Friday, December 30, 2011

Call me Mow


See?  I told you she was getting crafty.  Rose is starting to blossom into one of the most rewarding areas of life -- making stuff.

That's the technical term.

Of course, when you start making stuff -- okay, when you start crafting, you start wanting to make things for other people.  And I, as her loving mother, am honored to get first dibs on her crafting prowess.  Everybody wants to make stuff for their moms, right?  I mean, I am her biggest fan.

And oh, yeah.  I've now gone from "Mom" to "Mow."  But I think it has a nice ring to it, don't you?

 
She was so delighted to get this for Christmas.  And she was bugging me for days to get started.  But it is in my nature to micromanage.  Therefore, she had to wait until I could sit down with her to get her started, and there are, like, three other kids, and, like, where did all these kids come from???

But when I actually did schedule the time, of course, since she's one of the smartest people ever, it took about half a minute to explain it to her so that she would understand.

Fine then.

She may as well move out and get a job.

But I would miss her.

Never mind that her necklace has way more beads than mine.  It's not a reflection of her feelings toward me, but more that this was her first necklace, and she hadn't yet realized that she would eventually run out of materials.

I'm, like, 85% sure.

Like, my California roots are showing.

I digress.


Here's the one Rose made Ivy.  Gotta think of your sisters.


And Lily's.  Isn't it beautiful?  I may never have to spend another dime on jewelry as long as I live.  I mean, the colors just brighten up your face.  

I would show you the one she made Nana, but she's selfishly wearing hers at the moment.

I'm so excited.  It's only the beginning, I'm sure.  Of course, she's already mentioned to me that at this rate, she'll run out of beads very soon, long before she's done making necklaces.

Oh, dear.  

Better start saving, Rose.  Welcome to crafting.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cheerful



Reasons for me to be cheerful this lovely Florida winter afternoon:

1.  I just had a lovely lunch of egg sandwich on and everything bagel with cheese and Tabasco.  I love Tabasco.  I put Tabasco on eggs, on my cheeseburger, on my Tabasco.  It's delicious and spicy.  And now my dream is that someone from the Tabasco corporation will see this post somehow and send me some.

Thanks in advance, Tabasco person.

2.  I looked up my credit score the other day.  It's wayyyy better than I thought it was, which after the troublesomeness (Yeah, it's a word... that I made up) of the past few years, was a bit of a happy surprise.  I now have new found motivation to save for a house for me and the crew.

Splendid!

3.  The twins wanted two kisses apiece this morning when I left them at daycare.  Lovely toddler kisses.  And it was an added bonus that neither of them stuck a tongue out at the last minute.  They do that sometimes.

4.  I'm back home!

5.  I have found that my oldest daughter is crafty.  Not sneaky; I mean she loves crafts.  She's actually the opposite of sneaky.  She's terrible at hiding things.  She's very upfront and honest and loud, and I like these things about her.  But she also loves making things and drawing, and as an art history major and crafter myself, this pleases me greatly.  Now we have something to bond over.

6.  My feet are chilly.  While that may not cause immediate cheerfulness, I am cheerfully looking forward to putting on my warm, soft, cozy socks.

7.  My son loves hanging out with me.  He's three, and it probably won't last long.  I'm loving it while it lasts.

8.  My friends and family make me laugh... intentionally.

9.  I got a gift card to Old Navy, and I used it.  I have a package coming with clothes for me!  Not the kids, me.  Me, me, me, me, me.  I was told I wasn't supposed to spend it on the kids this time.

Ouch.  Don't twist my arm.

10.  God loves me.  And while that should always be enough, sometimes I forget.

But I'm remembering now.  (Insert smile here.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Erstwhile...

I have been absent.

Again.

Good reason, actually.


Farewell to hectic city life...


Hello again to relaxed Florida life... and friends we missed... and loverly weather...

Yay!

Still getting settled in, though.  So hope to get revved up again soon on the old blog-a-rooni.  

See you soon...  



Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Friday


Here's to the telecommute day.

Here's to getting to drink coffee so strong you could stand a spoon up in it instead of the daily gamble brewed by the inconsistently cantankerous man in the cafeteria at work.  (This is after putting a ton of half-and-half in it.  Yummmm.)

Just kidding, inconsistently cantankerous coffee man.  Please don't spit in my coffee.

Here's to having a bit of time to research the perfect recipe for making deliciously strong iced coffee (FOUND IT!  see: Pioneer Woman - Perfect Iced Coffee) to take to work to save paying money for aforementioned daily gamble made by inconsistently cantankerous coffee man.  (I've tried to take hot coffee to work, but by the time I get to enjoy it, it's disgustingly lukewarm.  Ew.  Coffee either needs be very hot or very cold and very, very strong.  Don't mess with my standards.)

Here's to my sweet, sweet at-home work set-up.  Yes, that is my great-grandmother's antique sewing table.  Yes, that is a TV tray for my awesome ergo keyboard.  Yes, that is evidence of my mad organization skills scattered round my laptop.  Don't be jealous because I'm fancy.

Here's to being able to wash bibs and towels, listen to NPR, eat a terribly messy egg and cheese sandwich bagel, wait for the cable guy, work on my intellectually stimulating blog (don't laugh), and sketch room organization plans whilst waiting for my next assignment. 

I can't help it.  It's a good morning.  Have a wonderful Friday!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tough Love



My beautiful, sweet mom asked me toward the end of a recent evening if I was in a bad mood.  I said no and asked why she would think such a thing.  Apparently I was short with the kids.

Pshaw.


What some would consider short, I consider the thin line between the world's smallest semblance of order and utter hurricane-force chaos.  I think of myself as less the irate, harried, nearly-psychotic mother I seem on the outside and more as a cool capable drill sergeant toughening up these little pansies to become better, stronger versions of themselves. 


In fact, I've come to appreciate what I call the Captain Von Trapp style of parenting.  I think it's absolutely ridiculous to have let that hippie Maria woman come in and turn such a orderly household completely upside-down with her laughing and singing nonsense.
 


Obviously, I would never allow such a thing to happen with my charges.  No singing.  No laughing.  No playing of any kind.  ORDER!  I MUST HAVE ORDER AT ALL TIMES!



Now, where did I put that whistle?

 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bubbles, Bug, and Gamer Guy



Okay.  I always hope nobody is peeved by my bogart-ing their awesome pics.  But I couldn't help it.  You can see why.  This is a picture of my friend Bubbles and her Little Bug done by Zoey Photography, who, by the way, does the cutest child photography as you can see.  I love how non-staged this looks and how much it just completely shows off Bubbles' beautiful personality, and it's just so dynamic. 

I just can't stop looking at it.  But I'll try.

And it's apropos (there's an idea) because Bubbles is on her way... I mean, driving hundreds of miles... right now!  Yippee!!!  SO EXCITED. 

Give me a minute while I collect myself.

Okay.  I'm done.

I haven't seen them since before Little Bug was born, and I've missed them.  And now I get to look forward to good wine, good company, good food, and just being our good ol' selves for the weekend while I show them around my fair city.  Gamer Guy, her husband, will also be accompanying them, which is awesome because he is awesome, and he's pretty good at keeping us rowdy girls somewhat grounded.

Somewhat.   

Did I say YIPPEE!!!?

I'll let you know how it goes.

'Til then...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Laziness Continued...

Yet another gratuitous sleeping baby shot.  Rose when she was one and being spoiled by her mama whilst clutching her absolute favorite book at the time.  "Honey, you don't feel good?  You can sleep in the big bed."  Sippy cup - check.  Pooh - check.  Pacifier - check check.  Awwwww....

Anway.... back to this post.  So I thought that I might post some original thoughts on my blog, but then I had another thought.  It went something like, "Eh....(sigh)... nah." 

I'm a deep thinker.

So I thought I'd give a shout out to another one of my favorite bloggers.  (See:  The Pioneer Woman)  I love this blog.  I love this woman/family in a not quite stalker-ish sort of way.  But that's what happens when you happen to be awesome and funny and write about it. 

I wouldn't really know...

Anywhoo, she published a post regarding her favorite John Hughes films.  Since I mostly agree, and would have said practically the same thing if I'd thought of it and had energy and brain capacity, here you go: 


You're welcome.  I have to online movie shop now...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lazy



Paresseux in French
Perezoso in Spanish
Pigro in Italian
Faul in German
ленивый in Russian (ha... say that five times fast)

They all mean lazy, and that's what I've been.

And who am I to break a perfectly great streak of laziness so soon?  So my post today is actually somebody else's.  I love this blog.  It's about one of the cutest, funniest, heartwarming, and frank families I've ever read about in a blog.  Warning... while this blog is maintained by one of the absolute cutest families I've ever read about in a blog, this post is completely gross.  Funny, but gross.  So read at your own risk. 

I was laughing so hard, I had tears.  And this was at work, but, again, they're used to my quirks by now.


(Nothing to do with my Lily, by the way.)

Cheers. 

And yes, I did just put in a gratuitous cute newborn (Ivy) shot at the top.  Thank you for understanding.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Battery Acid Has No Caffeine And Other Funny Lines



Martha:  Why don't you just poor battery acid down your throat?
Henry:  No caffeine.


On particularly tough mornings should I, for example, sleep in, forget my glasses, have a remarkably defiant 3-year-old son, a 4-year-old daughter with the sour attitude of a teenager, twin almost-2-year-olds who don't understand that having one's sibling briefly touch one's possession does not mean losing that possession for all eternity, when the day looms ahead with everything hanging on from yesterday, yesterweek, yesteryear that hasn't gotten accomplished and the coffee just can't brew fast enough, I mentally turn to Keaton.

Yeah, that's right.  Michael Keaton.

Anyone familiar with Keaton's work might just assume Mr. Mom.  Sure, that would be an easy assumption and an apt comparison, i.e. dealing with an overwhelming life with kids.

But they'd be wrong.

Uh-uh.  I'm talking about the opening scenes of The Paper, one of the best movies ever.  EVER.  And really just the whole thing.  If you haven't seen it, go get it.  No, I don't care if you're at work or making dinner or performing a neurosurgery at the moment.  GO GET IT.  (And by the way, I think it's extremely bad form to be reading this blog whilst performing neurosurgery.  I know it's truly gripping, but for shame.)

Between the hectic, flawed personal/professional lives of the characters played by some seriously talented actors -- the aforementioned Keaton as well as Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, Marisa Tomei, and seriously Jason Alexander is pretty great in there, too -- it's a spot-on portrayal of getting the stuff kicked out of you by the things you pour yourself into and really care about.  Plus it's just a really funny film (despite the very harsh language).

And since it seems to be one of those days, I believe that once the kids are in bed, I will be doing my darndest to hunt it down on cable, pour a glass of wine, and commiserate with Henry, Martha, Bernie, Alicia, and McDougal over stumbling and pushing through the tough stuff and remembering to focus on what's really important at the end of the day.

Feel free to join me this time or any other as this day will most certainly be coming around again and again.

And as always, thank you, God, for giving me people in life who are and a life itself that is so amazingly worthwhile.  Amen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gratitude

Hallelujah!  And Amen!  And Glory, Glory! 

What is this you say?  What miracle has occurred you ask?  I'll tell you.  A life or death (not really) battle of the will has been won.  Me versus Me in a fight to the finish (of a work assignment).  Me won!!! 

Luckily Me had God on her side because the other Me was bringing Me down.  Confused?  That's okay.  I talk funny when I'm sleepy. 

I had been working on this assignment for wayyyyyyyy longer than it should have taken.  I thought it would never be done.  So last night, I was working on it, eventually whilst simultaneously sleeping.  (Oh, yes, I am a master sleep typist.  It looks something like "Sir, can you please explain how youffje'wafeejr ;areoa' zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....", which does not make for a happy client.)  So I decided to go to bed and set my alarm for five hours later.   I have discovered I need at least five hours in order to maintain my usual sweet and sunny disposition.  (For those who know me, please kindly keep your comments to yourself.  Thank you.)

However, this was a risky move since in the past I have only jumped out of bed at 3:30 a.m. in order to angrily smash the button on my alarm clock so the infernal thing will never again dare to disturb my sweet, sweet slumber.  I rarely stop to consider the reason the alarm might have been set that early in the first place. 

But not today!  Miraculously, I almost crawled back in bed, but something made me get in that desk chair and start working.  I don't know what it was (or do I?).  It certainly wasn't the Me I'm used to.  I worked this morning from 3:30 a.m to 5:45 a.m. when I went into my normal whirlwind of jumping in the shower and getting the kids ready for their child development center.  But not before hitting a very satisfying "Send" button from my email account with my assignment attached. 

Hooray!  Thank you, God, for small (or maybe large) victories!

And this will be me tonight.... zzzzzzzzzzzz......



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life and Other Difficult/Wonderful Things


Ah, Leif.  And now the world can see a small portion of the funniness you bring into our lives...

Anywayyyy.... Does anyone know where I can get a free housekeeper?  Oh, and a cook, and a personal secretary, and while I'm at it, I'd like a professional barista to set up in my kitchen to bring me strong, strong coffee whenever I desire.  Because then I think I might be able to handle life with utter skill and elegance.  I'll be able to raise my kids, work full time, work extra time, keep up this dusty and cobwebby blog, and my small (read:  teensy weensy) jewelry shop, plus keeping a handle on the various birthdays and anniversaries and other special events and correspondence of every friend and family member I love and care about and take the kids on mahhhvelous day trips on the weekends throughout the city and, and, and....

No? 

Okay...

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the challenge... sometimes... Other times I want ship my family off to New Zealand and shut myself in my room for five minutes of quiet time.  (Note to self:  Find out if Air New Zealand offers discounts for a large-group, five-minute flight.)  But really in theory I love that my life is so challenging, even when I'm busy wishing it wasn't quite so HARD.

Very hard.  Right now, it's just very, very hard.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm so blessed in so many ways.  And I'm definitely not alone.  And I have this sick, twisted feeling that once it's not hard anymore, I might miss some of the hardness.  (Hey, I did say it was sick and twisted.)  I have so much, but the hard get's ya. 

So...   

Thank God for a God who listens to prayer.

Thank God for my finally being able to learn in 30-odd years of living not to wait until I'm screaming on the inside (and sometimes on the outside) to pour out all my fears and complaints and let Him grab me up. 

Thank God for a God who loves, loves, LOVES me when I'm handling life's challenges with a less than gracious (read:  crude, whiny, angry, mean) manner.

One of the awesome things I really love about having kids is scooping up one of them really, really enveloping them in my arms, hugging, laughing, and thinking later that God is doing the same with me.  Even when I'm showing him attitude worthy of a pouty, tantrum-throwing one-year-old, He wants to grab me up and tell me He loves me.

This is where I hope to keep my mind as I keep messily going forward each day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lily's Incredible Dancing Hair


I love this girl's hair.  Good thing because I have the same hair.  It looks a teensy bit cuter on her... okay a whole lot cuter.  Lily's hair is gorgeous.  It's really good hair for...


  ... DANCING!  Go, Lily, go!

(Wait, what happened to Ivy?)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saturday Fun

I love this:


This weekend God blessed Rose, Leif, and I with the opportunity to do something fun and different.  So we went bowling.   That's my boy patiently waiting for that ball to get to those pins.  And when I say patiently, I mean it.  Because a two-and-a-half-year-old boy can only push a six pound bowling ball so hard, and there were times it didn't make it.  But it wasn't for lack of concentration.

That's for sure.




Sunday Snapshot


Monday, March 28, 2011

Lord, I Was Born a Ramblin' Man...



Well, maybe not a ramblin' man.  If I was, my parents have some splainin' to do.  (Sorry -- I Love Lucy reruns yesterday.  I thought it was time my children were exposed to the classics.)

Enough with the mixed pop culture references, though.  I have been MIA from this blog.  Sometimes it feels like everything comes down on you at once.  No excuses, though.  I've missed getting on here.  But as I am now getting over a stomach bug, I feel I will need to ease back in slowly... So I'm lobbing a softball here. 

In case you were wondering (and don't pretend that you weren't), here are 10 of the places I would love, love, love to go someday.  Even when I am sick in bed, I dream of travel.  One day...

1.  Ireland.  (see picture above, sigh)  One of my college professors once asked me if I was Irish because he heard all Irish people have an innate desire to return to Ireland.  I have no idea.  I believe I've narrowed down a good percentage of my roots to somewhere in the local of the British Isles.  I suspect I'm Welsh... and therefore maybe just a bit confused or geographically challanged.

2.  Costa Rica.  I had an opportunity to go here in high school with the Environmental Club.  Yep, Environmental Club.  I was a super cool tree hugger back in the day.  I have lost a tiny bit of the activist zeal, but I figure that's because now I'm a busy super cool kid hugger now.  My own kids.  Not random kids.  Unless they hug me first.

3.  Germany.  I love all the German people I meet.  It must be a fun place, especially since they remodeled it back in the '90s.  (Haha political humor... nothing?... okay.)  Plus I'm a big fan of good beer.  I don't think I need any other reasons.

4.  Turkey.  Turkish coffee.  Haggia Sophia.  Vastly different culture. 

5.  Israel.  It's a Christian thing... 

6.  Flagstaff, Arizona. I've actually been here.  It was beautiful.  Actually, I have absolutely loved every national park I've ever been to.  Yellowstone, Black Hills, Eureka, et cetera.  Support your national parks, and get out there; they're wonderful.  Which leads me to...

7.  Camping... Anywhere...  It's not an actual place, but I like to put it down because it's actually doable in the near future.  I like to say that since I could never get anyone to go with me, I bred my own camping buddies.  They are my minions, and they have no choice.  Mwah-hahaha!  Now, I just have to wait until their old enough. 

8.  China.  They have that great wall... (hahaha... still nothing?... oh, well.)

9.  Paris.  Food, art, architecture, wine.

10.  Budapest.  East meets West in a beautiful, beautiful way. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How To Be Alone



Not a lot to write just now...

I'm so completely, completely busy this week trying to work extra. So I can buy a house someday.

Of course, this is very far off, and there are things we'll need sooner.

Like t-shirts for the twins.

And a wastebasket for my room.

And, man, it would be great to walk around in actual rain boots when it's raining.

And there's always bills, bills, bills.

But when I work extra, I'm thinking about the house we'll have someday. And how I'll set it up and decorate it and all of the friends the kids and I will have in it.

But I took a break to watch this video because I'm sleepy. It's about being brave and alone which struck me because God has been teaching me to be brave this week. In fact, I think he's been teaching me that lesson for a while, but He really got somewhere with me a couple days ago. I LOVE Him for that and so much more.

I'll talk more about that soon, I think.

Of course, I'm slightly sleep deprived.

So bear with me.

Or be a bear.

Maybe I should go to bed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Night Time Haiku

loud whispers in bed
late at night I hear them both
driving me crackers


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Exquisite Moments #1

I just had to share:


This was a rainy day when they were nine months old and they had just learned how to pull themselves up.  I think it's beautiful how they're just watching the rain.  I remember it was quiet and Ivy was putting her hand on the glass where the raindrops were on the glass and Lily just stared.  Sigh and smile....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Musings Over Leftover Himalayan Karahi



I'm doing it again... not reading.  I was going great guns with my favorite by-myself past-time.  And now I'm fighting off attack of the fried brain

Here is a bit of what is doing the frying, i.e. what is on my mind today -- the bigger stuff:

Better/more convenient childcare:  Great googly moogly.  This is the complete bane of my days.  Do you know how hard it is to find good childcare as a single mom in a city where people pay over a thousand per month per kid???  Do you?  Boy, I hope not.  I don't even make a thousand per month per kid.  Thank the Lord for the child care subsidy.  However, not everyone takes the voucher, let alone while having space for three kids.  Hello, waiting list.

Where to live in six months:  Big family for a city.  Little income.  Want safe neighborhood and awesome metro access.  Pretty please?

Where to live in six years:  No kidding.  I'm a planner.  Big family moves to suburbs.  Little income.  Want safe, pretty neighborhood and awesome schools.  Pretty, pretty please???

I'm all about finding the balance, though.  So I put these on my mind, too.

Rose's mad Spanish skills:  I took four years of high school Spanish.  I actually remember a great deal. 

I have no idea what Rose is saying to me with six months of preschool Spanish, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

Plus it's funny now that she has the ability to be bossy now in both English and Spanish.

Leif's mad English skills:  He's becoming quite loquacious.  It's awesome to find out what he's actually thinking.  What Leif says often sounds like poetic genius.  He speaks in haiku.   

Okay, well not really haiku.  But he has these awesome thoughts.  Do birds eat the sun?  Poetic genius or something else.  But I prefer poetic genius. 

Lily's awesome scolding skills:  I have absolutely no idea what she's saying.  But it's hilarious.  She points at you, furrows her wee eyebrows, and gives you what for.  She uses whatever syllables come to mind. 

I try not to think that she's actually just soaked up 17 months of mommy constantly doing something similar. 

And that it probably sounds about the same.

Ivy's whistling:  My littlest precious one began whistling when she was eight months old.  I kid you not.  So if I whistle, most of the time she will, too.  It's pretty cool.

And she watches television like Mike TV from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 

Only sometimes. 

(Insert big smile here.)

And I do love living here.  (See:  picture snapped with BlackBerry above.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Wine Guy and The Chef Girl

This is Wine Guy and Chef Girl, also known as my brother and and my sister-in-law.

And this is an introduction to two of the most awesome people ever.

(I hope they don't mind I stole their picture.  It's a great picture.)


Wine Guy is my little brother.  He's very focused and very creative.  He'll tell you he had a rebel phase.  Well, I'm calling it the rebel phase.  

It was in the second grade.

I'm serious.  That's when he went through his devil-may-care, I'm-only-doing-what-I-want phase when he was, say, seven years old.  Then he got his act together in the third grade.  He got down to business.

Wine Guy has wanted to be two things his whole growing up life.  (Okay... maybe with the exception of saying he wanted to be a garbage man in kindergarten... but I don't think that counts.)  What he decided in the third grade, or thereabouts, was that he was going to be a doctor, a laparoscopic surgeon.  He went on to study hard, take Latin (the better to learn complicated medical terminology), and watch every cable surgery show he could find.

I know.  I was there.  I had to watch them, too.  I've seen things.  Things I never needed to see.  I've seen the insides of things I never needed to see.

Then he began working in a restaurant in high school, and they found out he was awesome.  So they trained him on everything.  That's when he decided to become a chef.

Now, this is amazing to me.  I have wanted to be about 67 things in my life.  I changed majors in colleges  about six or seven times in four or five different colleges.  I'm not kidding.


I did actually settle and graduate.  But I'm not quite as focused, you might say.

When Wine Guy decided to become a chef, he went out for the best culinary school in the U.S with ten letters of recommendation and an extremely competitive scholarship.  There he met the girl of his dreams, Chef Girl.  Two peas in a pod, you might say.

You might say a lot.  I like putting words in your mouth.

Chef Girl is one of the absolute sweetest people I have ever met.  In fact, I wondered what she saw in Wine Guy.  Because of course, Wine Guy is my little brother.  I remember him -- as amazing as he is -- as being an annoying booger growing up.  But if she thinks he's a booger now, he's her booger.  And they're perfect together.

Chef Girl also comes from a family of very interesting, fun, friendly, creative people.  I want to be them when I grow up.

Like that's ever going to happen... growing up.

She also has wonderful taste in things.  Plus she's a wonderful gift giver.  Plus she has great ideas and is fun and sporty.  I love, love, love her.  And she is the BEST chef.  I want her to be my personal chef, but I could only pay her in love and gratitude.

Apparently, you can't pay your bills with love and gratitude.  Sigh...

Together, they have an up-and-coming, successful, cool restaurant in the South.  It's one of those places where the idea seemed iffy at first -- snazzy, but iffy -- and you wonder if it's going to work.

It totally worked.  And the restaurant/bar is the hot new place to go.

Plus they teach, plus they write, plus they have wine tastings/classes, plus they got invited to audition for a cooking series, plus they travel, plus they have the fifth most adorable kid in the universe. 

Yes, the fifth. 

If you don't know who the first four are, you haven't been reading this blog.  Shame on you.  (See: Rose, Leif, Lily, and Ivy)

Plus Wine Guy has this awesome master certification in wine and spirits I can't remember the name of.  Shame on me.

Plus they always send me the most awesome bourbon for Christmas.  Cuz they know I'm a bourbon girl. 

(More about awesome bourbon later.)

Wine Guy, Chef Girl, and Little Gourmet, you are amazing.

Come make me food.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Stuff and Nonsense

I am not an especially sunny person.

At least I don't think so.  I would actually describe myself is unequivocally moody.  I tend to react dramatically to whatever influences are happening inside and outside my being, and therefore, I have great bouts of melancholy as well as cheeriness. So some days I am in the mood to really get on here and talk about darker and sadder things.

And sometimes when I get my political ire up, I want to blog about political things or human rights things (which I happen to really feel passionate about... so I still might).

However...

I have made the final decision that as non-intellectual and un-deep (like my new word?) as it may be, Mama Poobah is going to be a lighter place.  A place to blog about things I love and happier things.

And the occasional human rights issue.

Which I also love.

On that note (the things I love note, not the human rights note)... if you are ever shopping for me, please feel free to drop by Etsy.

Really.  Go ahead right now and pick something out.  Actually, pick out two -- one for you and one for me.  Mine can be the cheaper one; I don't mind.

This store is my virtual home away from home. It's so crafty, beautiful, and eclectic.  And kitschy if that's what you like.

Ooh, here's something.  Irish-y scarf.  Because I'm, like, 1/27th Irish (give or take 1/27th).


And this is cool.  I like bees.  And they would feel at home in my downtown apartment.  Okay.  I won't get this, but it's awesome anyway.


Wow.


Pretty.


 Okay.  So practically speaking, I would never actually get one of my girls a tutu unless I could suddenly afford ballet, but seriously... how cute is this...

 

Okay.  I'm done.

For now.

Plus you get to send stuff to people and impress them with where it's coming from.  I sent my sister-in-law this gorgeous scarf handmade in Turkey.  I'm pretty sure it was more fun for me to send than it was for her to receive it.  Though I've gotten something awesome from places like Boise as well.

Anyway, that's my pitch for today.

Etsy, feel free to credit my account.

I wish. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Little Things

Life gets rough sometimes.  And complicated.  Not like Libya rough and complicated, but sometimes enough to weigh you down quite a bit.  Especially when you lose perspective. 

But there are things -- if your head is not hanging too low to actually look around -- that...

Well, you know if you see them.

Today, life is complicated.  But I'm making sure to see.  My Ivy bent down to kiss me the other day for the first time.  I was lying on the ground, and suddenly she was there. 

And this: 




My Grandma sends us oranges from her tree in California.  The best oranges ever.

God, thank you for the little things.

Grandma, thank you for the oranges.

Ivy, thank you for my kiss.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Thirteenth Tale

Sleep is my new best friend. 

I used to be frustrated with Sleep.  We weren't on speaking terms before, and I really didn't want to need her, didn't want to spend any time with her.  But now I like her.  I hang out with her earlier and earlier these past few evenings, and it's been wonderful. 

We're buds now.

Which is probably why between that and the drama that manages to pop up in life and shock me out of my normal activities (even when I'm old enough to know better than to not expect it), I haven't spent as much time on reading and blogging.  So for all you disappointed fans out there -- all one-and-a-half of you -- I have just finished The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. 

Okay, well, actually I've just finished it for the second time.  And here's the puzzle pour moi:  Was I in a completely weird place the first time I read this book, or am I in a seriously funky way now?  Because this book did not hit me the same way twice.

Don't get me wrong.  I loved the book the first time and truly enjoyed it the second.  I just hadn't remembered it being so wacky. 

Umm... wacky is really the wrong word.  This book is a bit more esoteric than that.  But if you think your family is a bit off, you've got nothing on the Angelfield family.  Or maybe you do.  In that case, I'm very, very sorry.

Personally, I love reading about people who love to read, which is why I picked up the book in the first place.  The narrator, Margaret, is an wonderfully obsessive reader who is asked to write the biography of the most popular, yet mysterious writer of her day, Vida Winter.  This book centers around family or lack thereof, twinness and separation, secrets and truth. 

I do recommend this book, but it's not the feel-good story of the year.  There is a lot of wading through sadness.  Though, if you are like me, the story is beautiful and will pull you in. 

I really dislike when stories are spoilt for me, and so I'd really rather give too little than too much. 

I will, however, say this:  Diane Setterfield is good with words, and this is very important to me.  I love language and I appreciate good word craftsmanship.  You can usually tell within the first paragraph -- the first sentence if the writer is truly gifted* -- whether a writer knows what he/she is doing and merely telling a story or painting an image.

And while the first line from The Thirteenth Tale isn't a revolutionary one, she did get me with this in the first paragraph both times:

Through the glass in the door it cast a foolscap rectangle of paleness onto the wet pavement, and it was a while I was standing in that rectangle, about to turn my key in the door, that I first saw the letter.  Another white rectangle, it was on the fifth step from the bottom where I couldn't miss it.

It has a lovely sense of rhythm and symmetry and imagery that grabs me from the beginning.  And while she can get a bit gloomy and depressing (and who doesn't like a good gloomy story on the moors sometimes?) Ms. Setterfield does know how to weave a story.

You might want to start it when you're cheerful, though.  Starting it when you're already down may make you not want to get out of bed.

But then maybe I can just lend you my new friend, Sleep.

*See: George Orwell:  It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen; 
Jane Austen:  It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife;
Charles Dickens:  Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show; 
C.S. Lewis:  There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it; 
Leo Tolstoy:  Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way;
I could go on forever.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rose

This is Rose.

Someday...

... she's going to help run the world.

Be ready.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Gremlins

Great.

I can feel it coming on.

The complaint gremlin is comin' to get me.  I feel his bony, gnarly, icky hands on my shoulders.  He's behind me holdin' on, and I know I'm gonna have a heck of a time shakin' him off.

Ew.

My kids have been sick, but I've been praising and thanking God that I haven't been and can, therefore, take care of them.  Up to today, I've been happy and grateful that I can just hold onto my babies and try to make them feel better without having to muscle through my own gross flu bug.  I can handle anybody's grossness if I don't have to handle my own.  Give me the worst; I can take it, clean it, and hug it.

But now... NOW, I have dread.  And that leads to complaining for me.  I have to get through an unpleasant event at 4:00 this afternoon with an unpleasant person who I kinda see as my real gremlin.

And now everything stinks. Grrrr.

Where's that praise and gratitude now?

It's somewhere around here.  I promise.  In the meantime, I get to spend time all weekend with these guys:


I feel better already.

I think I'll make some muffins.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Leif


Dear Leif,
You, my only son, completely crack me up.  And it's never, ever on purpose.  Your gentle sincerity morphs into rambunctious hilarity, and adds fullness and variety to our would-be girly lives.  You are my little man with big man potential.  You make me nervous of how to do right by you in raising you.  But I know you will be destined for something wonderful, and I hope never to get in your way.  I want so much for you and from you as you become a man, but that's mercifully somewhat far off.  So for now, I just enjoy your growly laughter, your wanting to be close, and, most of all, your always-surprising and always-cherished trust in me.  I love you, Bud.

Love,
Your mom.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sunday Breakfast

Got up and made quinoa pancakes for the grown-ups.


Mostly because it was the only recipe I could find for which I had all the ingredients.


They turned out pretty good.  Kinda like down-home, rustic goodness.


Oh, and I like REAL bacon, but Nana and Pops have these ideas about health and... whatever.  This is turkey bacon which is good, too.

 
Eat up, precious family.

My Morning Verse

Okay, now I realize I'm not exactly hitting the ground running this morning.  I have yet to have taken even a sip of coffee.

Wait for it...

Sigh... two sips for good measure.  That's a start.  But I digress.

I do have a tiny headache starting at the top of my head, and I've got a lot on my mind that might make me a little, let's say, crabby.  But of all things, my Verse-a-Day Calendar is ticking me off.  Besides the annoying, touristy, cheesy picture of two hibiscuses for today, Wednesday, February 9, 2011 (usually the pictures are good -- I cheated and checked tomorrow's.  It's a good misty, tops of mountains through the fog number.  Very nice... again, I digress.)...

But here's the main thing:  I'm coming in here without my coffee with a lot on my mind, and basically I feel like my brain is the top of the mountain not yet able to peek over the fog.  I mean I can barely formulate these words.  As a matter of fact, stop reading right now.  These words are mush and blech.  I just have to say, though, that as I peeled back yesterday, Tuesday, February 8, 2011 and looked for a little bit of reason, meditation, and clarity, I read this:

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.  II Timothy 1:6 KJV

I mean, seriously, Verse-a-Day people?  I'm barely able to form a cohesive thought and this is what you give me at 7:30 a.m.?  What are you thinking?  Did King James actually put this calendar together himself while he was directing the translation of God's Word into the English language?  He said, "Oh, by the way, mine faithful scholars, couldst thou whip up a Verse-a-Day calendar for 2011 while you're at it?"  To me, that would be the only acceptable excuse for hitting the general scripture-seeking population with this translation before (and that's when we generally look at our daily calendars) we get our coffee.  Honestly, I would barely be able to decipher this one at noon when I'm rather at my best.

So for those of you, like me, who cannot let this slide unaddressed (and I'm sure there are tens of you), I've saved you the trouble of looking up more morning-friendly translations of this verse:

My personal favorite.  I happen to have a soft spot for the New Century Version, which has always been clearest to me.  My New Century Version has been with me since college and is now quite literally falling apart.  That's what I get for cheaping out and buying a paperback.

This is why I remind you to keep using the gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. Now let it grow, as a small flame grows into a fire.  II Timothy 1:6 NCV 

And okay, Mom.  Since you think American Standard Version is, like, the only real way to read it (or you used to) because it's, "directly from the Greek and Hebrew," (isn't that what we all say about our favorite?  Because it's true.) this one is for you. 

For which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands.  II Timothy 1:6 ASV

And, of course, the universally loved.  Everybody loves a good New International Version.  So here y'all go.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. II Timothy 1:6 NIV

Wait, one more.  This is pretty good, too.

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. II Timothy 1:6 NLT

The point is, there are tons of options out there.

And now that I've made my point, I would like to mention that I do see beauty in the King James Version.  It hearkens from a day when I think the educated truly appreciated their language and wanted to make something wonderful.  And without Jimmy (Sometimes I call him Jimmy or King Jimmy.  He thinks it's funny.  I really hope you've stopped reading by now.) I would be sitting here trying to decipher my morning Bible verse in LATIN. 

Great googly moogly. 

Have a wonderful and blessed day. 

Coffee's kicking in.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Basil Money Plant

Long, long ago, (okay, well maybe like 2 years or so) when I still harbored illusions of being this awesome, crafty, lovely stay-at-home mom, I bought a basil plant.  It was not my first basil plant.  As a matter of fact, I had been pretty effective -- given my thumb is definitely nowhere near a shade of green -- at growing rosemary.  Of course, rosemary is hearty and hard to kill and smells wonderful.  But it makes you feel good when it gets big and beautiful under your care.  So I felt pretty good planting my fragrant sweet basil plant. 

While digging the hole for my tiny fragile plant, who should come calling but a monster of a one-year-old bent on destruction.  Rose, in all her charming toddler curiosity, had grabbed the aformentioned basil plant and pulled it completely apart and out of its temporary, flimsy, plastic pot -- disecting, if you will. 

Aww... the budding little botanist.

I should have reminded her that botanists don't kill -- or they shouldn't.  However, I (because I am naturally such a calm and collected being) shrieked and snatched it back and lectured her for who knows how long on the propriety of touching other people's things.  I'm sure she retained every word. 

I gathered up the massacred plant as my daughter sat playing with rocks.  (She doesn't truamatize easily.  Good thing.)  Since there were a few roots holding desperately to a stem and one-and-a-half leaves, I planted the poor thing anyway and said a little prayer.  And then, of course, I lectured her again while she stared up at me incomprehensively -- or wise beyond her years.  Who knows?

It survived.  I don't know if it's still there today, but it lived!  I watered and tended it and took care of the wee patient until it resembled a healthy member of the garden.  I felt pretty good about it.

What does this have to do with anything?

Well, I was reminded of this story and how I now am that monster one-year-old with the basil plant.  Only the basil plant is my bank balance.  Grrr...  How do I do this to me? 

As a single mom (Oh yeah, I say that a lot.  Get used to it.  I'm still adjusting. I say with love.) with sporadic child support, the four kids and I, along with wonderful helpful parents who depend on my financial contribution as well, live pretty paycheck to paycheck.  Okay, there's no pretty about it.  I am Ms. Squeaking By. 

By God's great and wonderful grace, He provides us with what we need. (Can I get an Amen?)  We are sooooooooo blessed.  Just want to emphasize that.  WAY BLESSED.  Did you get that?  However, it's obviously through no financial wizardry on my part. 

Not even a little.

So I should have been more than a little suspicious when I felt like I could breathe. 

Caution To Self:  If you feel like you can breathe, double check.  Something is wrong. 

But I didn't.  I rejoiced and bought a couple things (not like Caribbean vacation or new handbag, okay?  Like stuff kids needed, blah, blah, blah) and threw caution to the wind.  Yay!  So when I reconciled my checking and found it wanting, I hyperventilated.  Then I called my mommy.

She's awesome.  She listened calmly.  She said stuff like, "I know you don't want us to bail you out."  She's right.  I hate being bailed out.  I just wanted somebody to freak out to in a major, major way.  (See: tears, yelling, whining, et cetera.)  It turns out I put in a small deposit twice.  Seriously? 

Yes, seriously.

So I am at once the monster one-year-old devastating the already fragile plant.  But I am also the amateur plant doctor watching, waiting, tending to make sure the old bank balance plant survives, and maybe one day, thrives.

Thanks, Mom.  I love you guys.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ivy


This is Ivy.
It's hard to get Ivy's picture.
She's not camera shy.
She's too cool to pose for one. 
Look at that cool do.
Look at that cool sweater.
Look at that cool chair.
That's Ivy.
Too cool.

Gluten-Free Success

I made these delicious pumpkin muffins.  They are yummy.  This is a big deal, because my first gf muffin experience was kind of not yummy.  They were dry and... well, dry.  As someone who used to pride herself on her muffin-making prowess before the days of switching off gluten, this was a big dent in my pride.

These are good, though.  Really, really.  I had to make a couple adjustments because I didn't have everything.  But still, really good.  Anyway, they look like this: 


I really piled on the batter because it made more than 12 muffins worth.  But I think they were better that way.  I like big, fat muffins -- but not the store kind.  These kind.

Yay!

Best Intentions



I'll admit it.  My evenings get away from me sometimes.

I watched this Jamie Oliver give the most amazing talk on my computer at work.  I was waiting for an assignment and my daughter happened to be with me (snow day) eating her breakfast of eggs from the cafeteria.  I watched it and was inspired.   In my mind's eye, I see fresh veggies, protein, homemade healthy food.

"Rose," I said, "You guys need to eat healthier food."  I was ready.  "And you're going to help me make veggies and get your brother and sisters to eat them, right?"  Because where she goes, they follow.  At least where it comes to suspicious greens.

"Yeah!" she says.

So we find this recipe by one of my favorite bloggers, and we have a plan to go home and dig out the acorn squash that's been sitting in my pantry for six months.

Don't worry.  Squash last forever it seems.  Can't even throw it out.

It haunts me.

So we get home eight hours later and all the kids are up and refreshed from their naps... and I'm tired.

 "Anybody want to watch Shawn the Sheep?" I ask.

"Mommy, I don't think I want to help with the vegetable then."

That's okay.  We don't have anything to have the darned squash with anyway.  What we do have is a mountain of (leftover) oven fries.  Oven fries it is, with eggs, (leftover) bacon, toast -- breakfast for dinner. How many eggs can a four-year-old eat in one day and not keel over?

And it took Rose two hours to eat three tiny wedges of oven fries.  They are, after all, practically a vegetable.  A lot of help she's gonna be.

Oh, well.  We'll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

When reading doesn't happen...

Okay, yes.  I admit it.  Sometimes this bibliophile does not read

You may be thinking, "I only just met you via the blogosphere.  Is this news?"  Or you may be someone who know me thinking, "What???  How can this be?"

Well, it's true.  It is a little odd, but it happens.  I usually read anywhere I can fit in a sentence or two -- at the metro stop, between assignments at work, at lunch, before passing out from complete single-mom exhaustion, and so forth.  But sometimes, sometimes I'm just too FRIED.  My brain feels like the egg on that commericial in the '80s (anybody in their 30's or older know what I'm talking about?) only there are no drugs involved.

I promise.

Wait.  Is caffeine a drug?

Anyway, I was just about to reintroduce my feeble brain putty to a easy candy book of some kind, but all I had on me at the metro today was the slightly long (not really) fantastical tome Red Earth and Pouring Rain.

I read a page and a half before my train got there.  It was great.  So I'm back. 

Slowly. 

Wake up, brain.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lily

My third child is zen.  Most of the time.  Every once in a while, she'll hit me when she's mad.  She's also very tall.  Much taller than her twin.  She's a tiny zen giant who throws herself onto my lap with great zeal outside of her zen-ness.  I tell her to wrestle with her big brother who is closer to her size than her twin.  She's hilarious.  I love my tiny, funny, zen, curly-headed giant one-year-old.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Now Reading

I'm now reading Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra.  This could take a while.  Until then:

"i am parasher"

The Man of My Dreams


 While looking up other works by Curtis Sittenfeld to see how much of a dent I'd made in reading her literary contributions to the world, I came upon the title, This is Not Chick Lit to which Sittenfeld contributed the story Volunteers are Shining Stars, which I have not read yet.  However, that was one of the points I was planning to make about The Man of My Dreams:  This is not Chick Lit.  At least not really.  This is the third work of fiction I have read by Sittenfeld (I have also read Prep and American Wife), and it pretty much struck me as all the others had.  This is a good thing, actually.

To me, Chick Lit (besides reminding me of the tiny, square, plasticy gum as the term bounces around my brain) is the lovely Carribbean vacation of the mind in which one indulges in order to take a break from life; a cute story about fashionable girls, or soon-to-be fashionable girls, or quaint country girls who are smart and sassy and about whom we can smile and indulge ourselves with the notion, "Hey, that's me," while noticing how cute and fashionable we girls kinda really are.

My experiences with Curtis Sittenfeld are not like this.  She is an extremely talented writer, and I love the way she can turn a phrase.  She is also crude, explicit, and embarrassing (and not in a cute way), and I simply can't put her down.  Sittenfeld's protagonists are weak in the way you are weak but won't admit even to yourself.  On the flip side, they are also strong in ways that you -- if you do admit your true weaknesses -- may find you are as well.  If these women find happily ever after, it's in knowing that life is going to go on despite what they've been through -- usually what they've put themselves through.  Because when it comes right down to it, aren't most of the things that happen to us the things that we've done to ourselves? 

There is one way in which this could be considered Chick Lit if the connotation can be suspended momentarily.  I really have no idea how much a man could relate to some of the finer points of the characters' reasoning, not to say that a man couldn't.  Maybe if you read it one of her books and you happen to be one (a man, not a book), you could let me know how it went.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ten of My Favorite Authors (In No Particular Order)

1.  Elizabeth Kostova
2.  Charlotte Bronte
3.  Agatha Christie
4.  Curtis Sittenfeld
5.  Roald Dahl
6.  Edgar Allen Poe
7.  Ian Falconer
8.  Madeleine L'Engle
9.  Kate Chopin
10.  Susanna Clarke

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Great Language

Back in Philadelphia, Hannah's mother's wedding dress is stored in the attic in a long padded box, like a coffin.

-- Curtis Sittenfeld, The Man of My Dreams

When I Say I'm a Christian

I have been a lover of the work of Maya Angelou since junior high school when I first discovered her wonderful words.  Who among us was not moved sometime around the seventh grade by I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?  As I've grown up, I purposefully echo in my mind the words of Phenomenal Woman and find strength in Still I Rise whether I deserve to or not.  When I Say I'm a Christian, however, was new to me until today, and it put into words sentiment I'm far to inadequate as a writer to think of myself.  Don't stop me even if you've heard this one.  

When I Say I'm a Christian

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost, now I'm found and forgiven."
 
When I say, "I am a Christian," I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.
 
When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.
 
When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.
 
When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not claiming to be perfect.
My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.
 
When I say, "I am a Christian," I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.
 
When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not holier than thou.
I'm just a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow.

Maya Angelou

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society



Composed almost completely of correspondence through letters and telegrams, this book takes you back to very post-war England (I mean, nearly right after D-Day) when the country is in the midst of beginning to recover, dig through the rubble, and decide what to do with the various nightmares and scars it has suffered throughout the years.  Herein one captivating writer who had heretofore managed to lighten the hearts of her public during World War II is now at a loss for a subject.  Then she happens across the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

This is beautiful book.  Until now, I was not aware that such charm and horror could coexist.  The book's two authors, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, skillfully intertwine the life of Juliet Ashton, the quirky writer, with the lives of her friends both old and new.  When my book club chose this book, to me it seemed like a pleasant little read, but do not let the cover mislead you.

Among the letters describing the characters' enchanting daily lives along with their love for literature are descriptions of what was suffered by these same characters during the German Occupation of the Channel Islands as well as circumstances in concentration camps and the like.  Throughout the book, I came to be encouraged and inspired by the strength of many of these people to be able to retain their dignity and even kindness.  If it seems like my analysis is too sweet, it is only that I came away with a love for the characters, which by my account makes for a good book.

(I fear I may not make for a very interesting critic.  I hope, in time, to be able to read some truly terrible books during my literary explorations if only to provide a truly scathing and biting criticism that will be sure to make me seem much more intellectual.)

Until then, if you want to laugh and to be inspired and if you would like to realize that your problems are not terrible enough to make you the cynic you probably are -- in other words, a little perspective -- pick up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, and then let me know what you think.