Monday, February 25, 2013

February Surprises

Two Saturdays ago we got the first snow that our little big town has seen in over two years---whoohoooo!  But instead of watching out the window and witnessing the first speck of a flake, the kids and I were sitting in a movie theater oblivious.   We had already received a mix of sleet and rain that morning, the "mild precipitation" that our esteemed meteorologists had told us about.  By the time I packed up our stir-crazy kids at 4:30 p.m. so that hubs could get some writing done, the sun was poking through the clouds as we made our way to the theater. 

We went to a small cinema that shows second-runs for $2 per ticket.  Wreck-It-Ralph?  Sold out.  We decided on Rise of the Guardians,  got settled in with our popcorn and Skittles, and about 20 minutes later my phone loudly jangled from my purse.  I was mortified--how could I have forgotten to turn it off?  Then i was miffed.  How could hubs call me when he KNOWS we're at a movie and I can't answer?  Then I was afraid.  It must be an emergency.  Fire?  Sick relative?  Sick dog?  OMG the kids!  No, wait- - they're right here. 

Yeah, it's a PICNIC here in my head.

 I finally hit "ignore" to stop the jangling and the nasty glances from other movie-goers, and whispered to the kids that I was headed to the hallway to see what Dad needed.   He answered immediately.  "Have you looked outside?"
"Uh, no."   I am in a THEATER after all.  Sheesh. 
I finally walked out into the lobby and . . .surprise! Every car in the parking lot was completely white and there was a virtual blizzard outside. 
That's North Carolina for ya, people.  If you don't like the weather, wait about five minutes, right?

After hanging up with hubs I crept back into the theater, whispered an apology to the kids and we left.  They were only mildly disappointed, considering the Skittles were already gone.  They were elated when they saw the reason we were leaving early.
We inched home, with my nose practically on the windshield.  We stopped for a few seconds to pick up a pizza I'd ordered.  They spent the last two hours of daylight wearing themselves out on our little plastic sled.  We made snow ice cream with the one can of condensed milk in the cupboard--I figured we'd better squeeze all the snow fun out of the day, lest it didn't snow for another two years!

That was one of the bigger surprises.  Another more personal, equally pleasant one came the previous night.  Hubs was hosting Room in the Inn at our church with our pastor and some other volunteers.  It's a program in which the church takes in about 12 men from the city shelter on Friday nights during the winter.   Nate loves to help serve the evening meal on these nights, and Friday night when Liv and I went to pick him up, we had to wait while he finished a heated foosball game with one of the guests.  I'm guessing that these men don't get to spend much time with kids, and watching how at ease my kid was with all of them warmed my heart to no end. 

Surprise number three came just a few minutes ago as I was walking through my office parking lot after returning from lunch.   Our morning started earlier than usual because the kids had to be at school at 6:30 for a field trip to our state capital.  Which meant that mom was fumbling around in the dark while getting dressed before bolting out the door.  Let's just say that those of us who don't, um, have it "together" at 5:20 a.m. should not store their black shoes and brown shoes right next to eachother on the closet floor.  So when I was traipsing back to my desk after having spent a full morning at work, I happened to look down. 

Yup.  Brown flat with tweedy accents on right foot, black Mary Jane on the left.  Sigh.  I pulled aside a couple of co-workers and interrogated them on whether I should go home and change.  They both admitted to doing the same thing before, which is why they're friends as well as co-workers.  And no, they said I shouldn't bother going home. 

Surprise number four is simply that, after a couple of years of quietly praying that my daughter wouldn't take an interest in Girl Scouts, she did join a local troop and I actually enjoy helping with it and watching her participate.  Nothing against Girl Scouts, it's just that she was already in danger of becoming the cliche'd overscheduled kid with all her other interests and I just didn't see squeezing it in.  But the cookie sales, little badge projects- - all of it, have been surprisingly fun for both of us.  And I quietly promised not to complain about shlepping myself and daughter to the meetings, at least not out loud.  Scout's honor.

Monday, January 7, 2013

January Junk

I love January.  Normally.  This month has thrown the Pellin clan another curveball on the health front.  My sweet MIL took a tumble and fractured her pelvic bone, and although it's challenging and certainly sucks, she's luckily one of the strongest people I know so we know she'll get through it OK. 

On the homefront I'm trying to resist the urge to de-clutter everything in sight the way all the January magazines are screaming at me to do.  The kitchen drawers alone could eat up all of 2013.  You see, not to brag, but I'm kind of an overachiever when it comes to kitchen junk drawers.  I have three of them. 

Drawer Number One was designated a junk drawer from the beginning, so it has one of those plastic organizer tray thingies in it, each compartment overflowing with Post-Its, dried-up Sharpie pens, Sharpie pens that actually write, nail files, picture hanger brackets, batteries, old photos from the refrigerator, fridge magnets with no magnetic strip (so are they still, in fact, magnets?), business cards from people we will never call, and a few ancient Hershey's kisses that even the kids won't eat.  In other words, essentials.

Drawer Number Two started out as a place to store small cutting boards and bulky kitchen utensils like the ice cream scoop and such.  They're still there, buried under piles of appliance manuals, tax receipts, receipts from my dad's old medical bills, and about five of those 20%-off coupons from Bed Bath and Beyond, some of which haven't actually expired.

Number Three was merely a dish towel drawer until about a year ago when I apparently decided it wasn't living up to its capacity potential, so I started tossing in gift-wrap ribbon, bread-tie twisties, ceramic stovetop cleaner, Scotch tape, masking tape, the grill lighter, Olivia's Girl Scout cookie forms, and Nate's pocket knife.  Now, whenever I need a dish towel it becomes a precarious exercise in which I use my left hand to hold back an avalanche of these items while slipping out a towel with my right.  I've gotten used to it, but when hubs or one of the kids goes to reach for a towel I have to scream "Nooooo!" because they don't know the system.

I also should mention my purse.  It's a problem.  Back in the spring I was diagnosed with "frozen shoulder" when I inexplicably couldn't raise my arms above my head or reach behind me without totally locking up.  It wasn't so much painful as baffling.  After an MRI and a series of muscle relaxers and PT appointments, it gradually improved.  But one of the ongoing changes my doc prescribed was scaling down my huge, overstuffed purse, which at the time was about a third of my body weight.  And friends, that is not light.

I compromised on a medium-size crossbody number that I can wear hands-free, but it's turning out to be entirely too small.  I can barely zip it up what with my wallet, four lip balms, two lip glosses, pennies, napkins, concealer, more pennies, four tea bags (you know in case I want to brew a pot while sitting in traffic or waiting for an oil change), five Splenda packets (for all the tea, apparently), an empty checkbook with shopping lists written on the back, a checkbook that holds actual checks, and a mysterious white powder, probably complements of one of the Splenda packets.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  I'll just have a cup of tea instead. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mom, Don't Be Mad. . .

I know it's not the end of the world but I just hate hearing those four words.  And, in our house, they are normally spoken at bedtime, when it's far too late to do anything about what I'm not supposed to be mad about. 
Turns out, what I wasn't supposed to be mad about last night was the fact that the next day was the last day of school before the holiday break and SOMEONE had a report due.  All this is
being worked out thanks to a kind teacher who allowed the wayward student to finish up the project over Christmas vacation.  Thank God for teachers with big hearts.
BUT.  Because I'm human and although deep down I realize that of course this is small potatoes in the big scheme of things, stuff like this frustrates me to no end because when my kids make boo-boos, big or small, I feel as if I've failed them somehow.
But, alas, it's  Christmastime so I'm stoicly on the sofa with the kids watching a country music Christmas show with lots of gorgeous fake scenery.   It's slowly putting me in a more jovial mood.
Tomorrow is my last day of work before having a few days off, and the next day we're headed to Bryson City for a ride on the Polar Express.  If I'm not in the spirit by then, well, there's just no hope for me.  But I'm optimistic.  :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Me, 43

The first time I felt truly "adult" was when I was 23. OK, so some of you maybe felt that way when you were 18 and went off to college. Well la-dee-da, OK? I was always a late bloomer I guess. Anyway.

When I was 23, I was drowning in notices from the local gas and oil company demanding payment for. . .I had no idea. I knew there was a big oil tank in the backyard of the 2-bedroom house I was renting. I knew that when I attempted to turn on the heat for the first time there was a loud clunking noise from the pipes but no freakin' heat. They also called me at home, at work and even called my parents at one point---they got the emergency contact from the rental company.

Here's what I knew: I was a reporter at my hometown newspaper. I made about 12 cents an hour after taxes, and I was darned if I was going to cough up another dime for nonexistent heating oil when there were Ramen noodles and lip gloss to buy. Also, it's really embarrassing to have your Daddy call you at your grown-up job inform you that if you can't pay your bills you need to cart your delinquent self back home.

So, after many tearful explanations on the phone with the oil place (me) and cold, life-sucking responses (them), I went down to the oil place on my lunch break. One of the mixed blessings of living in a small town was that everyone knew you, your grandma and the fact that your Uncle Emmett was once married to a sheep. Not really, but you get the idea. Well, turns out that the important guy at the oil place did know my Granny. I told him about the thermostat situation, my empty oil tank and showed him the stack of notices. I told him about the evil, soul-crushing person who kept calling me. He gave a sideways look toward the older woman at the counter. I cast a quick glare myself. Within about 15 minutes, we worked it out. I wrote a check for about half the amount they'd asked for, with a guarantee that someone would be out to fill the tank. "When?" I asked? "I'll have Mike follow you out there right now."

 So, I worked it out. Me, at 23. And I felt very grown-up. How the heck was that 20 flippin' years ago?? I'm 43 today and I feel exactly the same. Well, mostly.  Also, I had this cute, funny co-worker when I was 23 who thought he was All That because he wrote a humor column with his picture at the top.  Well, I guess he was All That, at least to me.  Plus, he kind of liked me.  Well, turns out he really, really likes me!  Enough to travel to Ukraine with me to find our beautiful baby girl.  Enough to not faint dead away when I got pregnant two months later.  And, enough to take me to the fair on my 43rd birthday!  Yaaaay!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Not-So- Recent Random Updates

From the last part of 2011. Better late than, well you know.
Photos from NYC! This was our November girls' trip with me, Liv, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and my niece Emma. So. Much. Fun.
The American Girl Store. Meeting Jackie Burns, a.k.a. Elphaba in Wicked. She was decidedly un-green just minutes after the show, and warm, friendly and generous with her time to boot. Thanks to Dom, the son of my MIL's friend, for arranging the meet-up.
There are also some pics taken from the Staten Island Ferry, some of the more famous buildings as well as the 911 Memorial and Dylan's Candy Bar which we discovered was just a few blocks from the hotel. The day we left, of course!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day 2012, the end of a bewildering February

Years from now when I look back on February 2012 I will probably only recall one thing:
There was a fire. On my kids' school bus.

It started with smoke coming from the steering column on the afternoon ride home on February 8. There were only six children left on the bus and two of them were named Pellin. At the first sign of smoke, a merciful, brilliant, quick-thinking angel of a bus driver very calmly herded the children out the back emergency exit door. Within minutes, the dashboard burst into flames and engulfed the front of the bus while they stood safely a few yards away.
So the kids and driver were on the news, and the school and the fire department honored the driver with a plaque. I babbled something on camera about being eternally grateful to her forever, which I will be. I sounded like Ellie Mae Clampett. But an eternally grateful Ellie Mae Clampett.

While the camera was in my face I kept thinking:
There was a fire. On my kids' school bus.

February 2012 has brought many more things: The beginning of softball and baseball practice for both Olivia and Nate. Another sleepover each. The removal (finally) of my mother-in-law's knee brace. The Sunday that I sat down and wrote down two (TWO!) weeks of meal plans and grocery lists. The three nights in a row that I made it to bed by 9:30 p.m. Making a slow cooker of chili for staff appreciation day at school, which was well-received. Making apple dumplings for my dear friend from work, John, who's recovering from knee replacement. Going to our beloved City Tavern with our beloved Dawn and Steve.

See, I want to remember the good stuff, too. Even though there was (all together now) a fire. On my kids' school bus.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Random 2012 notes

Oh, my---I love January. The pressure to be jolly is finally over, and now we can be merely content. Which is actually good enough, thank you.

The new year brought good news on a family health front and after that, well, all other good things were just a bonus. But, mercifully, they keep coming, and we are so grateful.

My mother-in-law is still recovering nicely and has managed to do so without threatening bodily harm to anyone, which is likely how I would react after being couch-bound for weeks on end.

In the last couple of weeks both kids have had sleepovers, Sir Jack for Nate and the lovely Elaina for Liv. Both guests were excellent company. This weekend has been a tad quieter, with Nate nursing a cold. Olivia is at her knitting lesson today with Cousin Emma. This idea was hatched by the girls and a dear church member Susan. Twice a month they go home with Susan after church, have a snack and knit. I don't know which thing I'm more blown away by---the fact that my ten-year-old daughter who loves all things electronic is fascinated by knitting, or the never-ending grace and generosity of someone like Susan who offered up two Sunday afternoons a month to knit and share cookies with her. As I mentioned, the good things blessedly keep rolling in.

What's on the night stand: (Or should I say what's on the new Kindle Fire which was a Christmas gift from hubs. But it does rest on the night stand.)-- Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamont. Awesome, awesome read. Anne Lamont is a recovered alcoholic who is now an associate pastor of a super crunchy granola church in northern California. Her courageous honesty about her struggles through addiction, getting sober and unexpectedly having a son at age 35 is nothing short of humbling. The fact that she's hilarious is just icing.

What's been on the menu: Aunt Sybil's chili, roast chicken, chicken and rice soup, beef tips. All in the slow cooker, my winter BFF. Oh, and of course chicken casserole, the kind with the stuffing on top (not a slow cooker meal but just as easy and delicious). I had to make that after overhearing Nate ask Emma one night "Hey, have you ever had my Aunt Sybil's chicken casserole? With the crunchy stuff on top? Oh, MAN that stuff is goooood." Emma and my Aunt Sybil, as far as I know, have never met. But maybe I should make the casserole for her one day--she will definitely want to meet her and get her autograph to boot. :)

State of winter so far: Still not much of one, although today the temps barely reached above 40 which was highly unusual. Aunt Beth's birthday is still coming up on Tuesday and that almost always brings some snow. Finger's crossed!
And fingers double-crossed that if it comes, it'll melt in about 8 hours. Heh. Sorry, that's how we southern gals roll.