Boughs of Folly

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The holidays are all about extremes. Peace on earth! Goodwill to men! Black Friday mobs! Road Rage over hour-long back ups!

But that’s life, right? Every high is balanced by a low. And over the holidays, I combine the two like that last cocktail you didn’t really need…shaken or stirred…mixed or mingled…blended or beaten within an inch of its life… While I love this season-long celebration, I’ve never been very good at knowing when to leave the party.

When we were first together, Chris and I would host an annual holiday party AND attend many others as guests – often several in one night! Now, we are lucky if we can take turns dropping by a “grownup” party held within our own neighborhood. Holiday parties are fun and festive (HIGH!)…but beware the corresponding low… At one such event last year, holiday cheer (and far too many Moscow Mules) moved me to sing along with my favorite tunes on the host’s playlist. Really – you haven’t lived until you’ve heard me sing Little Feat at the top of my lungs. If you’ll be my Dixie Chicken, I will BE your Tennessee Lamb.

You know you have arrived as an adult when your day-after memories of a super fun-night out are less “SUPER FUN!” and more “I did WHAT?

Then, of course there are the annual photos in front of the Christmas tree. Each year I line up my children, marvel at how beautiful they are – how much they’ve grown – and then start barking at them like a Hollywood director about to lose the evening light. “Look happy!” “Move closer!” “Stop making that face!” “You’re DOING it wrong!” …All things that have come out of my mouth while arranging a joyous holiday tableau.

Both of this year’s attempts – first in front of the kids’ tree the day after Thanksgiving, and then in front of my tree on Christmas eve – ended in either tears or injury. Actually, the latter ended in both.

There was a lot of this going on…

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…and everyone was having a great time…

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…then I finally got this shot…

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…which was okay… But I thought I could do better. Sadly, three seconds later, Oliver decided to squeeze the twins to his chest and accidentally gave them an impressive head knock. Poor kid – he really doesn’t understand how strong he is and was more surprised and upset than they were. Though it was hard to tell with all of the wailing and “Oliver did that ON PURPOSE!” accusations. It’s clear that we have officially entered “The Lenny Years” and will have to keep a more serious eye on the roughhousing.

But don’t worry! Everyone was fine ten minutes later when I announced that they could all open a present. And I was only mildly thrown by the unexpected drama since I’m currently walking through life in a constant state of damage control.

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A more recent addition to our holiday traditions is Charlie, our Elf on the Shelf. The kids love that elf and charge out of bed the second they wake up to see WHERE he will be today!

As someone who regularly forgets to follow up on Tooth Fairy duties, I’m a bit less enthused about the elf. Sure, it’s very convenient to point out that “Charlie is watching,” when someone (George) is being particularly bad. But that in no way compensates for those mornings when I have to use my best roller derby moves to elbow past my kids on the stairs before they find the elf we forgot to move.

By December 15th we’re usually scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to identifying new perching spots. One night Chris actually suggested doing something creative with props and I thought my head would explode, “What are you thinking!? Then they’ll start expecting ANOTHER one of those scenes the next day…and the next. Don’t raise the bar! NEVER raise the bar!” It’s like a universal truth of parenthood – always consider how your actions will impact the future. Charlie sticks to high cabinets and chandeliers – end of story.

I breathed a sigh of relief on Christmas eve when it was time for our elf to fly back to the North Pole. Though Alice seemed a little reluctant to let him go.

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Sorry Charlie!

But anyone who has been reading this blog long enough knows where things really get ugly. I’m a horrible person when it comes to “my tree.”

I have written at length about my Christmas trees and the difficulty I’ve had in relinquishing sole custody of the decorating process. First, I imagined an unpleasant future of haphazard ornament placement, heavy on the preschool projects. The following year, I compromised and gave the kids their own tree. Then the pressure was on, and I had to be very strategic about keeping “my tree” to myself.

Last year, I had a love/hate relationship with our tree. As soon as it was set up, we could see that it was undeniably crooked. This is a risk that accompanies Chris’ tradition of taking one of our children to pick out a tree each year – I have NO control over the selection (just a long list of requirements and deal breakers).

And I had such high hopes for Eleanor! My color-within-the-lines girl was the perfect candidate to find a “perfect” tree. At first glance, it seemed she did. But no matter how many times we tried to fix the obvious leaning, there was always something off.

Eventually, I just put on the lights since that takes at least an hour (well, for ME it does). Then after getting the kids to bed, I decided there must be a way to make it appear straighter. Obviously, I assumed Chris would be 100% on board with this additional adjusting – so imagine my surprise when he announced that it was “good enough” and turned in for the night. I would have agreed if good enough meant leaning at a 45 degree angle…but I felt his perception of Christmas tree adequacy was a few notches lower than mine.

He may have been willing to concede symmetrical defeat, but I stayed up to fight the good fight. And I only spent a few minutes feeling annoyed with him. The truth is, he was holding me back anyway.

That tree almost fell on me at least three times. And it’s a miracle that my children didn’t find me trapped underneath it the next morning. But I couldn’t let that happen. I mean, SOMEONE had to move the elf to a new location.

After I got the tree looking marginally better than it did when Chris gave up, I decided that I had reached my own “good enough.” The secret to my success involved stuffing the tree stand with some plastic cups and emptied prescription bottles (which make surprisingly good wedges!) Feel free to pin that tip.

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Before tidying up, I went into the kitchen to wash my hands (both of sap and the entire fiasco), and when I returned, I found that half the lights had blown out.

Then I dragged the damn thing outside and beat it to death with a snow shovel.

Of course I didn’t do that! For one thing, we don’t own a snow shovel. But more importantly, I had put way too much time into that tree to give up. Instead, I took a deep breath and set about checking each strand. Luckily, there were only two that had to be removed and I was able to replace them with a couple of spares. TOTALLY worth another 30 minutes of time that could be spent sleeping.

In the end, we had a lovely, only slightly crooked tree.

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This year, it was George who picked out the tree, and he surprised us all by selecting a SMALL one. Well – not exactly small, but much smaller than the six to eight foot trees his siblings were bringing home. Apparently, he told the tree guy that “size doesn’t matter as long as it’s fat.” Oh George…

So small and fat arrived, and most decidedly did not fit into our tree stand. The trunk was too short, so I sent Chris out to get a smaller stand.

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And starting right there, the smallest tree we’ve ever had became the BIGGEST pain in the ass.

It was next to impossible to get it to stay up straight in the new stand. And beyond that, it was never really secure regardless of how much we tightened the screws. This should have been the first sign of impending calamity. But Chris declared it good enough, and I could at least adjust it to look straight… So on went the lights!

This all happened after the kids were in bed and it was pretty late when I finished, but I decided to try to power through and do the ornaments too. That way the tree would be done before little, grasping hands had a chance to manhandle the boxes of holiday decor. I could even tell them that Charlie did it! How could they object to Santa’s snitch not letting them help? You better not pout indeed!

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It was a good idea, but a bit ambitious. I gave up around midnight and went to bed. So the following morning was flooded with enthusiastic offers of help and ornament retrieval assembly lines. I have never been so happy to see the school bus.

That Monday was “early dismissal day” so I only had a few hours alone. And right before my children were due home, I stepped back to bask in the glory of the sweetest little Christmas tree I had ever seen. George chose well – it was possibly my favorite tree yet. Absolutely perfect. Perfect and…moving? Just like that, everything switched to slow motion as I watched the stand sliiiiide forward and the angel drop back out of sight. CRASH! The entire thing hit the floor in a crunch of breakable ornaments (my favorite kind!)

If I were a more emotive person, I would have screamed. Instead, I stood frozen in horror. Wondering what I did wrong…was it possible that I overdid it on the ornaments?…or perhaps this was some kind of punishment for extreme Christmas tree hubris… Either way – I had children to collect from the bus and a play date to host. So I propped my now disheveled little tree up against the wall and resigned myself to figuring it out later.

Luckily, the damage was minimal and only a few of my heirloom ornaments were broken. And come on – even I knew there were FAR worse problems to have. I just practiced some deep breathing and tried to restrain my snarling when children came too close to my wounded baby.

Much later, when the kids were in bed, I came downstairs with the intention of getting Chris to help me figure out what happened and how we could fix it. But before I had a chance to ask, he informed me that, “the tree fell again.”

I must have blacked out at this point, as I have no memory of the next 20 minutes. BUT it all worked out in the end.

Just as I started collecting plastic cups and prescription pill bottles to wedge around the trunk, Chris decided that the top heavy tree really did need a sturdier stand. The solution was to saw off the lower branches (something I hadn’t even considered since the tree was already on the small side) and make it fit into our bigger stand.

Then there was sawing, lifting, near misses with pine needle blindings, multiple attempts at tree straightening and screw tightening…and  just a little bit of swearing.

Finally we stepped back to see a very straight, very secure, slightly smaller Christmas tree. We could also see that the branch removal effectively made what I decorated as “the front” of the tree a better candidate for “the back.” I employed more deep breathing and big picture priority checking to get myself to as serene a state of mind as I could manage…then I removed ALL of the ornaments and redid the WHOLE ‘EFFING TREE!

Done! Finished! No more lesson-learned moments thank-you-very-much! I had officially exceeded my limit for Christmas tree decorating mania.

Which of course, meant it was time for Christmas tree PHOTOGRAPHING mania!

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I think I have more pictures of this tree than I do of my own children on Christmas… I’m not kidding. Wonder how many people unfriended/unfollowed me after the Christmas tree reign of terror I inflicted over social media…

Next year, we’re going as a family to pick out our tree. It’s time for a new tradition. The kids are old enough now to work as a group and compromise on something they ALL like. AND to know that from now on, we’re getting the tree that I want.

WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST IN 2014!

The Twelve Days of Binging

On the First Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Second Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Third Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Fourth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Fifth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Sixth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Seventh Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Eighth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Ninth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Nine Short Bread Cookies
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Tenth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Ten Random Candies
Nine Short Bread Cookies
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Eleventh Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Eleven Bowls of Ice Cream
Ten Random Candies
Nine Short Bread Cookies
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Twelfth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Twelve Chocolate Santas
Eleven Bowls of Ice Cream
Ten Random Candies
Nine Short Bread Cookies
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

HAPPY HOLIDAY BINGING from The Big Piece of Cake!

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They Coulda’ Been Great: November 2013

November highlights via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)


November 1

5:09 p.m.

Overheard at a play date…

Six year old: Mom! We need you to open our scooters!

Mother: Excuse me?

Six year old: WE NEED you to open our scooters!

Mother: What is missing from your request?

Six year old: I don’t know! Open our scooters!

Mother: What’s the magic word?

Six year old: DAD!

Exactly.


November 3

12:56 p.m.

Two kids out at friends’ houses and one playing happily by himself. The perfect time to get some cleaning done! So of course, I’m looking at Kate Spade bracelets on Ebay.

5:03 p.m.

Halloween is over – but if a child dropped a Jolly Rancher within a 2-mile radius, my dog will find it.

5:36 p.m.

George: [coming inside after his father went out to tell him it was getting dark and it's time to come in] MOM! I was just about to do something fun and you RUINED it!

Me: [to Chris] I guess you told him that “Mom” said it was getting too dark for him to be outside? [to George] George – it’s too dark for you to be outside without a grownup.

Chris: People are still outside watching the game. [yes - my neighbors set up a TV and a fire pit]

Me: [to George] WELL, Daddy doesn’t want to watch football outside – so you have to come in now.

George: DAD!?!

Two can play that game.


November 4

7:14 p.m.

I’m obsessed with Paperless Post tonight (yes – looking up possibilities for the Simply Om trunk show). I’ve already found exactly what I need – but I CAN’T STOP looking at all of the pretty, pretty options. Chinese lanterns! What could I possibly do with this? No idea – but look at the pretty, pretty lanterns!

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November 5

2:55 p.m.

Eleanor: Pluto used to be a planet, but now it’s a star.

Me: I think Pluto was always a star – we just THOUGHT it was a planet.

Eleanor: No. It USED TO be a planet, but then scientists changed it into a star.

George: EVIL scientists!

Sometimes I think HE’S actually from Pluto…

*Yes – it has been pointed out to me that Pluto is not a star, but a plutoid or something…whatever – there’s a reason I don’t home school.


November 6

11:15 p.m.

When you can’t find your best tweezers. Forty-something world problems…


November 7

4:29 p.m.

Homework is hard. It makes my brain dizzy.”

Oliver on not wanting to do homework. I think he nailed it.

5:53 p.m.

Either I’m unusually irritable this evening or my children are unusually irritating. Most likely a combination of the two.


November 8

8:46 a.m.

Leaving the house to walk the kids to school and Eleanor just started singing, “I know a song that never ever ends – and this how it goooes!” So this should be fun.


November 9

12:49 p.m.

Yes – of course it’s okay to scratch your leg… Just not straight down the front of your pants, in public.”

Added to the list of things I’ve actually had to say to people. #motherhood

3:23 p.m.

Oliver won’t let me sing along with Taylor Swift on the radio. But dammit – I’m Feelin’ Twenty-Two. And I’m not letting some 8 year old take that away from me.

9:16 p.m.

Oliver: Mom – keep your eyes peeled!

Me: Will do!

Oliver: And keep your ears peeled.

Me: Ha! You got it.

Oliver: And keep your nose peeled.

Me: Um…sure.

Oliver: And keep your mouth peeled.

Me: …

Oliver: And keep your hair peeled.

Me: Hair?!?

Oliver: Yeah – and keep your HANDS peeled.

Me: OKAY! Let’s just assume that I’ve got it covered.

Wondering if this is somehow related to how I can never find my keys…


November 10

10:31 a.m.

Not doing the daily grateful thing this month – but VERY grateful for a friend’s #1 visitor rule: “you can always be late – but you can never be early.” #lateforbrunch

7:55 p.m.

Fun afternoon at a corn maze! It’s a thing.

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7:59 p.m.

Children of the Corn Maze.

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November 11

9:24 a.m.

There are two kinds of people in a corn maze. The ones who hit dead end after dead end and say, “I will find my way out of this if it kills me!” and the ones who make jokes and take family pictures as they follow behind. Apparently, I am in the latter group.

1:48 p.m.

This may just be one of my favorite things I’ve ever read. Oliver’s school OT sent me an e-mail telling me that he’s now officially able to tie his shoes (sent a pair in for them to practice a while back):

Good Morning, Kate!

Oliver is wearing his tie-shoes home today!!! Every time for the last 2 weeks he has been successful on the first attempt tying each shoe  :)

He got a little teary-eyed about his old sneakers…he said they are very sad. So, we wrote them a little note & you’ll find that note in the Ziploc Bag with the sneakers.

Oliver seemed to feel much better after writing the note & reading it to the sneakers – the sneakers felt better, too :) I am so happy with his commitment to this & the great progress he made…his efforts really paid off!

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November 12

4:14 p.m.

George just got off the school bus wearing his fleece pull over PULLED OVER his winter coat. Why? Because it’s “toasty.” Obviously.

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November 13

6:19 p.m.

Update on Oliver’s school picture. Just got this e-mail from his SPED teacher:

“Good Evening,

The school pictures are headed home tomorrow, but I wanted to give you a heads up. Oliver took a very nice picture!

Take Care!”

I take it this mean he smiled for the camera (in some fashion at least…) So I’m already thrilled.

9:35 p.m.

You know those “family style” portions they serve at Italian restaurants? Well – left to my own devices? I AM that family.


November 14

12:25 p.m.

While I do appreciate the lack of crowds at the mall during the week, I spend twice as much time finding stores in my efforts to avoid those Dead Sea skin care kiosks. The sales people terrify me. They are relentless and always manage to get me in their clutches. I’ve been complimented, shamed, and everything in between by them, and only manage to escape without purchase by the skin of my teeth. Once I was THISCLOSE to getting into line for Santa when no alternate routes were available. True story.

5:27 p.m.

Picture day miracle.

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6:11 p.m.

And just in case anyone who saw my last post thinks I’m acting like some picture day Tiger Mom…just take a look at this comparison between Oliver fake smiling through tears of fury in 2012 and Oliver actually smiling in anticipation of a VERY good bribe in 2013. Can you really blame me for throwing a little confetti?

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November 20

4:45 p.m.

Me: Oliver! Does it look like she just got hurt?

Oliver: Yes.

Me: Do you think it’s time for the black crayon to STOP talking to her?

Oliver: Okay

This makes complete sense to us….

5:34 p.m.

Oliver has decided to boycott the “th” sound while reading. Have you ever listened to someone who boycotts “th” read aloud for 20 minutes? Every time he reads the word “the” he mutters “hmph – I don’t want to say ‘the’…” EVERY time.

Unrelated: he spends an equal amount of time making pencils talk to each other as he does writing with them.

Also? I love Oliver.


November 21

12:54 p.m.

Leaving the school book fair, I heard the unmistakable shrieks of 5th or 6th graders playing something like kickball. I then experienced what must have been a visceral sense memory of complete panic. It was only a second but extremely unpleasant. PE PTSD?

6:18 p.m.

Oliver had the hiccups during his 20 minutes of reading aloud to me this evening. Recently, he started doing this thing where he smacks his mouth each time he hiccups. So I got to sit there for 20 minutes listening to him say “I don’t want to say the” every time he read the word “the” and smacking his mouth every time he hiccuped.

Wonder what he’ll add tomorrow… Perhaps a little interpretive dance number every time he turns a page?

6:22 p.m.

I spend 85% of the time I’m with my children feeling like Bob Newhart.


November 22

10:13 a.m.

Rage reading the Sundance catalog with my friend Diane and actually had the opportunity to quote, “it’s not even leathah!” #WorkingGirl


November 24

4:08 p.m.

After a painful month of waiting (due to postponement as a “consequence” of general being-really-bad-ness in school this October), George FINALLY had his laser tag birthday party. And you know what that means… I have to come up with a new empty threat. Also – he’s about to lose a front tooth. The very last baby smile in my house bites the dust – sob.

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November 25

8:36 a.m.

I’m going to let this soak,” is Chris’ code for, “if I leave this dirty pan in the sink long enough, Kate will clean it.” I don’t know why I even bother with the dirty pan standoff…we all know how this ends.

10:35 a.m.

Clearly I am avoiding the ridiculous amount of house cleaning that must be done before my in-laws arrive tomorrow… But George lost that front tooth, and I think commemorating the end of the era of baby teeth smiles in my house on Facebook is far more important that scrubbing toilets. Yes?

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2:58 p.m.

George: MOM! My tooth is GONE! I DROPPED it. I LOST it!

Me: Well why were you playing with it? I told you that wasn’t a good idea…

George: [general flailing and unintelligible wailing]

Me: I’m sure we can find it. Where were you when you dropped it?

George: Over here on the couch!

Me: Okay – so you were right here when…

George: …it DROPPED and rolled down there in the back.

Me: So it’s probably just under the cushion [feeling around for it....still looking...] Huh. You were right HERE?

George: Yes.

Me: And you had it in your hand right HERE?

George: No.

Me: Then where were you holding it?

George: In my mouth.

Me: …

George: I was just “pretending.”

Remember how I said my kids make me feel like Bob Newhart? This was one of our “I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl,” moments.

5:49 p.m.

Eleanor: Mom, how do you spell the letter A?

Me: The letter A?!?

George: Oh that’s EASY! Wait – do you mean in lowercase?

I walked away. Obviously, George had that one covered.

7:39 p.m.

Eleanor: [reading over my shoulder as I type]: “…entertained me for whores.”

What I actually typed: “…entertained me for hours.”

It’s like non-stop tonight. I need run mics through our house and just hit “record.”


November 30

3:48 p.m.

At Safeway…

Oliver: [coming out of the restroom] Mom! I need your help.

Me: With what?

Oliver: Finding the Mysterious Burglar.

Ah – shopping with Oliver… Epilogue: it turned out that I AM the Mysterious Burglar.

Also – going to the store for ice cream and wine is a thing, right?

6:07 p.m.

Traditional day-after-Thanksgiving “kids’ tree” decorating party. The real – I mean MY – tree decorating party will take place in a couple of weeks while THEY are at school. That is, if several hours alone, tying a thousand ornament ribbons and swearing over lights that short out counts as a party…I CAN’T WAIT! And yes – I did notice the FOUR Hello Kitty ornaments arranged above Eleanor’s head. There is a reason they aren’t invited to my party.

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8:45 p.m.

Eleanor: [literally CRAWLING up the stairs] MOM! I’m tired. Can I just go to bed without brushing my teeth?

Me: No honey – it’s important – I’ll help. [LYING! I totally let her go to bed without.]

George: MOM! My feet itch! Why do my feet itch?!

Me: Because you’ve been wearing those socks for the past three days?

Oliver: MOM! Can I use the electric?

Me: NO! Wait – you mean “toothbrush”? Then yes – yes you can.”

Goodnight November!

Holiday Shopping Guide!

UPDATED: 12/5/13!

I recently sent some friends an e-mail with things I bought (or will be buying) for my holiday gift list. Then Monica from Wired Momma asked if she could feature it on her blog. THEN I thought, “wait a minute…I have a blog, and back when I was actually writing stuff on it, I would have TOTALLY posted this list.”

Duh. So here we go. My personal list of suggestions for holiday shopping this year! I’ve also added some suggestions from friends (since of course, I asked for THEIR favorite resources too).

FIRST – a few bargains. While I don’t typically work on non-special needs deals for CertifiKid, I offered to help bring in a few for the holiday gift guide this year. I only approached a handful of designers/companies who made “pretty stuff” that I like – so I could get a good discount on something I already planned to buy. Here are the FOUR “personalized” gift options that I hand picked:

NEW!

2-Month Subscription for Appleseed Lane STEM (science/math) experiments and projects – this is currently running as a CertifiKid holiday gift guide deal: $28 (40% off). My kids LOVE this kind of thing and I was a terrible math and science student. With STEM jobs on the rise, those poor Hood children need all the help they can get. Thank you Appleseed Lane!

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1. Monogrammed clutches from Social Monograms – $26 (40% off). Lots of color and monogram style options (if I was getting married this would totally be on the list for possible bridesmaid gifts). THIS DEAL HAS ENDED – but you can still order directly from Social Monograms at www.socialmonograms.com.

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I’m getting a few – including one for myself in either green or orange with a white block monogram:

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2. Matching monogrammed t-shirts for a girl and her 18″ doll – $28 (32% off). Eleanor is really into her American Girl Doll and I bought this for her birthday. THIS DEAL HAS ENDED – but you can find another American Girl (18″) doll deal HERE.

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Sadly – this was before I brought in the deal, so no discount for me. There are only 100 available at this price and half of that has sold just today.

3.  50% off personalized kids’ stationery from Smilegram Paper (including LINED PAPER – which the little ones love). You can buy $10 vouchers for $5 (50% off) – up to $100 to apply to your order. I haven’t placed MY order yet…but here are some possibilities: THIS DEAL HAS ENDED – but the same one is running on CertifiKid’s Special Needs page since the lined stationery is great for kids who struggle with the fine motor skills required for handwriting. Get your Smilegram at 50% off HERE.

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note cards

4.  $25 (45% off) in personalized silhouettes from Le Papier Studio Both traditional (you know…heads-only) or unique figures – and lots of different styles. I LOVE the idea of sending in an “action” picture and having it made into an art print silhouette. Here is what I JUST ordered to feature some of our recent beach pictures of the kids (made into silhouettes): THIS DEAL HAS ENDED – You can order directly from Le Papier Studio at www.lepapierstudio.com.

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Here are two others that I love:

Le Papier Studio 4

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Full disclosure – I will make a small commission on sales for the FOUR items above since I brought in the deals (so  if all goes well, I may be able to cover the cost of my own purchases – ha!) Alternatively, I get zippy for featuring the rest of the list below.

ANYWAY – If you want to see the other CertifiKid holiday gift guide deals you can find them HERE. Moving on – here are a few [more] of my favorite things…

1. Cozy cowels from Elizabeth Keohan of The Knotti Klinic.

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2. Gorgeous fair trade jewelry from Kiran Ferrandino of Simply Om. A portion of the proceeds from all Simply Om sales go toward training and empowering women in oppressed areas to develop a sustainable trade and help them overcome poverty. I own several Simply Om pieces including one of these bracelets from Ecuador (turquoise blue) that I wear daily:

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And here is Kiran wearing one of her new designs produced by artisans in India.

simply om kiran

3. My favorite new novel (just finished it and I’m buying it for some friends/family members), The Lunatic Parlor by Adrienne Cunninghame-Blank. I describe this book at Royal Tenenbaums meets Running with Scissors – I’m sad it’s over and still thinking about the characters…

Lunatic Parlor

4. My favorite humor book on Motherhood (well…tied with the first one) from Scary Mommy. Buy one for every mother you know!

Scary Mommy

5. Adorable wooden teethers and rattles from Little Alouette. I have a new nephew and this little guitar has his name on it!

Little Alouette

6. Beautiful prints, paper goods, etc. from one of my favorite artists, Anne Harwell of Annechovie. I have this print hanging in my house:

Annechovie 2

This is one of my current favorites:

Annechovie 1

7. Fabric clutch purses in fabulous textiles from Bee Gee Bags. If you have been following The Big Piece of Cake for any length of time, you will know how much I LOVE these bags! I think I first featured them in 2008 when I started the blog. I have several and the compliments flow every time I take one out. Here is one of mine that is currently available on the site:

bee gee

8. Some warmers and wax from my friend Tina O’Flynn who sells Scentsy. The fact that I like this product was a big surprise since I have an extreme aversion to all things Yankee Candle…I’m pretty sensitive to smells and Scentsy has a good selection of subtle scents that don’t make me feel like passing out. Also – the whole “wick-less” thing is huge for me since I’m terrified of matches (true story). Hey – a birdcage!

scentsy

FINALLY: Suggestions I received from friends include…

Kim loves jewelry from designer Heather Raabe. Her pieces range in price from $20 to over $800 – but I think my favorite was a simple hammered silver necklace for $40. Affordable and goes with everything:

Heather Raabe

Check out her Etsy shop HERE.

Mickie highly recommends Thumb and Pinky for unique handmade kids clothes. My favorite on the site is this African Wax print sun dress:

Thumb and Pinky 1

Not exactly seasonal for the East Coast…but I’d buy a size up for summer 2014! Visit the Etsy shop HERE.

Kristen reminded me of the Haitian Creations party she hosted earlier this year. I purchased a gorgeous long necklace that I prefer to wear in a 1920’s House of Eliott style. This is what the beads look like (in green – thought there are many color variations):

Haitian Creations

And here is the process:


Haitian Creations is a non-profit organization rooted in empowering the women of Haiti through education & design. Check out the site HERE.

FINALLY, for my DC area friends – here are the local shops I’ll be visiting:

Zoe Boutique in Old Town Alexandria

Zoe

Covet in Arlington

covet

The Nest Egg in Fairfax

Nest Egg

How about you? Have any great finds you’d like to share? Tell me in comments or e-mail me, bigpieceofcake@gmail.com. I’ll add them!

Happy (almost) holidays!

They Coulda’ Been Great: October 2013

October highlights via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

October 1

5:52 p.m.

Aaaaaand third verse, same as the first (or second, since it’s Mr. Robinson again). George wrote ANOTHER apology letter tonight: “Der Mistr Ropsin, I em sore fr beying rood ad idrubing [and interrupting]. I em going to be god [good]. Frum, George” I can’t even…

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October 4

8:06 a.m.

Last night when I got back from the Scary Mommy event…

Me: You know how this is one of my favorite tops?

Chris: No. When did you get that?

Me: I’ve had it for years – wear it all the time. Anyway – tonight when I put it on, I realized that it might be getting outdated… Have you ever put on a favorite shirt and thought it looked different?

Chris: No.

Me: Well it’s disconcerting. Normally, I put this on and think, “oh, I LOVE this top.” But tonight it was more like, “wow – that’s A LOT of ruffles.” Ruffles were really popular for a while, but now that they’re not, the ruffles on this collar seem less “pretty detail” and more “Queen Elizabeth’s Court.” Like even though I still LIKE this top, it doesn’t look the same to me anymore. Like something is off. I feel a little sad about that.

Chris: …..

It’s nice to have a partner in life with whom I can process these things…

10:00 a.m.

Just  few of my gorgeous new bracelets from Simply Om. My favorite is the pink jade.

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4:36 p.m.

My mother just had to get off the phone with me because my father can’t find Great Grandma Ruth’s leather-bound journal. He remembers packing it, but doesn’t remember UNpacking it when they moved into the new house and it’s very important that Mom helps him look for it THIS VERY MINUTE. #RetiredPeople or more accurately #MyParents


October 5

12:31 p.m.

So sitting in front of a rec center, waiting for a police officer so I can give him the KNIFE I just found on our neighborhood trail is not quite how I envisioned spending my Saturday afternoon…

8:10 p.m.

Conversation in the car on the way home from a dinner date with first grader Eleanor…

Eleanor: Mom – you want to hear something crazy?

Me: Sure.

Eleanor: Blake has a crush on someone!

Me: Is it you?

Eleanor: No!

Me: Is it someone at your table?

Eleanor: No.

Me: Is it someone in your class?

Eleanor: No.

Me: Is it someone I know?!

Eleanor: No – it’s a third grader.

Me: Really? Ambitious.

Eleanor: Well…Blake has a lot of dates.

Fast crowd at Yellow Table this year…


October 6

6:33 p.m.

Me: (following Eleanor outside) There’s George…can you find Oliver for me?

Eleanor: (looking down the block) He’s over there.

Me: (can’t see that far with my bad eyesight) Where?

Eleanor: Playing with the other kids.

Me: You mean George?

Eleanor: No – Oliver is there too.

Five year old neighbor: He’s making “chalk smoke.”

Me: Oh – then that’s definitely him.


October 8

2:58 p.m.

I think that the toy companies once had a big meeting with the paper product companies where they all went in on a profit sharing deal, stipulating that the toy companies would package toys in anything BUT a six-sided box as often as possible without raising suspicion. End game: parents would start spending THOUSANDS of dollars on $2.50+ gift bags and the required tissue paper. In popular Disney character prints of course (because you KNOW that group was in on it). They could feel fairly confident in their success since NO ONE in their right mind wants to waste time trying to wrap something with approximately 36 different angles!


October 10

5:03 p.m.

I have noticed a direct correlation between my children being really happy and really annoying. We all want our children to be “happy” but I’m wondering if “content” is an adequate compromise… Related: we are now leaving Target.

6:13 p.m.

So it sounds like George started his group for kids with impulse control issues at school today. I know this because when I asked if he was being good in class, he said: “yes – I’ve been ver’ good – ‘cept for once when someone mistracted me and I forgot.” [forgot to be good?] Then he went on to explain, “we talked about it in my new REpulse group. You know what REpulse means, mom?” His explanation was largely unintelligible, but I gleaned enough from it to confirm that he understands what an impulse is. Diction aside – I’m glad he’s getting help.

8:00 p.m.

I just e-mailed Oliver’s teachers my suggested “action plan” for picture day…the goal being that he NOT refuse to have his picture taken (which he has done for the past two years). Bribes will be involved. Even if he offers the photographer that rictus smile he gives me when I aim the camera at him, I’ll consider it a win. In fact, I’ll FRAME the damn thing. I’m on a mission…

8:12 p.m.

Remember that movie title, “There Will Be Blood”? I’ve decided that my parenting movie title would be, “There Will Be Bribes.”


October 12

10:23 a.m.

Pssst! All of my high school/college friends who excluded “year” from birth date in their FB profile… I know how old you are :)

7:03 p.m.

“Sniffing butts is NOT funny!” As far as ridiculous things I find myself saying to my children go… It’s up there.

7:21 p.m.

Highlights of college football are on TV and I overheard Chris telling the kids that the “Game Cocks” are South Carolina University’s mascot. Then George (who is operating on a particularly nasty combination of too much sugar and “stuck inside on a rainy day”) started chanting “Game focks! Game focks!”

Me: “It’s not ‘focks’ it’s…oh never mind…”

Feeling grateful that their school’s mascot is the “Mustang.”


October 13

12:58 p.m.

Eleanor: Just walk like a robot. Makes you feel better.

I like to think this would apply to pretty much any situation.


October 14

7:38 p.m.

Um – when did my eight year old turn 17? #BackFromTheBeach

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7:40 p.m.

Clearly George had a terrible time… #BackFromTheBeach

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7:42 p.m.

All cartwheels, all the time. #BackFromTheBeach

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7:46 p.m.

We even brought the dog! #BackFromTheBeach

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7:50 p.m.

One more! What DON’T I like about this picture? Oh – about 98 things… What DO I like about it? It looks exactly like me on a day with my kids – no makeup, hair pulled back, “practical clothes,” and all. More importantly, this is probably how my kids think of me, so when they see this picture, they’ll know “this is mom.” And Alice.

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October 15

7:58 p.m.

Me: I’m confused. Why is baseball on? Isn’t it football season?

Chris: It’s October!

Me: But isn’t baseball over?

Chris: Haven’t you heard the term “The Boys of October”?

Me: I’ve heard “The Boys of Summer”…

Chris: The World Series is ALWAYS in October. What is the ONLY team to have won the World Series in NOVEMBER?

Me: [blank stare]

Chris: The Diamondbacks!

When someone asks why baseball is still on in October, do you think they would be able to guess who won the World Series in November? Has he met me?!


October 16

4:51 p.m.

George just wowed our neighbors by demonstrating his best pole dancing moves on the corner sign post. Yes – he said “pole dancing.” Guess I’d better GET ON IT and sew those velocros into his new tear-away outifts… Thanks Diane Cooper Gould!

5:49 p.m.

Finally joining the rest of the human race in worshiping at the alter of Breaking Bad. And I have to say, the 30 minutes I spend doing second grade homework with Oliver each day is eerily similar to watching Walter try to explain chemistry to disinterested high school students…

7:00 p.m.

THIS is how much I believe Oliver WON’T refuse to have his picture taken OR make a face so bizarre that he’ll be “that kid” when his classmates look at their yearbooks 20 years from now. Please send prayers/good vibes/voodoo if you can.

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October 19

10:33 a.m.

Mah culuhs ah blush and bashful.

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11:37 a.m.

It never ceases to amaze me how seriously kids can take their bizarre little games. Like…say…taking turns whacking a pumpkin with a stick. Apparently, shit gets real when one of them steals someone else’s turn. NO CUTSIES!

1:45 p.m.

Three words a busy parent most dreads hearing from small children: “Can I help?

So laundry folding will take twice a long…

3:47 p.m.

Hawking popcorn at the school harvest festival. Total carnie now…sneering at all the norms…

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October 27

2:43 p.m.

Realized I forgot paper products for Eleanor’s birthday party. Asked Chris to run out to buy paper plates and napkins. For a SEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL’S PARTY. So obviously…

paper products


October 28

7:26 p.m.

I kind of love the fact that Eleanor’s barometer for whether she’ll wear something or not is, “can I do a cartwheel in it?


October 31

4:56 p.m.

Just finished taking some Halloween pictures of the kids! You should DEFINITELY hire me as your family photographer…If you want me to yell a lot and tell everyone that they’re “DOING IT WRONG!” I’m all about the fun.

5:14 p.m.

Oliver has been talking about Halloween since June – so he is THRILLED to finally be a “scary vampire” tonight. THIS is the child who refused to wear a costume until he was six. I had to trick him by putting him in superhero pjs. We’ve come a long way baby!

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5:16 p.m.

Eleanor decided to be a witch again so I would only have to worry about costumes for TWO children this year. Okay – maybe that wasn’t her intention…but it didn’t go unappreciated.

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5:18 p.m.

George is going as Rick Grimes “after” – because, you know, it’s only a matter of time… Of course, he just thinks he’s a “Sheriff Zombie.” But the grownups will think it’s funny.

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Next up:
NOVEMBER when Oliver calls PETA on Thanksgiving and the twins make into the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of times they can say “penis” within a 24-hour period. Stay tuned…

They Coulda’ Been Great: September 2013

A little look back at September via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)


September 2

1:12 p.m.

George: Dad, why is juggling free?

Chris: What?

George: Why is juggling free?

Chris: Juggling is what?

George: FREE! Why is juggling FREE?

Chris: I have no idea what you are talking about.

George: Why is juggling FREE balls? WHY FREE?

I’m dying. And kind of expecting to hear from the speech therapist at school this year…


September 3

9:51 a.m.

First day of school for Fairfax County. And this is the BEST picture they were willing to give me.

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9:53 a.m.

….but this is all they really wanted to do.

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9:54 a.m.

This of course is my favorite since it looks the most like them.

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September 4

12:41 p.m.

So Alan Thicke has tweeted his dismissive attitude about the outrage over his son Robin and Miley Cyrus giving that controversial performance at the VMAs. But I wonder – am I the only one who really wants to know what Jason Seaver would think of all of this?


September 7

9:36 a.m.

“Dad! I’m half Italian, half Arizona and half American.”

George has really gotten into genealogy lately.

2:38 p.m.

Shopping at the Gap…

Eleanor: Mommy! You keep running off.

I’m telling you…take your eyes off me for a second and I’m GONE.

3:20 p.m.

The shoes Eleanor picked out are so hideous, they are kind of awesome. Also? They light up.

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8:02 p.m.

Me: Honey, can you get me a glass of wine?

Eleanor: And can I have some water?

Chris: What – do I look like a waiter to you two?

Me: Oh I’m sorry, I know it must be really hard having to run around doing things for me all day…cleaning up after me…keeping me organized…

Eleanor: That’s not really real. Mommy does all the work.

That’s my girl!


September 9

9:48 p.m.

Some blues singer named Kermit on the Travel channel is cooking roasted raccoon (a Bayou thing?). RACCOON?! I can barely think about what sausage is. “Roasted raccoon” has scarred me for life.

10:09 p.m.

And now Hotel Impossible is on the Travel Channel. Chris hasn’t changed it yet. I just asked, “honey – WHY are you watching hotels? You like cooking, sports and ghosts. Not hotels.” Speaking of ghosts – have you seen The Dead Files with the detective and the medium? OMG! Also – I CAN’T WAIT for The Mindy Project premier next week.


September 11

4:44 p.m.

Last week I reprimanded the kids for not eating the lunches I packed for them. This week, their lunchboxes are coming home suspiciously EMPTY. Hmmmm…


September 12

1:57 p.m.

So I just took Alice out for a quick walk on this hot, sunny day, and we both jumped at the unexpected sound of a LOUD clap of thunder. More accurately, I was slightly startled and Alice jumped out of her skin, turning around in circles all, “WTF was THAT?!” Then I knew I have become one of THOSE dog owners because my first thought was “OMG that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen – I have to put that FB.” Okay – maybe I’m not quite there yet…it’s not like I Instagrammed it. And speaking of dogs… If YOU happen to be one of THOSE dog people, I saw that Chicken Soup for the Soul has a new story call out for a book titled, “The Dog Did WHAT?!” If you have a good story – consider submitting an essay! I’m going to skip this one since all I could come up with was that time Alice puked in my lap while I was driving the twins to camp. Don’t think it’s a winner. P.S. There are several other book titles if you don’t have a good dog story (for example, “The Cat Did WHAT?!”)


September 14

9:41 p.m.

For a while now, I’ve jokingly referred to Oliver as “the unintentional vegetarian,” since he doesn’t like meat. Stopped eating it a few years ago – and without any agenda, just finds it unappealing.

Until tonight.

Chris decided to roast a chicken, which we rarely do, and when Oliver saw it on the platter he was horrified. It was only when I noticed a couple of tears rolling down his cheeks that I got concerned. He was VERY upset about us eating “the turkey.” I told him that it wasn’t a turkey, it was a chicken (I know…) and (surprise!) this didn’t help. He said that “chickens are for pecking not for eating.

Not exactly sure where we go from here… But I CAN’T WAIT for Thanksgiving!


September 16

6:51 p.m.

First apology note to a teacher this year! “Der Mis. Datu, I soory foor beying rood. Luv, George

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September 17

12:52 p.m.

In a parking garage…

Me: Oliver – do you want to take the stairs or the elevator?

Oliver: Why don’t I go down the stairs and you can take the…

Me: We’ll BOTH go down the stairs.

AS IF!

4:33 p.m.

Just gave Oliver new shoes. He immediately told me that the right shoe’s name was “Barney.” Then he became very concerned about his old shoes’ feelings on being replaced. God bless his gentle soul…but really, this is taking the personification a bit too far…

5:56 p.m.

So it’s normal to have a glass of wine before back to school night, right? Like last year, I’ll have to be in three different classrooms at the same time… End game: set up back-to-back parent-teacher conference appointments and avoid any volunteer assignments that involve scissors and glue. Wish me luck!

9:53 p.m.

At bedtime, Eleanor usually asks me to lie down with her for a while so she can talk to me about all of her “stuff” – what she wants for her birthday, why she was grumpy this morning, who Alice loves best in the family, how she only wants to have dogs and horses when she grows up because having babies is too much work… As I was leaving her room tonight, the following conversation took place:

George: Mom!

Me: What is it honey?

George: Why do you always spend so much time talking to Eleanor and not to Oliver and me?

Me: (climbing into bed with him) I will ALWAYS talk to you if you want to talk to me. What do you want to talk about?

George: (long pause) You know? Venomous snakes? Have venom in their TEETH!

Me: George – you are very special to me.

George: So’s you.

I love my boys.


September 20

7:21 p.m.

I just said, “I don’t like that language!” to my kids and internally cringed as I heard my pre-teen self respond, “what? ENGLISH?” Sigh.

10:17 p.m.

I just made an someecard! This is what happens when I drink wine and pretend to work…

SOMEECARDS1


September 21

12:11 p.m.

And here is one for those of you who have sons. Warning: this may become my new hobby…

SOMEECARDS2


September 22

6:13 p.m.

For everyone who spent the weekend catering to their children’s needs (I told you. New hobby.)

SOMEECARDS3

6:54 p.m.

I found a small tortoise shell circle on my dog walk today. Handed it to Eleanor and asked if she could find a use for it. She looked it over carefully and then exclaimed, “oh yes! I know exactly what I can do with it!” She ran upstairs for a minute and then came down with a little box, “I’ll just put it in here where I keep itty bitty things.” And THIS is when I know she is MY daughter.


September 26

3:24 p.m.

Waiting at the dermatologist with George for something minor. Luckily, this exam room offers LOTS of informative pamphlets for our entertainment. He found one on acne for me. Also Restylane. Now I get to explain the melanoma removal surgery that’s playing on the video monitor. Awesome.

7:24 p.m.

What a coincidence! When I arrived at school to pick up George for his dermatologist appointment, he was already in the office…because he was acting up in class.

This wasn’t a huge surprise. Just a few hours earlier, the school counselor called to tell me he’d be participating in one of her groups for kids with impulse control issues. Bumping into him as he was marched to the principal’s office was the obvious continuation of that story….

On the upside, it was good timing.


September 27

8:16 p.m.

Second apology note to a teacher this year! Same kid, different teacher. “Der Mistr Robinsin, I em sore beying rood. I wil be betr in klas. Luv, George

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September 28

8:47 p.m.

Chris is watching TV – but this is what I get to experience every night while I’m trying to sleep (emphasis on “trying”).

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9:54 p.m.

Finally watching the Parenthood premier and BEST LINE from new dad, Crosby: “I’m sure you are going to be the best thing that ever happened to me someday, but right now I really hate you.

10:35 p.m.

Is there anything more precious than a sleeping child?

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They Coulda’ Been Great: August 2013

A little look back at August via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)


August 3

7:43 p.m.

I like to do like this…makes me look old.”

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August 4

8:22 a.m.

So chronic lower back pain seems to be part of my life now… Feels like just yesterday my worst “getting old” complaint was a wrinkled face. I’m nothing short of nostalgic for those golden 20something years spent crying about my big butt.

1:03 p.m.

Ages 7-14 my ass! Try Ages 7-41 Lego.

IMG_7115


August 5

1:53 p.m.

Me: Eleanor, can you do me a favor? Give Oliver this underwear and tell him to put it ON.

Eleanor: [put upon sigh] OKAY. But I’m just going to throw them at him.

It’s all about compromise.


August 7

8:04 p.m.

Weirdest bruise ever. Going up? Or going down?

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August 8

10:08 a.m.

At the farm, in “the sheep’s lair.” Oliver makes up for his delayed language skills with a creative vocabulary.

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3:47 p.m.

You know how they say that people who crave power and a position of authority often wind up in law enforcement? Wonder if the same could be said of school crossing guards… I’m guessing puppet masters, every one of them. “You go! You stay! Now YOU go! But you still stay! Stay there… Don’t moooove…”

6:12 p.m.

Me: Hey – there’s the mailman. He’s getting here LATE.

Eleanor: Maybe he’s getting married.

Me: You think he’s late because he’s getting MARRIED?

George: He already IS married.

Me: How do you know he’s married?

George: Because he’s old.

Logic.


August 9

9:26 a.m.

One minute of a car ride with George…

George: Hey mom! Your brain is electric. That’s why your forehead is hot.

Me: Really?

George: Yeah…And mom? How old are you, is how long you are living, right?

Me: Yes – that’s true.

George: Hey mom! I made up this song [We Are Young by FUN.] in my head before it was REAL.

Me: You did?

George: Yeah – when I was a baby watching fireworks. Hey! I see some fog!

I will NEVER tire of this.


August 10

10:00 a.m.

If there is anything in the world cuter than baby chicks, I can’t name it. At the farm again…

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2:36 p.m.

I often think that I don’t have the three most inquisitive children in the world… Possibly because from the time they could talk and ask questions like, “what’s that mommy?” my first reaction response has inevitably been “don’t touch it!

Kate Hood. Squashing curiosity since 2005

7:31 p.m.

After spending an extensive amount of time watching Sponge Bob, Oliver has perfected a flawless Squidward impression. Of course, he usually does this in public places…seemingly for his own entertainment… But talent is TALENT.


August 11

4:19 p.m.

Eleanor got two nasty bee stings today. Or wasp or hornet…some really vicious breed of bee – they literally chased her home. But not to worry. Chris found the hive/nest (getting stung 8 times in the process) and set it on fire. I’ve always said that if there really is a Zombie Apocalypse, I have one bad ass husband to keep us safe.


August 12

6:31 p.m.

On the walk home from a play date…

Oliver: Mom, Annoying Orange told a [I then heard him say] nice story.

Me: Really? A NICE story?

Oliver: No. A [I then heard him say] KNIGHT story.

Me: OH! A Knight story.

Oliver: NO! A [he really said] KNIFE story.

Me: …

I’m sorry – am I supposed to be monitoring what he’s viewing online? Dammit! That baby-owner’s manual mentioned NOTHING about this…


August 13

9:18 a.m.

If your six year old twins ever decide to have a screaming match in the back seat during your morning commute, blast Play that Funky Music White Boy on the radio and sing along as loudly and enthusiastically as possible. Chair dancing is also a nice bonus. They will be so distracted and/or horrified that they will completely forget that they were fighting in the first place. You’re welcome.


August 14

8:17 a.m.

I just had to walk Alice around the block for a full 15 minutes before she would finally do her business. Not like we don’t have to leave for camp or anything… Then I found two little boys in underwear waiting for me at our open front door with VERY IMPORTANT information to impart!

Oliver: Mom! Eleanor broke my Shellraiser (Ninja Turtle Lego vehicle) but it’s okay because it was just an accident!

George: Mom! We have Jello AND pudding!

Then we had to convince Eleanor to come out of her room where she was inexplicably upset and hiding even though no one was mad about the freaking Shellraiser (which I will have the pleasure of “fixing” later today).

Everyone just PUT ON YOUR PANTS and let’s GO.

7:14 p.m.

Right now, Eleanor is “teaching Oliver gymnastics” and asked me to come observe. His last “move” ended with pulling off his underwear. Eleanor’s assessment: “that is totally NOT part of gymnastics!

I don’t know about you, but I smell a brother-sister talent show act…

9:13 p.m.

I just apologized to a La La Loopsy doll. Eleanor and her friends painted it head to toe in green sparkly nail polish this afternoon. Is it just me, or was anyone else scarred for life by the Toy Story movies?


August 15

7:26 p.m.

George: Mom, what day it is?

Chris: What day “IS IT.”

Shut up Chris.

Seriously – the cuteness only lasts so long…

7:55 p.m.

Me: Eleanor, time to go upstairs and brush your teeth.

Eleanor: But my legs are TOO TIRED to walk upstairs.

Me: Well, sometimes we have to do things even when we’re tired.

Eleanor: No REALLY. I CAN’T. I’m TOO TIRED.

Me: Eleanor, if I put a cupcake at the top of the stairs and told you that you could eat it if you made it up there by the time I counted to three, YOU would muster up enough energy to do it.

Eleanor: But there ISN’T a cupcake at the top of the stairs!

Me: Exactly. Welcome to the rest of your life.

Tough love.


August 16

9:13 p.m.

No more whining! It’s now time to be silent and enjoy Dexy’s Midnight Runners with me!

Morning commute radio.


August 17

12:23 p.m.

I think it says a lot about my personal maintenance this summer that my three year old neighbor has a better pedicure than me.

1:05 p.m.

“Wait! Chew. Swallow. THEN make the motorboat noise.”

I’m such a micro-manager…

5:31 p.m.

George just walked up, put his hand on my stomach, and observed, “it looks like the baby is about to come out.” what is he trying to say? #sowrong

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6:07 p.m.

First rule of Moon Bounce: Never talk about Moon Bounce. #EpicBirthdayParty

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August 18

4:33 p.m.

Eleanor (who is SIX): Do you have Aster’s phone number?

Me: Yes – why?

Eleanor: Oh – in case I want to call her for a play date.

Me: I have it – so we can call her if that comes up.

Eleanor: OR I can call her since I’m getting a phone for Christmas.

Me: You’re getting a PHONE for Christmas?

Eleanor: Yeah.

Me: Who decided THAT?

Eleanor: Me.

Of course


August 20

6:30 p.m.

Had a fun, spur of the moment dinner party here with friends last night. Sadly, it did have to end. This happened when the soon-to-be first graders came up from the basement to announce that the two year old pooped. “But just a little one.” They knew this because they were having a naked party (what?!) But my favorite part was when six year old Lucy informed me that she took care of it – and handed me the Candy Land card she used to “scoop it up.” Why our parties don’t get mentioned in the Society pages, I will NEVER KNOW…


August 21

8:28 p.m.

Right now, I am figuring out fall premiere dates for all of my favorite TV shows. I will probably watch most of them real time.

Also? I miss the TV Guide.

Categorized under: things I have in common with your grandparents.


August 22

11:25 a.m.

I have officially reached the point in summer vacation where I feel like we’re camping in our own house. Really looking forward to school starting after Labor Day…

8:14 p.m.

Eleanor just turned on the TV. It’s the beginning of UP. The minute I heard the music, I almost burst into tears. Now sniffling and secretly dabbing at eyes. Damn you UP! And you too, Tracy Chapman with your Fast Car. I don’t do “poignant” prettily.


August 24

10:40 a.m.

I’m 99% sure the Costco card checker guy just hit on me.

Suburban mom thought of the morning.

7:19 p.m.

Me: [making note that as Chris is about to take the dog for a walk, he has to pour himself a small glass of wine] You always have to have a drink when you walk Alice in the evening.

Chris: It’s my “dog walking drink.”

Me: You certainly do have your affectations…

Chris: I have my things.

Me: You mean your affectations?

Chris: I have my things.

Whatever. Think I may start having a “dog walking drink” when I take Alice out at 6:00 a.m. I, also have my things…

7:44 p.m.

And THEN my neighbor who isn’t even on Facebook texted me, “can I borrow a glass of wine? Stuck here with a play date.” Next thing you know, new moms on the block are going to start asking me if I can bring over mimosas on the odd Tuesday morning. Concerned about how we are perceived…


August 26

2:20 p.m.

George: Mom! Did you know that Venjamin’s name ISN’T Venjamin?

Me: It’s not?

George: NO! It’s BENjamin.

I’ll have to “fermember” that….


August 27

4:46 p.m.

The good news: Found out that 100% of the procedure required to repair my deviated septum will be covered by insurance!

The bad news: That amazing “you but better” pitch I got from the plastic surgeon who will perform the procedure was a waste of everyone’s time. Insurance will cover 0% of the thousands of dollars required to make me look like me but better. I’ll just have to look like me. Oh well – I guess being able to breath at night without 20 pillows is still pretty cool.


August 29

10:25 a.m.

Waiting for The Great Zucchini, every kid in DC’s favorite comedian, to start the show. Let the toilet paper jokes commence!

5:29 p.m.

George: Mom. “Hot” is not a ‘propriate word for kids right?

Me: No – it’s not appropriate for kids.

George: And “Sweet Mama!” That’s not ‘propriate either.

I can’t even.


August 30

9:21 a.m.

Oliver: MOM! I want to COLLECT THEM ALL!

So yes – my children may be watching just a leeeetle bit too much TV this summer….


August 31

7:32 p.m.

Honored to participate in a major milestone for a friend’s daughter today. Yes – you guessed it. She got her first American Girl doll. Embrace the the ostentatious consumerism Diane Cooper-Gould. One of us…One of us…
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8:19 p.m.

George: Mom! You know snow? Is really cloud POOP.

Guess we’re ready for winter? See ya August!

Love Actually-It’s the Same

 

Do you love Love Actually? I LOVE Love Actually. Who DOESN’T love Love Actually? (Other than my husband, and most men, and a lot of other people without souls, but we’ll leave them out of this for now.)

Back to those of us with beating hearts… We laughed. We cried. We rented it to watch with our friends. We watched it at 1:00 a.m. while eating a pint of ice cream. We memorized favorite quotes and argued over whether Kiera Knightly is breathtakingly beautiful or a skeletal mouth breather…

Regardless of the fact that Love Actually premiered over ten years ago, we are STILL watching it. Most Americans (women) would consider this movie a classic.

Except it’s not an American movie. It’s a British movie with a few American characters in it. And the only  American characters with significant screen time (that doesn’t involve singing) cover three stereotypes that no one would actually classify as complimentary: a thirtysomething career woman with no personal life, easy American girls and a lecherous US President.

And we eat it UP! Straight from the can with a big ass soup spoon. Please sir, may I have some more? Mr. Darcy is in it for godsakes!

You can watch Love Actually at pretty much any time of day, seven days a week. Now that there are hundreds of cable channels, all you have to do is channel surf, and you will find it. You may not be able to watch the whole thing, but at the very least, you can cheer on middle-schooler Sam as he thwarts Heathrow Airport security to chase his nativity-play-star crush to her gate. Run Sam, run! You can make it! You can give her that kiss! Forget about post September 11 anti-terrorism measures. Forget about the enormous firearms those officers chasing you have. You’re a kid. You’re blond. And this is your chance! It’s Christmas dammit! And this is TRUE LOVE (actually).

Plus, your widowed stepfather totally supports this stunt.

It’s ridiculous – but we Americans love us some Rom-Com. Throw in unresolved angst and it haunts us. Sure, we come across as a bunch of bozos… But as a country known for our loud, obnoxious people, I suppose we can have a collective (loud, obnoxious) laugh at our own expense.

It’s hard to laugh though as Laura Linney puts her entire life on hold to be on-call for her mentally ill brother. In the meantime, she fills the void with her career and pines for handsome co-worker, Karl. Of course she can’t find happiness in the end! There needs to be a balance of happy/sad stories in Love Actually. Why waste the happy on a lamo ex-pat who is destined to own 15 cats? No – she’ll just have to lose herself in 70-hour work weeks and unrequited love. Sad trombone.

I would insert an image this character burning the midnight oil at her computer, but there are very few online pictures that have anything to do with her story arc. Just TOO SAD. Let’s not linger, lest her lonely girl cooties get on us.

Moving on to one of my absolute favorite scenes in the whole movie….

Ironically, it’s dorky Londoner, Colin Frissell’s trip “on Shag Highway heading West” to what he considers to be the exact middle of the United States: Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Why? Obviously, to meet American girls who won’t be able to resist his British accent.

Who doesn’t die laughing over this? Because it’s SO TRUE. Skinny, rumpled backpacker at the bar…eh. Skinny, rumpled backpacker at the bar with a British accent…HEL-LO! It’s embarrassing, but it cannot be denied: the less cosmopolitan the American girl, the more impressed she’ll be by an accent. As was so perfectly enacted by January Jones’ mini-swoon when Colin claims to hail from “Basildon.”

The three inordinately beautiful girls giggle in delight after begging him to say “bottle” and “straw,” and then pause for a moment of disappointment at “table” because “it’s the same.” An apt spoof. So that’s all fair enough. But then – THEN – those same farmers’ daughters end the evening by dragging the lucky Colin back to their apartment where they share “just a little bed” for a freaking FOURSOME. Stay classy Milwaukee.

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Loving the perception of American women so far. We’re awesome.

Not to be outdone by the women though, American men are represented by none other than Billy Bob Thornton, the Hollywood mogul voted most likely to make women everywhere shudder in revulsion. WHO BETTER to play the US President who sexually harasses a member of the Prime Minister’s staff as she serves tea? Casting slam dunk!

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In a David and Goliath moment of glory, Prime Minister, Hugh Grant defends the honor of his ["she's NOT"] chubby love interest and shows that nasty American man that he is dealing with a civilised AND bad ass Englishman, yo.

This unlikely hero later combs an entire London suburb trying to locate the tea serving charmer and then escorts her to the local nativity play, WHERE (gasp for air) he runs into his sister and receives completely bogus credit for being there for her when she really needs him. This would be after he’s spent the duration of the film avoiding her calls. Well played Mr. Grant.

But who cares if Hugh Grant is a self absorbed politician who can’t find time for that plebe sister who won’t stop calling him. He really GETS love. He even does that voice over introducing the movie THEME:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

That British boy next door… So earnest and upstanding. Wait – what was that? I think somewhere in the world Liz Hurley just guffawed.

But I do love Love Actually. How can I NOT love Love Actually? It’s funny. It’s heartwarming. It’s (mostly) what we really WANT life to be like. And it’s all done with BRITISH ACCENTS.

Which makes everything better.

Say “bottle” Colin.

Squee!

Now say “straw.”

Adorable!

Now say “love.”

Huh.

Actually…it’s the same.

They Coulda’ Been Great: July 2013

 

Another month has passed and exactly 0 blog posts have been written. Some good Facebook activity of course! So here are the “coulda’ been’s” (no idea what I’m talking about? Explanation HERE.)

July 1

3:30 p.m.

Earlier at the pediatrician, Eleanor suggested that doctors look in your ears so they could see your brain. I explained that they wanted to see your eardrums and the other parts that helped you hear. George enthusiastically agreed, “yeah – that’s why they’re called HEARdrums, because they help you HEAR!” then he asked me when they would take us to the teleportation room. What?!

July 3

9:00 a.m.

For everyone who asked about what I got at Zoe Boutique yesterday… Alice & Trixie top (on sale!) and Red Engine boot cut jeans. Necklace and earrings from my own “collection” (i.e. junk).

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July 3

6:50 p.m.

Diane Cooper Gould just explained the difference between pole dancer outfits and stripper outfits to me.

Uh huh.


July 4

9:10 a.m.

Eleanor on her fear of fireworks: “I wish there was a different way to celebrate the earth!”

She thinks the Fourth of July is Earth Day. Another nail in the coffin of my homeschooling potential…

5:32 p.m.

Inconvenient? Yes. Frustrating? Totally. Yet. There is something very freeing about the camera battery dying.


July 6

3:50 p.m.

First French braid! Obviously by a mother who doesn’t “do hair…”

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8:10 p.m.

Did you know that in “Swimbabwe” Africa, there are giant spiders? This is true. George told me.


July 7

4:40 p.m.

Me: No running! You can run in the gym, but not in the hallway.

Eleanor: Can we skip?

I love kids.


July 8

8:25 a.m.

Poor Oliver starts summer school today. We’re calling it “camp school.” He’s not buying what we’re selling…

3:20 p.m.

If your daughter gets a bloody nose in the car, and you don’t have any tissues, napkins or any other forms of paper products, what do you hand her as an emergency substitute? A tampon. Obviously.

10:10 p.m.

Reading the first book of Game of Thrones and it makes me feel like I’m a teenager who has hours to lie on my stomach on my bed, ankles crossed, until I feel like rolling onto my back and reaching for a chocolate chip cookie. To think that I used to consider that time, “being bored.” I miss 14.


July 9

7:30 p.m.

My kids just got their first official chain letter in the mail. I know – the mail?! Who the hell communicates via U.S. Postal Service anymore (other than lawyers and grandma of course)? Well if the chain letter involves mailing stickers to friends, then snail mail it is! And if I was thinking of possibly stashing the letter in in the trash before the kids had a chance to see it…here is the last line: “Please take the time for this quick project. It is worth it to see the smile on your child’s face when they open their mail.” Thanks for the emotional black[chain]mail [letter] Lita! Enjoy neighbors!

7:43 p.m.

Also – I had to explain chain mail that doesn’t happen via e-mail to my 21 year old babysitter. Feeling old…


July 11

9:55 a.m.

Just caught a vicious mosquito in my bare hand. Torn between revulsion and triumph.


July 14

4:45 p.m.

Nothing like listening to your six year old daughter singing Daft Punk in the back seat: “We’re up all night to get lucky…”

8:45 p.m.

Oliver: I’m going upstairs to play with my string.

Did I mention my son is a kitty cat?


July 16

7:57 p.m.

“Just keep on doing it! Then you’ll did it!”

Wise words from George.


July 17

8:22 p.m.

It just occurred to me that Danny, Uncle Jessie and Uncle Joey in season one of Full House are probably a full decade younger than I am now.

That’s depressing…


July 21

8:02 a.m.

Went to the Simply Om launch party last night and have now picked out birthday presents for the next 10 years. Wonder if Kiran does registries…

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simply om necklace

11:19 a.m.

Woods walk with a friend. And jazz hands…

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2:43 p.m.

Just hurt my back vacuuming. Officially old.


July 23

9:17 a.m.

On the walk to camp this morning…

George: This used to be England right?

Me: No – England “claimed” this land but this was never actually England.

George: OH right – so the English guys had a war and then they won and then they had freedom.

Me: Hmmm. That’s mixing a few things up… But you know who was here first?

George: Who?

Me: The Indians. Remember? England “discovered” this land and claimed it, but there were already people living here and THEY thought it was THEIR land. And in all honesty, they were right.

Eleanor: But that was a long time ago – so it’s not our fault. We can’t do anything about it now.

Me: Nope. We just have to live with the aftermath.

George: And the CURSE.

Where does he get this stuff?! Though he’s probably right…


July 24

9:51 a.m.

Just heard a Cranberries song on the radio and thought, “wow it’s been almost 10 years since that came out.” THEN I thought, “no – wait…it’s been almost TWENTY years since that came out.”

Feeling ancient.

And I don’t want to even talk about the Tracy Chapman song that’s on now…

8:13 p.m.

As I sat on the front steps “furminating” Alice:

George: Look at all of the mosquitoes!

Me: You’re right – can you run inside and get the bug spray for me? It’s in the pool bag.

George: Okay – I’ll get it right now!

[five minutes later...]

George: Mom! I can’t find the bug spray! It’s not in the pool bag!

Me: [resigned to a night of itching] That’s okay – I’ll live.

George: Yeah! You’ll live! Because you’ve got millions of blood!

Epilogue: I lived. But just barely.


July 25

6:29 p.m.

George: Mom! In Minecraft – when zombies eat the villager babies…

Me: WAIT! You play a game where zombies eat villager babies?

George: Yeah. In Minecraft. And when the zombies eat the villager babies…

Well – no one ever called me a Helicopter Mom.


July 27

3:57 p.m.

DON’T eat things off the floor! It’s like a grocery store RULE.

I can’t believe I actually have to say these things.


July 28

9:30 p.m.

The last two times we’ve grilled, Oliver has “helped” Chris by lighting the match. And now he LOVES lighting matches.

So I’ll basically never sleep again.

Dads.


July 29

8:36 a.m.

George: There are a lot of dead bugs in the world.

Eleanor: Especially at the pool.

Morning observations.


July 30

8:18 p.m.

The kids are watching Full House.

Chris: I wonder how much they drank on that set… Especially THAT one (Uncle Joey).


July 31

8:19 p.m.

Again – the kids are watching Full House. Some young intern at Danny’s TV station guessed that he “must be 27 or 28.”

Eleanor looks at me and says, “he’s younger than you.”

So I clarified, “he’s not really 28. He’s in his thirties.”

Eleanor: But you’re in your forties. So you’re still older.

Me: Yes – thank you for pointing that out.

Eleanor: But…the thirties are NEXT TO the forties…so I guess it’s not that bad.

Me: We can stop talking about this now.

Teachable Moment of the Day

 

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And just when I thought my family couldn’t lower the bar any further…

This morning as I was getting ready for the day and pretending to listen to Eleanor explain how George can make a trombone sound on his DS, the young gamer himself approached us and laughingly announced, “I just took a picture of my penis.”

The twins then witnessed the only time in history that I have ever expressed an interest in electronic gaming devices of any kind. Because – oh, yes – he certainly did take a picture of his penis. And it wasn’t one of those, “what is that? WAIT – is that a…” kind of pictures. It was crystal clear.

So after ten hysterical minutes of trying to figure out how to delete pictures from a DS (my six year olds have never attempted such a thing) and threatening to set the memory card on fire if hard pressed….I was finally able to erase that particular article of kiddie smut from existence (and hopefully someday from memory).

We have many ridiculous rules in this house. Rules that should just be common sense or courtesy like “we never go outside without pants” and “we never pee on people.” But today, we have officially dipped our toes in the treacherous waters of Using Technology Responsibly with “we never take pictures of penises.”

If only fate had gifted Anthony Weiner’s mother with one of these teachable moments…