Come play in my world for awhile!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm bucking the system

I started a post about my resolutions for the new year. And I just deleted it. I'm being bombarded by the media recommending ways that I can better myself. Now, I'm not saying there's no room for improvement here, but I like the way I am. And I like where I am. So this year I resolve to stop running in circles trying to be a better version of myself and just be KathyB!
If you care to join me, this year I will be:
  • Spending more time watching TV / movies.
  • Spending more time goofing on Facebook.
  • Reading more.
  • Quitting exercise that is drudgery, and doing things I like to do.
  • Procrastinating more (2009 is going to be interesting).
  • Eating out more.
  • Having more fun.
So, what are your resolutions? Anybody got any good ones that might make me re-think mine?!

Whatever your resolutions may be I wish you a healthy and happy 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Recent revelation

This is the second part of the rumination post from yesterday. I was honestly going to post them together, but the second tidbit really isn't a result of any ruminating on my part. And I loved that title. There's just something about the word ruminate.

The second tidbit is one that I've heard many times in my life and one that I really try to embrace: Never make assumptions; go with what you know. The problem is, this can be tricky to embody. Sometimes you think you know something when in fact all you really had was a glorified assumption. Or maybe that's really just misinformation. Or worse yet, ignorance. I'm sticking firmly to the assumption label, though, because I really was feeling wiser on my birthday and that made me feel peaceful. I need to stretch the peaceful times as long as humanly possible.

So you're probably wondering about my erroneous assumption? Well, I assumed (and remember, to assume is to make an ASS out of U and ME) that when a critter hibernates it stays in hibernation until spring. Hibernation, in the world according to me, is a function of time and not temperature. Unfortunately the world according to me is sadly limited to the confines of this little blog. My definition of hibernation was probably formed as much by watching Yogi the Bear cartoons as a child as it was by actual science. So I assumed that I would encounter no snakes on Sunday as I happily trekked through the woods on a sunny 72 degree day. I even joked with one of my children about the fact that the snakes were sleeping.

My oldest daughter had been lagging a few steps behind the three adults. The rest of the herd had taken a shortcut. I knew what her scream meant the minute it passed her lips. That scream crosses languages and cultures; it's the international sound for SNAKE!

Apparently, one of the three of us had stepped on the snake before Rachel saw it (let's not dwell on that, okay). Greenie was a bit off his game and allowed me to pick him up with a stick. I know, I know, just a tad out of character, but I needed to diffuse the situation so as not to impart my fear of snakes upon my daughter. Fortunately, Dad had his phone and was able to snap a quick picture. It's a Rough Green Snake -- non-venomous and very docile.

The good news is that the snake didn't make it's appearance until we were almost home. I kinda lost my enthusiasm for hiking after that. The bad news is we found the little guy about 100 yards from the house. Shudder.

Never assume you are safe from snakes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Recent ruminations

Yesterday was my 39th birthday and either I've been thinking and reflecting on life (ruminating) or I've magically morphed into a cow and I've been chewing cud (ruminating). I'm definitely going with the first choice. Now that I'm a year older and a year wiser I have the following tidbits to offer. Bear with me if it takes a quick second to get to the point:

Today I feel dehydrated, fatigued, and slightly nauseous. I'm irritable, lethargic, and sensitive to noise; especially the noise made by four overstimulated kids. According to my symptoms I have a hangover. The only flaw in this conclusion is that I wasn't out getting drunk last night; I was playing Wii. Quite the conundrum, isn't it?

And so it is, without further ado, that I offer my first tidbit. It is possible to be hungover without having actually consumed alcohol. In order for this to be plausible I've decided to create a separate class of hangover called a holiday hangover. Just as an alcohol hangover occurs as a result of overindulging in liquor, a holiday hangover results from, well, too much holiday. I have been baking and hosting and eating and wrapping and shopping and baking and staying up late playing Wii and baking and entertaining. Did I mention there's been a lot of baking going on around here?! And now I'm shot. And it's my birthday. And I am clearly hungover.

Yep, that's pretty much the way I'm feeling at the moment.

The good news is that the same things that are supposed to work for a regular hangover should also take care of a holiday hangover. A few websites that I perused recommended the following solutions. I've made a few edits to clarify:

  • Sleep. 'Ya think? Of course sleep will help. I'm taking it one step further and advising that you step away from the Wii. Maybe even go to bed before your guests. I know it seems obvious but I'm fairly certain this is how the whole cycle begins.
  • Replenish your body with fruit juice and water and avoid caffeinated beverages drink lots of caffeinated beverages. I'm fairly certain that Diet Coke is the nectar of the gods.
  • Eat mineral rich foods like pickles or canned sardines. In Poland, drinking pickle juice is a common remedy . Seriously. What would that accomplish? Instead I recommend that you avoid Christmas cookies at all costs. Other foods to avoid include, but are not limited to, sausage, red meat in general, cheese trays, and pretty much any type of appetizer.
  • Drink a Bloody Mary. While your blood is dealing with the new alcohol it's ignoring the old, and the juice and celery are full of vitamins . The whole "hair of the dog that bit you" thing has always sounded suspect to me, but then I'm not an authority on hangovers, either. In the case of the holiday hangover, though, a Bloody Mary might just do the trick. Or maybe a nice glass of Cabernet.
I know I said that I had tidbits (plural; as in more than one) to offer. You're going to have to wait until tomorrow for the next one. I'm older now. I'm moving a little slower...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Dear interpeeps,

I offer you this beautiful writing courtesy of bad mommy moments. If you have a chance, stop by her site and tell her what a wonderful and talented writer she is. When I grow up I'm going to try and write like she does :)

Merry Christmas!


a journey

She stared at the back of his head as he led the animal down the bumpy, uneven path. She really needed him to stop again, but was nervous about asking. They’d already lost so much time because of her.

The baby kicked again. She grabbed her stomach and shifted slightly. Everything hurt. Upper back, lower back, head, legs, stomach, bladder. She wasn’t going to think about that, though.

Other than the rhythmic clopping of the animal, it was quiet. A peaceful quiet. Neither of them had much to say. They didn’t really know each other very well yet. Even still, she pondered his behavior.

She wondered how he could look at her as calmly as he did. Her greatest hope had been that he wouldn’t allow the people to stone her. She prayed that he’d divorce her quietly. That he was really as righteous as her family said.

While she waited at her cousin’s house for the news, she wept over his imagined reaction. His shock. His anger. His refusal. When her parents finally sent word, she was astonished to learn that she was still engaged.

She wasn’t sure that she deserved such a man.

She was afraid that at any moment she’d do something, or say something and he’d change his mind and send her away. And an unprotected woman with a baby in a foreign land would be in great danger. Which made it all the more hard to tell him that she needed to stop again. So she didn’t.

The cramping increased. The pains shot up her back. She shifted again. Stiffness seared through her body. She fisted her hands and pressed them into her sides. Arched her back.

He sensed her movement and stopped the donkey. He turned, read her eyes and reached out his arms to her. Offered his hands and helped her down again.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He shook his head and smiled. He had yet to accept an apology. There was no one on the road other than them, but he shielded her anyway as she relieved herself.

They were on the fringes of a large group when they left Nazareth, but her constant need to stop soon left them behind everyone. And then they were alone. She was glad. She preferred it that way. She’d decided months ago that she wouldn’t care what everyone thought. Or said. Or how they looked at her. But when she was alone, sadness often overwhelmed her.

And she hadn’t counted on the way it would hurt to see how they treated him.

Because of her.

As if he’d done something wrong.

But all he’d done was protect her. Shouldered her shame. Accepted who she was and her situation. Accepted what that meant for his life. The stares, the whispers, the refusal of business.

He’d saved her life.

He was a good, good man.

But still, she feared what would happen when the baby was born. How he’d feel when he looked into the face of a child each day that wasn’t his. How good could one man be? What if it was too much? What if he changed his mind?

She was glad that they were leaving Nazareth. Relieved to get away, even if just for a little while. Part of her heart missed her family, but even they weren’t the same. They wanted to believe her. Some of them did. But it was an impossible story. And she knew that.

She never expected that it would be easy.

She just had no idea how hard it would be. The looks in they eyes of everyone in her small town. The stories. The voices of the girls who used to be her friends. She had no idea how lonely it could be as the sole owner of the absolute truth.

With the exception of her cousin, the only other person who seemed to fully comprehend and believe her truth was the man leading the donkey.

And even she didn’t understand his resolve.

He seemed hopeful that things would be different in Bethlehem. He’d told her parents that they’d remain there with his relatives for a while. Maybe return in a few years. She wanted to believe him, but she had little hope. The town was small, only about 300 people. And while many were relations of his, the large crowd that they’d traveled with would arrive before them. And she was pretty sure the “shame” of her situation would make it to Bethlehem before they did.

But she kept it to herself. Maybe she was wrong.

The pains started just after they were turned away from the second relative. She’d grown up learning firsthand the cultural obligation of hosting relatives. No one was to be turned away. She’d never seen her family refuse someone in need.

But there were so many relatives in town for the enrollment that there simply wasn’t one guest room.

For her. She tried not to be bitter. But she couldn’t help but think that if it were any other married woman about to give birth sitting on the back of a donkey she would be rushed inside. She’d be crowded by every woman in the house, ushered to a spot, made comfortable and assisted.

The pain hit again. It was excruciating.

She was glad it was night. She turned her face so he couldn’t see her expression. She wasn’t going to upset him. She breathed deeply. Her sides squeezed in; fire shot up her back. She forced back the sobs.

When it passed, she looked up as he was turned away from yet another relative. They were staring at her. They shrugged and pointed her husband towards a stable.

He arched his back, insulted, and turned away from them.

So, it would be no different here. She wept for her husband. What his life turned into. She wept for her child, unable to imagine what his life would be, starting out with the “shame” of his mother. And she wept for herself.

She cried out to her God.

A warm hand clasped her fingers, tangled in the donkey’s mane. She looked up.

He smeared the tears across her cheek. He leaned his forehead against hers. He promised her that he’d find a place. That there would be someone among his relatives who would take them in. That it wasn’t her, it wasn’t their circumstance, it was the enrollment. But he couldn’t look at her as he said it.

At that moment, she felt how great his pain was. He wasn’t used to being refused by family. He never dreamed that he wouldn’t be able to meet the basic needs of his wife. He wanted so much to provide comfort, yet he was helpless.

And that comforted her.

She pointed to the stable and asked him for it. Something close, quiet, and away from all of the people. He was appalled. It was unsanitary. It was beneath them. Their child would not be born where animals defecated.

She squeezed his warm, rough hand. For a moment the pain ceased. And she saw him. She saw his heart.

And she was no longer afraid.

She knew he wouldn’t change his mind. He wouldn’t send her away.

And at that moment it didn’t matter where the baby was born. Or that their first experience together would be something he shouldn’t have been a part of. She didn’t care.

Her God had already provided more than she needed.

She assured him that the stable was perfect.

And there wasn’t time, anyway.

He nodded his head and grabbed a bag of rags and blankets from the side of the donkey.

He lifted her up and carried her towards the low braying of animals.

She leaned her head against his and let the pains consume her.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Love hurts

Yesterday we went to mass at the Duke University Chapel. I'm going to showcase the fact that I'm not feeling particularly articulate at the moment and just say, "Wow!" The architecture, the North Carolina Boys Choir, the acoustics, the stained glass, the pipe organs that make your chest vibrate with the strength of their music. Wow.

I'm a huge fan of baroque architecture. When I noticed a posting in the church bulletin that there would be a docent available after mass to lead a tour I was thrilled. When the tour began my children's faces were bright with expectation and curiosity. After about 15 minutes I could tell by their glazed eyes and vacant stares that they were not engaged in the docent's description of the symbolism of each enormous panel of stained glass. I surmised by their fidgeting that they didn't care how many pipes each of the four individual organs contained. And yet they were respectful and quiet and polite for the better part of almost three hours. It was a proud mommy moment. Restraint and respect are elusive qualities in children, and yesterday we had them in spades. Cross your fingers for tomorrow.

We were nearly through the tour of the chapel when Emily whispered in my ear, "Mommy do they have weddings here?" I told her that they certainly did. She was quiet for a minute and then asked if you had to be in love to get married. I of course told her, "Absolutely!" She was quiet again briefly and then proceeded to tell me she wasn't going to be falling in love. Surprised, I inquired about this new development and she told me, "Well, to fall in love I think you have to get shot with an arrow or something. It usually gets you right in the rump. And even though the rest of it isn't supposed to hurt that much I really don't want to get shot with that arrow."

Well, that's a relief! I'll be sure to remind her of that when she's 16.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How do you measure success?

Today was a busy day, but that's really nothing new. It seems I start almost every post that way of late. I spoke with someone who asked an off-hand question, "Was your day a success?" They weren't trying to be profound, but it got me thinking. Does accomplishment of all items on your to-do list constitute success? What if you accomplished nothing but you had fun? What if you did lots, but nothing turned out quite right? Was it technically a success?

Today I did the following:

  • Spent a ton of time at the barn with Rachel. Rach had a fantastic ride and made some significant progress on her riding course. I, on the other hand, spent a lot of time watching Rachel. Now, don't get me wrong -- I really enjoy watching Rachel, but it takes 4 hours from doorstep to doorstep. That's a lot of doing nothing. But if Rachel was successful does that mean that I, as the mom was successful? I'm going with yes on this one.

  • Showered when I got home from the barn to get the horsey smell off of me and then wasted a bunch of time doing a Sudoku puzzle. I'm pretty sure that's not a success of any sort. I didn't even solve the puzzle. But I did have fun. But does that qualify as successful? I'm not sure. I wasted time and I didn't complete the puzzle, but I'm not sure how to factor enjoyment into the equation. Let's go with moderately successful.

  • Decorated a gingerbread house with three of my daughters. This was supposed to be fun, but the constant jockeying for position between my daughters got really old really fast. The girls enjoyed themselves. My heart wasn't in it. And on top of that we made the saddest little gingerbread house in the world. I consider myself to be a fairly skilled cake decorator. This should have been a piece of cake (pun intended). All I can say is thank God I didn't pursue a career in engineering. I guess since the kids enjoyed it and I tolerated it we'll go with successful on this one.

  • Helped with dinner preparations (although really not much) and then I helped eat the dinner. Dinner was good, so I guess that was a success. Afterwards I immediately started plotting a way to get to bed by 8:30. I succeeded in changing into my pajamas so I guess that was a successful start?

  • Watched my sister try to make a plaster of paris ornament of some sort with the kids. It was a hoot watching her try to figure it out, and I think she and the kids had fun. I'd have to call it unsuccessful, though, as this is how it turned ended.

  • Went for a walk on the golf course. Remember I mentioned that I hopped into my pajamas right after dinner in the hope of sneaking off to bed early? Well, my husband decided to rally our family and guests for an evening walk. I did not want to participate. I was on a mission to get to bed, and instead found myself walking the neighborhood and golf course in my pj's. I put a sweatshirt on over top and it's really dark here with no street lights. I'm sure no one saw me.... Mid-way through the walk it started to rain and I ended up running through the golf course instead of walking on the cart path to get home. I returned from the walk damp and wide awake. No debate here, this was not a success.
So as I tally up the votes I had more successes than non-successes and mostly I had fun. I think that qualifies as a successful day? How I turned a simple question into a complete analysis of the minutiae of my life is beyond me.

And please, don't anyone ever ask me that question again.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What's your size?

My dear friends,

I want to get you a little something for the Holidays. Unfortunately, it is t-5 days until Christmas. I'm still not finished with my shopping. I have a house bursting with guests. Again. I am strung out from parade, and parties, and Girl Scout meetings, and birthdays, and the fact that my holiday baking has yet to commence. So, in a fit of desperation fueled by my strong desire not to step foot in a mall again until 2009 I have decided that I will make you a gift instead. And I will only use materials from around the house. Please let me know your shoe size as soon as possible as I am making slippers. I'm sure you'll agree that this is a splendid idea. I thought you might even want to make some for your own friends so that you too can slow down and enjoy this wonderful time of year, so I’ve included the instructions as well as a picture of the finished product:


  • 4 maxi pads
  • Tape or glue
  • Miscellaneous decorative pieces such as silk flowers.


  • Lay two maxi pads out flat. This is the "foot" part of the slipper.
  • Wrap the remaining two maxi pads around the tops of the "foot" area to form the "toe."
  • Tape or glue each side of the toe pieces to the bottom of the foot part.
  • Decorate the tops with whatever you like!

These slippers are the perfect gift! Their features are numerous but let me share the high points:

  • They are soft and hygienic
  • They have built-in non-slip strips on the soles
  • They have an ingenious deodorant feature that keeps feet smelling fresh
  • But best of all, no more bending bending over to mop up spills
I am eagerly awaiting your reply. It’s crucial that I get the right size for each one of you so that I can get your gift mailed out quickly.

Warmest holiday wishes,


Note: The concept and photo do not belong to me. I received them in a forwarded email with no author or photographer noted. I tweaked the content to suit my needs. Feel free to let me know if they're your ideas so I can give you credit :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

She nailed it!

You really have to watch this YouTube video. It's called, "The Mom Song" and this ridiculously brilliant woman has adapted it to the William Tell Overture.

In the mornings I like to wander into the girls' bedrooms singing, "I'm alive, alert, awake, enthusiastic..." If you're not familiar with that morning melody, it's an borderline obnoxious little ditty that I learned on my last camp out. I swear the kids scamper out of bed some mornings just so that they won't have to listen to me sing it.

Rachel was watching the video with me while simultaneously watching me out of the corner of her eye. When it was over she rolled her eyes and said, "You thought that was hilarious, didn't you." It was really more of an accusation than a question. I grinned at her with my most mischievous mommy smile. Rachel rolled her eyes again and turned to leave. As she made her departure I could hear her mutter, "Great. I wonder how long it'll take before she figures out how to blast us out of bed with that in the morning."

Is it wrong that I secretly love to pester them? Eh, who cares. Score one for the mommies! I may be losing the battles, but I'm winning the war....

Monday, December 15, 2008

9 things I never wanted to know about felt

Saturday my Daisy Girl Scout troop marched in the Wake Forest Christmas parade. I didn't want my girls to just march and wave, so I decided on a mini-float for "Cookie" (our troop mascot), a large banner with our troop number and name, big signs for the girls to carry, and bags of candy to distribute to the crowd. I am not a crafty person. I have good ideas but execution of anything artsy is not my forte. And I can't sew. In spite of my limitations I felt good about what we had decided to do.

We were supposed to get these things done as a troop a week beforehand. Instead I found myself at 10:00 Friday night trying to get everything ready -- 12 hours before I needed to be lined up with my troop of merry first graders at the parade.

It was quite an educational experience. In fact I learned a lot about felt fabric. Here are the high low points:

1) You can't iron felt. Trust me on this. If you google this question they will tell you the answer is yes. They'll say, "Go ahead! Just use the polyester setting." Don't believe them. They are evil people. The iron will singe the stupid felt.

2) You can't spray felt with water and hang it with the expectation that the wrinkles will magically be gone when the felt dries. All you get is wet felt. And then you have to wait for it to dry. The same evil elves who thought that ironing would work suggested this as an alternative. Why I tried the second recommendation after the first was such an utter failure is beyond my comprehension.

3) You may consider putting your felt in the dryer to facilitate the drying process since time is of the essence. But what if the dryer causes bad things to happen to the felt like the iron did?!

4) You can't use Downy Wrinkle Releaser to get rid of the wrinkles either. Apparently once you've wrinkled felt you're screwed.

5) You should disregard fabric glue instructions when using felt. Instructions say it'll take 2-3 hours to set. Give yourself 24 hours.

6) You should put something underneath your felt project when using your hardwood floor as a work surface. Otherwise the glue will soak through the felt and your project will either a) be glued to the floor, or b) leave glue blobs that may or may not remove the finish when I go to clean them up.

7) You'll get excited when you discover that hot glue holds really well. And you'll be sad when you notice that the heat from the glue (apparently heat is a huge problem when you are working with felt) alters the texture of the felt.

8) You'll be positively giddy when you realize that you can just staple your stuff directly onto the felt. You might even do a little happy dance.

9) You'll notice the silvery sparkle of the 10,236 staples that you used to "hem" the top and bottom of the banner, but rationalize that it's a Christmas parade. Tinsel is sparkly. The staples are an homage to tinsel and all the other sparkliness that is Christmas. Right?

You can't see my finished products, but don't we look cute? I'll have to do a second post about what happened when we were waiting for the parade to start....

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Because I am the most fabulous, organized, and on-the-ball mother in the world I can put on a facade of serene calm even when I am gritting my teeth so hard I am afraid they will crumble inside my mouth, I had a pregnant woman approach me when I was out with my four kids at Target the other day. She was round and glowing and beautiful in the way that women are when the creation of new life is imminent. You know, that time when you think you have all the answers. The time when you know that your child will sleep through the night, eat all their veggies, and eventually cure cancer. The time before reality sets in.

The woman approached me and complimented me on my beautiful daughters and asked me, "What's the secret?" Now that made me pause.

First off - did she not just see me teeter on the edge of sanity as I threatened one of my daughters with a lifetime spent in her room? The daughter in question had been stepping on the heels of her sister after being told to stop stepping on her sister's heels twice already. Disciplining children in public when you are really irritated, without looking like a lunatic is an art form.

Followed by - there's a secret?! Crap. If someone would have told me the secret, like, 10 years ago my life would've been seriously improved.

And finally - if there is a secret, what on earth would make you think that I know it? I'm standing in Target clawing to hold on to my sanity with a mouth full of crumbled teeth courtesy of all the tooth grinding. Clearly I am not the keeper of "the secret."

I smiled benignly, double-checked to be sure that my facade was cemented firmly in place and scanned the children's faces. I wanted them to be very clear, courtesy of my stern mommy eyes, that this was not the time for monkey business. I then told that sweet, innocent woman that she should love her child with all of her heart, every single day and always try her hardest to be the best mommy she can be. Even when she's not in the mood. I told her that everything else would fall into place. She seemed pleased with the response and went blissfully on her way.

But I neglected to elaborate. You see, everything does fall into place. But sometimes when it falls it makes a very loud crash and the earth trembles a bit.

Making things complicated

The other day I was teaching economics, and we were working towards differentiating gross profit from net profit. I was using a website called the lemonade stand game to illustrate the correlation between quality and price, and how those two factors influence profit. The kids had been experimenting with these variables to see how they impact long term sales at their virtual lemonade stands. They caught on quickly, and tried to sell water with a hint of lemon for $1.00 so that they could get rich quick. Such greedy little capitalists! Their scheme worked the first day, but by the end of the week they were almost bankrupt.

The extension of this activity was to talk about gross profit as opposed to net profit. I asked the kids for their theories without giving them any inkling as to what the terms actually meant. One little girl's hand immediately shot into the air. I asked her for her definitions, and this is what she said:

"Gross profit is the money that the people paid who bought that bad lemonade with no lemons in it. Net profit is money from the people who got the good lemonade and liked it."

I then lost all control of the discussion as the kids had a brief yet spirited debate on the parameters for defining which lemonade was "gross" and which lemonade was "net." It's amazing how fast you can lose control of a discussion amongst children. And this is exactly why I have such love for kids. There's no double meaning. Life is black and white with no shades of gray. Actions are right or wrong. If something is gross, well, it's GROSS.

I wish I had my camera with me so that you could see the puzzled looks on their faces when I finally wrestled myself back into control of the conversation and explained the real definition. They were completely silent. That in and of itself is noteworthy. I think kids are like lions on the prowl. They can smell weakness in adults, and they pounce on it. I am not a trained teacher - just an enthusiastic volunteer - and I am constantly getting pounced on.

As they filed out of the room at the end of the segment one little girl was stage whispering to her friend, "Who makes this stuff up anyway? I mean, who calls something gross and then says that it doesn't mean gross. Why didn't they just make a new word for it. It's no wonder we have to go to school for, like, fifty years. I think they make it confusing on purpose."

This kid is in for a real treat when she gets to story problems. You know, the ones that start out:

Sam, Sarah, and Sally all have birthdays coming up. 10 years ago Sam was twice as old as Sally. Sarah's age is the same as Sally's divided by two, plus three. All three of the ages together equals 89. Solve for Sally's age. (This is not a real problem. DON'T try to solve it.)

'Cuz she'll know that you could just ask Sally and save yourself some grief.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shopping, shopping, shopping, and more shopping

When you're lobbed a gentle pitch right over home plate you just have to whack it....

I spent the entire day shopping. Start to finish. I thought about a few blog ideas but frankly, I'm pooped. I finished helping the kids with homework and sat down at my computer to check email even though I should be making dinner. I can't cook when I am not hungry, and for some completely inexplicable reason I'm not. Go figure. Dinner is overrated anyway, right? I'm sure my family will be thrilled when I tell them. Anyway, I opened up an email and found the following:

Dashing through the mall...
On a mid December day,
Through the $tores I go
Charging all the way...

Ching ... Ching ... Ching ...

Bell$ on register$ ring
Making checkbook$ light,
Oh, what fun it is to buy up
Everything in $ight!

Oh, Ching ... Ching ... Ching
Ching ... Ching ... Ching...

I wish I could take credit for that little Jingle Bells knock-off. And if you wrote it let me know. The email didn't credit an author.

It's the perfect summary of my day. The good news is that I think I am pretty much finished. I love wrapping up (pun intended!) the Christmas shopping. Once you know you're finished it's as though the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders.

I feel 10 lbs. lighter already!
And if you want a good chuckle go on over to Lost in Suburban Bliss.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day

Yesterday I got out of bed early so I'd have time to lounge around and leisurely read the newspaper before church. I didn't quite get up early enough, though. It was time to get ready, and I wasn't even close to finished perusing the ads. I pushed it to the last possible moment. I cut corners on the make-up, I rushed into the closet and threw on an outfit that, in retrospect, Iwouldn't have normally picked, and I skipped breakfast.

Now, skipping breakfast is pretty much the norm for me. I essentially live in a state of semi-starvation to keep from gaining weight as I roar towards middle age. And, yes, I've heard that ridiculousness about eating breakfast boosting metabolism and helping with weight losss... blah, blah, blah... I'm not listening. I'm not getting any fatter. Mission accomplished. End of discussion.

By the time we get to church I am crazy hungry. Usually when I get hungry like this it gnaws at me for a few minutes and then the hunger dissipates, or even goes away entirely. And sometimes it doesn't. Today was one of those days.

After I complained about being hungry en route to church my daughter Hannah suggested that I eat a mint to curb my hunger. Oh boy, here we go again with the karma. Just last week we were at the mall with our out-of-town guests. Everyone was on different schedules, and Hannah was starving. I told her that I sometimes eat a mint when I am hungry and can't take time to eat right away. I told her that the mint taste sort of kills your appetite for a short time. I fed her, like, 50 mints to try and kill the hunger long enough to get everyone home for a meal. She didn't think it worked. I dug to the bottom of my purse (and it was a long dig. There is a lot of crap in my purse) and popped a mint into my mouth. It didn't help one single bit.

At this point we were solidly in the middle of the church service and I kept getting hungrier and hungrier. My tummy was starting to rumble, and believe me when I say that my stomach can rumble like a caged lion. I poked my husband and apprised him of my situation. He smiled a little and shook his head. What can you say to someone who intentionally deprives themselves of food and then has a growling stomach? I'm lucky I didn't get a full eye roll.

So my stomach starts rumbling but is gracious enough to time the grumbles so that they coincide with singing or responsorial parts of the service. Then the pastor said, "Let us pray," and the church fell deafeningly silent. You could have heard a pin drop in that church. And of course my stomach roared. Not grumbled -- ROARED. I wiggled in my seat to try and make some creaking to cover the roaring, but it didn't work. It was loud. I was embarrassed. People noticed. I didn't even have any of the kids with me so that I could pretend it was them.

Thankfully the silence was brief. The pastor led us toward communion and background noise was created to mask a few follow-up grumblings. We headed up to receive communion and all I could think about was food. Pat jokingly whispered that I was going to get some bread, and told me to hang on. Very funny. Glad I married a comedian.

I approached the deacon who offered me communion and as I reached for the bread I don't know what happened but instead of taking one, I got two. What? Am I seriously so hungry that I just subconsciously swiped a second piece of communion bread?! I swear I did not intend to take two. I froze for a second and briefly contemplated putting one back. I could see Pat grinning from ear-to-ear out of the corner of my eye as I shoved the bread into my mouth.

And then it really got bad. I'm in church, I'm starving, I've not been paying attention to the sermon as I'm too busy obsessing about food, and now I'm loading up on communion bread in some sort of Freudian attempt to feed myself. The situation is so stupid and so completely of my own creation that it becomes funny. I have the overwhelming desire to burst into laughter. And not little chuckles. We're talking giant guffaws. You know, the type of laughter that surfaces at completely inappropriate times and is even funnier because of the fact that it shouldn't be funny at all. By the time I got back to my seat I could barely contain myself. I could see Pat, and he was laughing too. I could feel my face turning red from the effort of stifling the laughter, and I had to keep my head turned away from Pat or I would have been unable to keep from bursting into peals of laughter.

By the time I got home the hunger had gone. I made the kids lunch, had a few spoonfulls of their mac-n-cheese and a handful of grapes, and then ate 47 enchiladas for dinner at the new Mexican restaurant.

It makes me hungry again just thinking about it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I guess there's hope for me yet

By Associated Press

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — A dog weighing more than 120 pounds survived being frozen to a sidewalk overnight, probably because he was insulated by layers of fat, authorities said....

Let's not talk about the fact that the dog was left outside in the first place. Because that's just sad. Instead, let's focus on the silver lining. There is always a silver lining.

Ever since moving to North Carolina I have been battling the cold. This is where the brilliance of the dog story comes into play. Tomorrow when my husband comes to pull little Miss Lazy-Bones away from the computer to go exercise I can respectfully decline because I must save, not burn the 19,486 calories I consumed over Thanksgiving just in case I ever get locked out of the house (again).

It's a shame I'm so tired today. Otherwise I'd tell you about the time I locked myself out of our house, in the middle of the afternoon, in my pajamas, while my husband was traveling in another time zone, in a state where I knew no one... sigh. It's a pretty good story. I promise I'll tell you later. But in the meantime it's good to know that if it happens again at least I won't die.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How to drive yourself crazy in 5 easy steps

1. Agree to every volunteer request that comes your way. This is the first and most critical step. If you don't accomplish this step all subsequent steps will yield only minor annoyance, and you will not be able to successfully drive yourself crazy. Please note that in order to generate maximum stress it is advisable to volunteer for activities that are cyclical. Even though cyclical activities are supposed to stick to a prescribed schedule the likelihood that the schedule will change is enormous. This affords plenty of opportunity for double-booking yourself, thus generating more stress.

2. Get the kids ready for the day without getting yourself ready first. This is a sure-fire guarantee that circumstances will demand that you converse with friends, delivery drivers, neighbors and teachers while you are still in your pajamas and with your hair in disarray. You earn bonus points for this step because you generate stress and embarrassment simultaneously.

3. Host your family for a major holiday. This ensures that you will have unequivocally lost track of your everyday life by the time everyone departs. This is particularly useful as it allows you to do things like: 1) Discover that you are out of juice, sandwich fixings, and fresh fruit for the kids' lunches 15 minutes before they need to be out the door, or 2) Forget what day of the week it is, drive to school, drop off kids, return home, sit down at computer, do a double-take when you notice the date and realize you are supposed to be at the school teaching small group writing.

4. Start baking Christmas cookies while you have Thanksgiving wreaths still hanging in the window. And turkeys on the window sills. This will inspire you to get crackin' on the cookies so that you can get rid of the last vestiges of Thanksgiving and dig out a festive platter for the cookies. And then you'll be motivated to multi-task so that you can get through your epic list of things to do, so you'll chat on the phone with your neighbor as you prepare the cookies. While talking on the phone try to remove a tray of 48 cookies that have been cooling in the freezer in preparation for their dip in white chocolate. Lose control of the phone that is pressed tightly between your shoulder and your ear and drop the entire tray of cookies all over the garage floor. Note to self: Next time drop the phone and save the cookies. Dessert always trumps electronics.

5. Refuse to actively resolve your self-inflicted chaos and instead, sit down and blog about it.

Don't they look yummy?! Actually, it really isn't a great shot of the cookies (fudgy, chocolate cookie dipped in white chocolate), but I love the juxtaposition of the Christmas cookies and the Thanksgiving decorations -- so just pretend the cookies look fabulous. 'Cuz they certainly taste good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Eh, who am I kidding? I don't really do wordless. Maybe I should change the title of the post to "Almost Wordless Wednesday." But that doesn't have the nice ring of alliteration so I guess you'll just have to work with me.
Today I received an unexpected gift at the school from a fellow mommy. It was particularly appropriate given that I was so overbooked that I spent the entire day racing around like a chicken with it's head cut off and scrambling to prepare for all of the volunteer "stuff" that I've gotten myself sucked into. You'll likely hear about that in tomorrow's post.
Wow. Foreshadowing and alliteration all in one post. I am good.

I'm not addicted. It's not as though I can't control my volunteer committments. I can stop any time I want.
Tucked inside are a pair of longer bigger socks. Leigh clearly understands that size matters.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Making a mountain out of a mole hill

"Look up at the sky Monday night to see a bright cosmic frown. The planets Jupiter and Venus will briefly align to form (nearly upside down) two eyes and a frowning mouth in the southwest.

In what's called a planetary conjunction, the two planets —the brightest in the night sky — will appear extremely close, separated by only the width of a finger held at arm's length. They won't be this close together and well-placed for evening viewing again until May 2013.
In fact, some astronomers think a similar alignment of the planets on June 17 in the year 2 BC is behind biblical accounts of the Star of Bethlehem present during Christ's birth. The bright planets would have appeared so close together they could have been taken as a single shining star.... Source

I read about this event on Sunday and it really piqued my interest; so much so that I mentioned it to the kids. We talked about it at length. We imagined how it might look. We made a mental note to go outside around 5:30 so that we could be certain to see it. I want them to be excited about these things because, frankly, they are fascinating.

Yesterday as we drove home from gymnastics at around 5:10 we could see the moon out the window, and I started excitedly refreshing the kids' memory and pointing out the planets and the upside down frown. I enthusiastically called home to alert the herd (we still have 7 visitors from Thanksgiving -- don't worry it's a good thing!) to the exciting news.

I had four kids in the car with me and we excitedly pulled into a clearing to observe the events unfold. I had done a fantastic job of building up enthusiasm for this unique event, and they tumbled happily out of the car and into the frigid early evening air. They looked at me with expectant faces, and a question in their eyes, "Now what?"

Somewhere along the drive home while I was generating all of this excitement I neglected to mention that the planets weren't going to do anything. The fact that they were there -- in that position -- was the object of my intrigue. I measured the distance between Jupiter and Venus with my finger hoping that maybe their position would shift. Hoping that I could show them something that would justify the build-up.

I could really have used a couple flashing stars or multi-colored comets at this point. We watched for about a minute because everyone was freezing (we came from gymnastics, and no one was dressed appropriately for the weather -- I'm beginning to see a trend here in this blog), and then piled back into the car. The kids indulged me and sat with the heater blasting, singing along to the Miley Cyrus CD while I gazed at the stars. I have to give them credit for being good sports. As we finished the drive home Hannah said, with as much feigned enthusiasm as an eight-year-old can muster, "Thanks for stopping to show us that, Mom. It was really amazing."

I guess the manners coaching that we constantly cram down their throats might be starting to stick (you thank someone when they've tried to do something nice for you even if you didn't like or enjoy it -- it's the thought that counts). Imparting a love for astronomy might need a little more time.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Size does matter

Lots of people will try to convince you otherwise, but size really does matter. It's not politically correct to talk about the subject, but let's go there. Just for a minute. Do you want the ginormous slice of delectable pie or the teeny one. How about the 2 carat, flawless engagement ring versus the one plucked from a Cracker Jack box. A thick , cozy comforter on a frigid winter's night or a thin cotton throw. Sure you'd be thrilled to have any of them. Something is better than nothing, right? Of course. But which would you rather have?

This weekend we had a house full of guests for Thanksgiving. It's hard to get a large group of people moving let alone motivated to do the same things. Football, apparently, is the common denominator. Sigh. We had tickets to the Miami at NC State game and, as is typical for me, the weather was moderately uncooperative. I'm sure you're wondering what on earth any of this has to do with size. Well, stay with me.

The weather forecast for the game was not great. Cold. Windy. Light breeze. RAIN. Brrr. I tried to dress appropriately for the weather. I had on a turtleneck, down vest, winter coat, long underwear, jeans, shoes and socks and one mitten. I may or may not go back to explain the one mitten thing. When I arrived at the game I felt good about my clothing choices. I thought I'd be comfy -- as long as it didn't rain.
I thought wrong. At the end of the first quarter the chill was starting to seep through my layers. I commented on this to my sister-in-law who appeared to be snug and warm. She lives in Aspen, and understands how to dress for serious cold. So she looks me over, and in the blink of an eye explains why I am pretty much going to freeze. Are you ready? Drum roll, please....

My socks.

You're kidding, right? I was wearing those short little footie socks that you're not supposed to be able to see when you're wearing tennis shoes. Frankly, they are the only type of sock I own. In contrast, my sister-in-law pulled up her pant leg to show me her thick, knee-length socks. My mother-in-law then proclaimed that she was wearing not one, but three pair of socks. Hmmm. I haven't worn knee socks since middle school P.E., and I seriously don't think I've ever worn more than one pair of socks at a time. Multiple socks sounds like the express route to a foot full of blisters to me. But what do I know? According to them, that sliver of exposed ankle skin was going to make me freeze. I looked at them dubiously but let it go.

As I sat there getting chillier by the quarter I did notice a trend. My upper body was toasty warm. However, my long underwear only reaches to just below my knees, and from the knee down I was not feeling toasty. There was a constant draft of frigid air infiltrating my warmth. I pondered this between touchdowns, and late in the third quarter, as a gargantuan blocker for NC State literally squashed a little runner for Miami (Yes, I am the go-to-girl for all things football) I had my epiphany:

If I had longer bigger socks and longer bigger long underwear I could thoroughly have enjoyed the game instead of mostly enjoying it because I was slowly turning into a human Popsicle.
So the moral of the story is that size does matter. And the proper socks can save your bacon.
And also that your in-laws are usually right, but I'll reserve that for another post.