Friday, July 30, 2010

Mom, The Musical

Okay, folks, I've had it.  My million dollar idea.  Mom, The Musical. 

So, Hubband is still out of town and the kids are making my nuts.  Today, I started singing everything.  Anything I needed to say, and quite a few things I didn't, I put to music and just belted it out like some suburban opera.  It was fun, and for once, the kids didn't talk back.  They just stared at me, bemused and mildly afraid.  I had clearly cracked, and they were trying to back away slowly, so as not to provoke an attack.

Then it hit me.  I would pay to see this.  Well, if the singer weren't me.

I'm imagining a housewife going about her day raising her kids and breaking into song at every turn.  But, the songs are familiar ones.  Standards, popular show tunes that we have all heard.  Except she changes the lyrics, to funny ones.  And her day is full of crazy over-the top kid/mom/house stuff.  Put to music.  I'm kind of at a disadvantage because I am not that familiar with show tunes, but I think this will give you an idea.

Getting up to the alarm.  "I Could have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady becomes,

I could have slept all night,
I could have slept all night,
And still have begged for more.

Sending her nine year old daughter to her room becomes "Tomorrow" from Annie.

You can come out, Tomorrow
Once you've cleaned your room
And, done your homework

The mom remembers back to the time when she first realized she only had so many hour in the day and she would have to choose between her pre-motherhood grooming and taking care of the kids..."Defying Gravity" from Wicked becomes "Defying Vanity"

I also picture a school drop off scenario, or maybe a PTA meeting, where the working moms and the stay-at-home moms are in different groups singing how the other group has it better.  Back and forth, sort of like "Summer Nights" from Grease.

And it all ends when the kids are tucked safely into bed.  She has some quiet time with her husband, and decides it is time to have another.

Or, maybe I am nuts.  But some day, when someone just as nuts as I am, who knows more about theses things than I do (and has some actual talent), takes this idea and wins a Tony Award, remember you heard it hear first.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Glimpse of Heaven

Do you think that God allows us to glimpse Heaven?  I don't mean give us a view of what Heaven is actually like.  But, do you think He allows us to feel, for a fleeting moment, a tiny fraction of the joy that must exist in that place.  I do.  Like today, at lunch, when I was blessed with a BLT, a diet coke, and the childless silence in which to enjoy it.  Pure bliss.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mad Men, or just Bad Boys

The new season of Mad Men started last night.  I haven't seen it yet, so don't tell me anything!  But, in honor of the momentous occasion, I present you this...

Don Draper.

Some how, he manages to be way sexier than Jon Hamm, the actor who plays him.

See what I mean.

Even though Don Draper is a cad.

This is his wife Betty.

Don has cheated on Betty.  Alot.

There was Midge, bohemian, marijuana smoking, artist who lived in a fifth floor walk-up in the village.

Don left Betty, and a house full of people celebrating his daughter's birthday, to go pick up a cake.  Instead, he found himself at Midge's place, begging her to run away with him.  She declined.

Then there was Rachel, a savvy business woman running her father's department store.

Their fling was quite intense until Don begged her to run away with him.  She declined.

Then there was Bobbie, the older, married woman, wise to Don and his ways, but willing to take the ride.

 When Don found out how wise to him she really was, he didn't want to run away with her.  In fact, he left her tied up.  Petty.

 Don, finally did run away, on business, where he found Joy.

 A young beautiful heiress wandering aimlessly from one sunny place to another with her young beautiful family.  She begged (ok, more like asked) him to run away with her, but he declined, and went home to the wife and kids, though not right away.

Then there was Suzanne, aka Miss Farrell, his daughter's second grade teacher.

He wanted to run away with her too, if only for the weekend, and she agreed, only to find herself, suitcase in hand, doing the walk of shame back to her apartment after Don left her waiting in his car for several hours after being ambushed by his wife.  Poor beautiful Miss Farrell needs a good husband.

In fact, the only woman Don has done right by (but never slept with) is Anna.  His sort of ex-wife.

She married Don Draper, only he was the real Don Draper, who went off to Korea and did not come home.  Our anit-hero Don came home with his dog tags, and Anna caught him at it.  Since Anna was a widow and Don wanted to keep pretending to be Don, he bought her a house and treated her really well.

Okay, maybe this is interesting only to me, but aren't the pictures delicious?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Fat Chick Goes to Chipotle

Okay, so I have just finished eating my second Chipotle burrito.  I mean my second ever, not my second today.  In either case, my stomach is so full, if I were to place myself in a horizontal position, I would probably lapse into a coma.  Or vomit.  So, here I sit, at my computer, sharing with you the culinary indulgence that is the Chipotle burrito.

First, a few definitions.

Chiptole: A smoke-dried jalapeƱo which tends to be brown and shriveled, used primarily in Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisine, such as Mexican-American and Tex-Mex.  Also, a national chain of restaurants serving obscenely large burritos.

Burrito: A Spanish word meaning, "small burro."  Also, a Mexican-American food consisting of a tortilla, wrapped around a pile a squishy goodness.

Tortilla: A Spanish word that means, "little pancake."  Also, a Mexican flat bread made from lard and white flour.  Lard and white flour.  Nothing bad has ever, and quite a few things decadent and delicious have, come from that.

Squishy Goodness:  Rice, beans (preferably pinto), sour cream, cheese, salsa, and guacamole.  Some definitions may tell you that guacamole is "optional."  Those definitions were written by communists.

Second, my story.

Until last Friday, I had never eaten at a Chipotle.  I do not know why.  They have been around for years.  There is one on a prominent, and frequented, intersection in my town.  Several people I know have spoken highly of it, but I did not listen.  Then, last Friday, finding myself, hungry, without my children, and parked in front of my local Chipotle, I thought, "Hey, I'll give this place a try."

My first Chipotle burrito was chicken, with guacamole.  I have to mention that I added guacamole, because it does not come standard.  (Communists?)  I had to pay extra.  Two dollars extra.  Making my first Chipotle burrito, my first eight dollar burrito.  But honestly, that was only about a dollar a pound.  I ate half of it, and took the rest home to my mother.

Once I shared the tale of my Chipotle initiation, I got feed back from several people, telling me ways to improve this experience.  As if that were even possible, I thought.  One friend (she knows who she is) suggested I try a vegetarian burrito.  For two reasons.  One, gauc is included (yeah!) and it has a better texture.  She finds that the meat ruins the consistency.  I was able to confirm that by "ruins the consistency" she means that it requires chewing, and therefore slows her down, because, honestly, without the chicken, I probably could have just swallowed that thing.

Today, less than a week later, (This is how addiction happens, isn't it?)  I found myself similarly situated.  I only had one kid with me, I was parked across the street (only two red lights and a u-turn away), and I was going to be hungry soon, I just knew it.  So, I went to Chipotle, for another hit burrito.

This time I ordered the vegetarian, guac included.  Yum!  But wait, what manner of green crunchiness which requires chewing is this?  Bell peppers?!  Blech!  I hate cooked bell peppers.  I like them raw, and I like all kinds of vegetables, even the green ones.  Really.  But not, Not, NOT in my burrito.  It if is green, and it is not cilantro (my second favorite herb) or the tender, creamy flesh of a ripe avocado, it does not, Not, NOT belong in my burrito.  A shudder just went through me.

So, I picked the peppers out and proceeded.  I'm not going to lie to you.  I missed the chicken.  But, all in all it was good burrito. 

Now, I have another friend (she know who she is) who would say that Chipotle is not real Mexican food.  But, it is real good food.  Good and heavy.  Oh, and now that it has settled a little, I think I can safely lapse into a coma sitting up.  Later.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


 Have you ever seen the movie, You've Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?  In it, they develop an e-mail flirtation in which, on a crisp September day, the Tom Hanks character writes to the Meg Ryan character "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

That line makes me tingle.  It just paints such a perfect picture for me, of a world I love.  The first snap in the air of early fall.  The post-Labor Day excitement.  I love the blank notebooks and big pink erasers.  The clear plastic protractor, the scissors with dull, round tips,  the compass with a point so sharp you could impale yourself and often did.  Blank paper and a full schedule.  Ahh.  The promise that is back-to-school.

Yesterday, was Jonah's first day of kindergarten.  But, it is only July.  That is because we live in a "year-round" school district.  At first, I was very disappointed.  And, I will admit, back-to-school in July is just not the same.  There is the raging heat, for one thing.  But it has not been all bad.

I worked up a pretty good level of excitement, as did my junior scholar.  And, the best part.  The local discount stores opened their back-to-school departments two weeks ago!  Last Friday afternoon, Target was packed with moms, and would-be students, and teachers, all visiting over the stacks of binders and book covers.  Reams of paper were stacked in big yellow card board bins.  There were new backpacks waiting for new owners.  Lunch boxes, and pencil boxes, and boxes of crayons.  All new, and fresh, gleaming with the potential of the new school year.  And, the air conditioning was up so high, it almost felt like fall.

So, I am adapting to year-round.

A few of you have asked me, what, exactly, do I mean by "year-round"?  Well, feast your eyes on this my pretties.

This is the district calendar.  Click to enlarge.  Seriously.  It is fascinating.

I have, honestly, spent hours gazing at this thing.  You see, before Jonah entered school, I had to request a "track" and I wanted to make sure I requested the right one.  Because once you are on a track, you are on it for life.  All subsequent students in your family will be on it, too.  It is a big decision.  Not one that could be taken lightly because we are not planning on living in this district forever.  Plans can go awry.  I had to think long term.

There are four tracks, A (green), B (yellow), C (red), and D (blue).  Like most districts, only the elementary  and middle schools follow the track/year-round system.  The high schools, for reasons of competitive sports, go back to a traditional schedule (purple).  Our district has also started using something called a "modified traditional" schedule (orange).   In fact, some of our elementary schools aren't year-round either.  Samuel and Jonah are in different schools this year, and on completely different schedules, though that does not usually happen until one of your kids moves on to high school.

They do this to save money.  They can squeeze more kids into the school this way.  If you look closely, you will see there are only three tracks going on any one day.  I am not quite sure about the classroom logistics, but they tell me it works.

We are B Track, the yellow one.  That's the lingo.  And we go "off track," not on summer vacation.

It's craziness, I know, but it is what I have to work with.  So, like I said above, I am adapting.  I don't see any point in crying on my bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.

Monday, July 19, 2010

First Day of School

Today was Jonah's first day of kindergarten.  Yes, in July.  Our school district is "year-round," but more on that later.

A few weeks ago, I took him to buy a back pack.  He picked a Mario Brothers one, of course.  And, as you can tell from the pictures, to him, it was the biggest thing about the day.

If he caught me trying to take a picture of him from any other angle, he would whip around, like this.

I didn't bring my camera to the school, because I did not want to make a scene.  I needn't have worried.  There were so many other parents (and grand-parents, and aunts and uncles, and second-cousins-once -removed) that any scene I may have made, would have gone unnoticed.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We walked to the school together, not too early, not too late.  Jonah talked most of the way.

"I think I am scared to start a new school.  I won't know any one.  I think I was scared when I started pre-school too, but I got over that.  I hope I get over it again, here.  Mom, we should pray to God that I get over being scared right away and that I get to know new people."

So, we prayed while we walked.  And we talked about the bigger kids, and the bigger classes, and the bathroom down the hall.  All things that were going to be different and, therefore, scary.

By the time we arrived, he seemed okay.  Maybe not thrilled, but resigned to change.  A pretty good attitude for a five year old, I thought.

Then we saw Brian, a kid from his pre-school.  Brian won't be in Jonah's class, but in the class next door.  They were both so relieved to see someone they knew, they hugged like old war buddies.

His teacher, Mrs. Whitfield, is sweet, blond, and pleasantly doughy, like a kindergarten teacher should be.  She introduced herself, and gave Jonah a name tag shaped like a crayon.  A good start.

Then we, the parents, were off.  Not allowed in the classroom on the first day.  We had to leave them on the pavement outside, to march into their little futures alone.  Jonah was cool with it.  I was hot, as it was already 85 degrees, and I still had to walk home.  So, we parted with out fan fare.

Besides, Jonah, like his mother, knows there is no point in wasting your drama in a crowd full of drama.  Parents crying and pressing their faces up against the classroom window.  Not for us, thank you.  We'll save our hysterics for September or October when things have calmed down a bit and there is less competition.   :)

Happy First Day of School Little Man!!!!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Day in the Country

We went to spend the day with Tante (my sister, Tricia) at her place in the country.  Life is different out there.

Where is the boy who use to be in these clothes?

Behind the corn, frolicking in the orchard sprinklers of course.

Country peek-a-boo, girl style.

Country peek-a-boo, boy style.

If you look closely, you can see Jonah hiding behind the loquat tree.

Where there is country and water, there is...


Garden Shed

Summer Portrait

View from the kitchen window

 Rear view, on the way home.

Thank you Tante and Uncle Jim!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Three Kids and a Bucket

Jonah got dirty playing outside, so Hubband told him to go wash up in the bucket of soapy water behind the house.

This was not quite what he meant.

It looked like so much fun that Cate and Sam tried to get in on it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Theme Thursday -- Help

Honestly, I think the Theme Thursday people can read my mind.  (Or, my blog.)  More than once they have picked a theme, the perfect post for which I have posted only the week before.  And this week they have done it again!

For this week's theme, HELP, I refer you to Sometimes, It Takes a Village, Idiot, from just last week -- a mere two posts ago.

And, please go HERE to read others' take on the theme.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Read the Label

Are you a label reader?  One of those people who reads the fine print on everything you buy?  Well, I am.  I don't read nutrition labels, as such.  I mean, I know I should care how much sodium is in my saltines or how much fat is in my Ben and Jerry's, but, alas, I do not.

I read labels because the are hysterical.  Really.  Come, let me show you.

This is a box of drinking straws.  The bendy kind.  The regular, straight kind are usually too long for small children to use well.  And they make it easier for grown ups to drink in bed.  You know, when you are just too lazy to sit up.  Bendy straws.  Or, as the packaging calls them,


But, don't stop there.  These are not just any "straws flexible."  These are Drink delights.  Ooooh.  Ahhhh.

To illustrate:  This is a drink...

But, this is a drink delight...

Again, with feeling.  Oooooh.  Ahhhh.

Moving on.

This is the label on the side of a take-and-bake pizza box.

If you can't read that, let me help you.  It says, "Inspired by the rich culinary traditions of Italy, our pizzas feature upscale ingredients and bold flavors.  Whole milk mozzarella and smoked provolone accent the meaty stars of this rustic, ready to bake pie: sausage, Canadian bacon, spicy pepperoni, and savory beef.  A blend of Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses finish this authentic regional dish."  

Are you kidding me?  I bought this "authentic regional dish" at Target right around the corner from the feminine hygiene products.

And last but not least...

Socks for the boys.

But these aren't just any socks.

These come in a "resealable bag."  So that they don't loose their new sock freshness, I guess.

What I want to know is who write this stuff and where do I apply?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sometimes, It Takes a Village, Idiot!

"God helps those who help themselves."  This is not scripture.  This is Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanac.  The stories in the Bible tend to prove the exact opposite.  God does not help those who help themselves, but rather, He helps those who humble themselves enough to call on Him for help.  At the same time, however, one must be open to the form in which the help arrives.

According a traditional African proverb, and a book by former First Lady and current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, "It takes a village to raise a child."  In the traditional context, this may be true.  In the context of Ms. Clinton, I suspect it takes a village to raise a child, and by a village, she means a government.  And if this can also further the increasingly popular idea that fathers are nothing more than a luxury or a redundancy, then great!

I, for one, have kept to the once traditional, and now so quaint it is comical, idea that it takes a mother and a father to raise a child.  I have had to re-think this a bit.

I have been going through quite a trying time, as I have written.  First, I was pregnant, then sick and voiceless, now going through the longest miscarriage in the history of woman-kind.  All while trying to be a mother to three young children and a wife to a husband who spends ten hours a day, seven days a week (literally!) in the library.  Forget being a housewife.  There is not enough energy left for the house.

A few weeks ago, at the very end of myself, I prayed for help.  And, I got it, in the form of my father-in-law, Grandpa Scott, swooping in and caring for us for a few days.  Since then, as some things have improved, others have gotten worse.  It seems that almost daily now, something knocks me back down onto my knees, where there is nothing to do but pray.  Until finally, FINALLY, I got it.

I can not do this by myself.

And, thanks to the Lord and His provision, I don't have to.

Let me be clear.  I have always had help.  My wonderful husband helps.  My self-less mother helps.  My generous sister helps.  I have often worn this help thin, because I thought they were all I had.

I was wrong.

In the last several weeks, my usual help has not been available.  I have had to call on, and been called by, women from the corners of my life, and now find myself wondering why they were relegated to the corners.

Patty.  Earth Mother Patty.  She told me that for the last two years, the Lord had put it on her heart to reach out to me and build a deeper friendship.  But, every time she talked to me, I gave the impression that I had my act together and was busy with other things.  Ha!  I suppose if you count wearing my robe until noon and eating chocolate for breakfast, in the bathroom no less, so I don't have to share with the children, having my act together, then yeah, I was busy.

In the last six weeks, Patty has come by my house for tea, bringing with her the most beautiful bouquet of peonies and honeysuckle.  Do you know the joy fresh flowers can bring to a room or a stressed out mom?  A few weeks later, she invited me to lunch.  And, after that, she and her sister Jane, met me at the park so that my kids could have a nice morning out, when I had no voice to call them and no strength to chase them.  She hugs me when she sees me.  It makes me a bit weepy just to think about it.  Yes, Patty.  I need a friend.

Abby, the best babysitter in the world, has come by on the most minimal of notice, even making a point of squeezing in three hours of babysitting between her real life activities on a Saturday afternoon.  And her mother, Brandi, always drops her off and picks her up.

My Aunt Jo took the kids and me in for several hours when Hubband needed to use the one computer in our small house to study.  Without kids around.

My friend Jennifer, who has a nursing baby and a potty training toddler, was more than hospitable when I called her at eight o'clock on a random Tuesday morning and asked her if I could be there in an hour, because I just could not stand to be cooped up at home one more second.  She even fed the kids and me lunch.

My sister-in-law Heather, also sainted, and with a servant's heart, has come by several times to babysit, in a pinch, for doctor's appointments.  And, she brought Starbucks.

My sister came by and watched my kids for a few hours, and then, deciding that I was iron deficient, took me out for a steak dinner.

Claudia, from church, called, out of the blue, during a rare lull in the day when I could talk, and on a day I needed someone to talk to. 

Rebecca came by with two of her four boys, to play with my two boys, while Catherine slept, and I went off to the doctor, yet again.  And she still found time to do my dishes.

Penny, from church, brought me a gift, a very feminine scented lotion, as comfort for my loss.

Janie gave me a free hour with a masseuse, which she herself had earned through a day-care barter system.

Gina, my pastor's wife, and Bethany, her fifteen-year-old daughter, came to watch the kids, again on a moment's notice, again while I went to the doctor.  They even came sooner than I needed them to, to care for me.  It was not a problem, Gina, mother of five, informed me.  She only had one kid at home that week (two are away at college, even though it is summer, and two more were away at camp) and her husband was out of town for two days.  They came back the next day too, because I needed someone.

What Gina didn't tell me was that she had been invited to join her husband for the short trip.  He would be working part of the day, but they could have had some time alone, a nice get-away.  She declined, convinced that she was not mean to go.  She felt the Lord was leading her to stay home for some reason.  I turned out the be that reason.

You must understand, I have never called Gina for anything in my life, big or small.  But, when I woke up last Monday morning, feeling like I was in labor, knowing Hubband could not stay with me, Gina's was the first name the Lord called to my mind.   And what she did for me those two days was huge. 

Then this week, as I was finally recovering, Hubband's mother came for a visit.  She helped with the house and the kids, while I caught up on a few neglected duties, like the laundry, the marketing, and my blog.

The service of all of these other women, was His provision, a gift from God, an answer to a sincere prayer from a place of brokenness.  There is no other explanation.  I am humbled by the awesomeness of this.
Yes, it takes a mother and a father to raise a child.  And, yes, it may also takes a village.  Though I don't think we need a village to raise our children for us, we sometimes need a village to be there for us, so that we can raise our children.  This is a distinction, not without a difference.  Ultimately though, it takes God to raise a child.  And I pray that I never forget it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More Recent Memories of the Fourth of July

We made s'mores for the Fourth of July this year.  Earlier in the week, when Samuel saw me bring home the ingredients, he was very eager to partake.  I had to put him off with, "No, no, honey.  Those are for the Fourth of July."  After that, he started calling the graham crackers "fourth" and the marshmallows "July."  And the s'mores?  Those he calls "Fourth of July," of course.  I think they may be called "Forth of July" in our house for years to come.

Jonah loved his backyard sparklers, and then sat atop the swing set, nestled in his daddy's lap to watch the various big time fire works shows in the area. 

A little girl's first sparkler.  He face was pure joy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Memories of the Fifth of July

Twenty-five years ago today, I got my driver's license.

I went down to the Department of Motor Vehicles with my mother, and a four month old baby named Nicholas, whom I was given charge of for the summer.  I know the driving examiner thought the baby was mine.  Perhaps he took pity on me, because he passed me, even though I almost backed up onto someone's lawn.

And, what was that mother thinking, honestly.  I had no business having full-time care of a newborn.  But he survived, as best as I recall.

My first solo trip was from my Aunt Jo's house to the Kentucky Fried Chicken to buy lunch for everyone. 

Later that day, I drove myself to stay the night with my friend Lorraine, at her brother's house, where she was  babysitting her niece and nephew.  

I saw my first Victoria's Secret catalog.  They were coming to her brother's house, addressed to the previous resident, but he was keeping them.  We giggled at this.  They seem so tame now.

We watched a documentary called Koyaanisqatsi.  It was different, and I am not sure I got the point.  I was sixteen.  Or, maybe I got the point and have since forgotten it.

We stayed up until the middle of the morning watching a seventeen-year-old  named Boris Becker win the semi-final round of Wimbledon.  I developed a mad crush on that big German.

This was a big day for me.

The photo is a still from Koyaanisqatsi.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Memories of the Fourth of July

Hot days, warm nights.
Family everywhere.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad.

Grandpa always made homemade ice cream, in two flavors: strawberry and vanilla.  

Or, Grandma always made ice cream in two flavors, and Grandpa plugged in the electrical powered ice cream maker and got all the credit.  

Depends who you believe.

The ice cream was good and best eaten that same day, so we did our best.

Swimming all day, into the night, lungs taking on a little bit of water, wet cousins.

Fireworks in the back yard, some legal, some not.

Long day, late night, finally dark, finally quiet, cool sheets, damp hair, sound sleep.

Thank you God, for all the blessings that come with being an American.

Happy Fourth of July!!!!!