Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ah, recovery. And Christmas movies that aren't so Christmassy.

We had a fabulous holiday of Beaufort County travel (me and the kids) mingled with holiday time here at home with my dad. I loaded up the kids to take them to Eastern NC the weekend before Christmas so they could meet my cousin Erica and her family who flew in from Oklahoma for a few days. It was so good to see her, and I also got the bonus gift of seeing my friend Renee who now lives in NYC.
Renee and her husband Stu were visiting her folks, who live just up the road from my dad. ( Now, in rural Eastern NC, "up the road" means about five-ten miles away.) Anyhoo, once I realized she was nearby, I arranged to stop by her mom's house after the kids were tucked away. Man, is there anything that's more of a deja-vu overload than sitting in your friend's mom's kitchen? Renee's mom, Ms. Dorothy, puttered around in the kitchen the entire time, putting together a pecan pie while Renee and I chatted. We sat at the same little kitchen table where we used to swoon over Rick Springfield and eat Manwich sloppy joes that we'd occasionally whip up after school. I felt fifteen again for the first time in a long, long while, and it was one of the coolest gifts I could've received.
We headed to Charlotte on Sunday, with my dad following behind. The next night he got to see the kids sing at church on Christmas Eve. Nate's group sang "Away in a Manger," complete with occasional swaying, and Liv's choir sang a rousing little ditty called "Dance and Sing." They went to bed immediately after church----is there any better bribe out there than Santa's pending arrival? The next day, after the dust had settled from the ripping open of a foldaway doll house, a robot, two guitars and yes, a set of bongo drums (if you see Santa tell him I'd like a word or two), we lounged and played for awhile, then headed over to Mark's mom's for an early dinner of beef tenderloin and all the trimmings. Delish. The days preceding and following that day have been sprinkled with my dad's peanut brittle, various butter cookies, egg nog and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Awesome holiday. My pants are tight, but my heart is full.
Now it's the 28th, and the kids are watching their "Jungle Book" anniversary edition DVD (thanks Grandma!) and football's on the other tube. It's been a great couple of days. Last night hubs and I got the unexpected treat of having the kids stay at Grandma's while we went out for spicy Asian food and a cold cocktail. After that we even managed to stay awake during a real, grown-up movie. It was called "No Country For Old Men," and hubs wanted to see it because he'd read the book. It was pretty good, a tad violent for my usual taste, but I was so excited to be conscious after 9 p.m. on a Friday night I didn't give a hoot.
Aside from last night's outing, there have been several really good movies on cable lately, and a few of them, even though they aren't really "Christmas" movies per se, are must-sees for me nearly every year around this time. Oh, you feel a list coming on, don't you?
1. "Because of Winn Dixie". This movie came out on DVD in December of 2005 and Olivia watched it repeatedly until about March. It was also the last movie she saw in a theater with my mom. In the movie, ten-yr-old Opal often says upon meeting someone, "The first thing you should know about me is that I don't have a mama." And now I often feel like saying the same thing. I guess that's called "irony". Or, "shit-on-a-stick", but whatever.
2. "Moonstruck." It's wintertime in New York, and Cher gets her hair done big as a house and puts some lovin' on a crazy-haired, wild-eyed Nick Cage. Can't you just hear those jingle bells?
3. "Fight Club." Mark and I watched this with his friend Bernie Vogel when he came to visit at Christmas about eight years ago. I like to replace the guest soaps after watching it. Heh.

Turns out that's a pretty short list! And now, for the shows that drip Christmassy goodness. . . or badness, depending on the mood.

1. "Scrooged." Bill Murray with a still almost-full head of hair gets scared into a serious 'tude adjustment by a ghostly Buster Poindexter, among others. In the end, he gets with that cute girl with the freckly nose.
2. "A Christmas Story" Believe it or not, I'd never even seen this movie before I met Mark. My first Christmas with the Pellin clan included a late-night viewing of this one with Mark, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. Hence, "frag-eee-lay" has been part of the household vocabulary for 14 years.
3. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" My kids don't understand why I cry a little bit during this one. It's just, that poor, sweet tree must symbolize how we all feel sometimes until someone shows us a little love. And because---oh, the holidays!
4. Any "Little House on the Prairie" Chrsitmas episode. My kids seriously need to see other kids who get deleriously happy over a skinny little stocking with an orange and a penny in the toe.
5.Little Women--the '90's version with America's favorite five-finger-discount girl, Wynona Ryder. Susan Sarandon is radiant as Marmee, and there's a lot of gorgeous period costumes swooshing about. And more swooning over little Christmas miracles like oranges and sausage stuffing.

Hope ya'll had some poigniant viewing moments this holiday! See you in 2008!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thanksgiving rocked!

Best Buds Nate and Uncle Dew

Snow what fun!

I am thankful. And apparently eleventy feet tall.

This year we travelled to Ohio for Thanksgiving to see Mark's sweet aunt and uncle. I was more than a little apprehensive about the drive, but the kids handled it beautifully. Mark and I were more than a little amazed. In fact, I'd say that was probably the greatest blessing of all!
This was the first time I'd been out of state for Thanksgiving in.. .well. . .my lifetime. But we'd been itching to get up north and visit and around Halloween we decided this would be the best time for everyone. My Mom-In-Law Extraordinnaire, Barb, travelled with us. She sat up front and I sat in back between Liv and Nate, an arrangement we worked out somewhere around Beckley, W. Va. when the "He's looking at me!!" stuff started (hey, we still had our standard sibling moments). Mark took command of our massive rental vehicle the whole way up and the whole way back, for which I am also truely grateful.
There were many cool, almost magical things that occurred on this trip that made it more than a worthwhile way to spend the holiday:
1. The kids got to see the street where Daddy grew up, an idyllic little stretch of Boardman, OH with one beautiful,Norman-Rockwellesque house after another.
2. The hotel we stayed in was simply awesome. It's called the Dutch House, and although it has 100-plus rooms it had a very country-inn feel. They were already decked out for Christmas, with two huge trees in the lobby and several decorated fireplaces. The buffet straight from their own bakery every morning didn't hurt either.
3. We got to see Mark's dear friend from high school, Bernie Vogel. At one point he told Nate, while pointing to Mark, "I would kill or die for this guy. Do you have a friend like that? That's important in life." Nate paused for a moment and said, "My Grandpa. And also Uncle Larry." I beamed.
4. Mark and Uncle Dew got to celebrate their birthdays together, with two adorable cakes presented to them by the kids. And nobody dropped one!
5. Four letters: S-N-O-W. The real stuff, people. It started coming down late Thursday night and by Friday morning we had a gorgeous 2-3 inches. We were the only yahoos out sledding in it, but we didn't care. Mark said I was as bad as the kids; my nose was pressed to the hotel window, watching each little miracle float to the ground at 7 a.m.
6. Mark's cousin Pam, a walking piece of awesomeness who happens to be a teacher too, brought scads of leftover Thanksgiving crafts from her classroom so the kids could get their creativity on while the adults visited.
7. The coffee. Oh, the coffee---Seattle's Best, specifically, at the hotel. And the scrumptious Peppermint Mocha from the drive-thru Starbuck's in West Va. on the way home. Just the eye-opener Mama needed. Thanks, Mark!
8. Watching Nate and Olivia gleefully push Dew in his wheelchair. His new way to roll is pretty cool in their eyes.
9. Playing Apples to Apples with Barb, Pam and Mark after dinner.
10. Stopping at Cracker Barrel on the way home. Oh, and making it home in under the estimated time. Hey, I'm Woodrow Boyd's daughter---it's all about making good time. Right, Dad?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The plague of the potty-mouths

I think every parent I know (except maybe Pastor Trevor) has a story or many, many stories about how their child once blurted out a curse word at the most inappropriate moment.

It usually turns into one of those I'd-kill-you-if-this-weren't-so-GD-funny times.

We've had one particularly horrifying/hilarious gem lately, and I wanted to jot it down before I forgot it. Also so I can return the torture to my children one day by telling the story to their prom date.

So we're in the van the other day, me at the wheel and the kids in the backseat in their boosters. Nate had two pieces of his Halloween candy clenched in his hands, so of course the moment I'm strapped in and backing out the driveway, he immediately drops them. This hasn't really occurred to me until now, but the kid pretty much verbalized what his mommy was thinking: "GodDAMMIT!"
Apparently, having your prized dumdum-pop and roll of Smarties plummet from your hands requires a choice selection from the sailor's handbook, in my four-year-old son's opinion.

I sort of froze, about to look up and deliver one of many Sermons From the Rearview Mirror, when Olivia held out her hand to stop me, as if to say she'd handle it. Then she turned to her brother and said, "No, Nate, remember we say GOSHdammit."

At least our mini war on Olivia saying "OMG" was working. There's just something so obnoxious about a little kid saying "God" in that way. The dammit part, well. . .obviously we're a work in progress at Casa Pellin.

There was another, much sweeter Olivia-ism that took place a few months ago. I was chopping up an apple for the kids to munch on while I cooked dinner. Olivia came into the kitchen and asked if they could eat it before dinner. I said yes, that's what it's for. Then she yelled up the stairs, "Nate---come on down---Mommy made us an apple-tizer."

That girl.

Other random, impossibly cute, non-cursing things they say and do:

  • Nate has called our minister, Pastor Trevor , "Patrick Trevor" since he was about two. He really thinks that's his name.
  • Olivia recently told Nate's young, very pretty teacher "You smell just like my Grandma!" and she meant it as one of the highest compliments one can receive.
  • Nate refers to his Bobby, his ratty, much-loved lovie blanket, as a "him," a living being with thoughts and feelings. For example, Bobby cannot be left in the car overnight because he might get cold.
  • Olivia once told my dad, after he'd just gotten dressed after emerging from the bathroom in his boxer shorts, "Um, I'm glad you have a shirt on now, because before I could see your boobies and it was so disgusting." Just a side note, Dad---you look just fine. "Disgusting" was a new addition to the vocabulary at the time and absolutely had to be worked into every possible sentence.

That's all I can think of for now. Hopefully we'll have more moments like the ones above and fewer backseat swear-a-thons.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

They were angels at the pumpkin patch--what happened?

On a more peaceful day

Have I said that I love my kids? I'm sure I have, and believe me, I do. I love how they accept everything as it is, including their deeply-flawed Mama. I love how they argue over who gets to snuggle next to me on the sofa----hey, working all day and living with a workaholic man (albeit very cute) who works nights can feel pretty isolating, so it's nice to come home and kick back with two people who actually nearly come to blows over who gets to sit next to you!

BUT!! (You know you saw the but coming!) Sometimes I don't think I'll be able to take them into a restaurant until they're about 25. I was really looking forward to this evening; I was going to treat my dear friend Dawn to dinner at one of those burrito places (her pick). Dawn, addition to being super smart, funny and kind, has suffered through about three funerals in the past month and a-half, and I wanted to sit and catch up with her while also celebrating her belated birthday, which was last week.

One of the things that makes Dawn so special to me is that she appears to genuinely love spending time with my kids. Even when they interrupt our conversation 89 times in one hour. Even when SOMEONE *cough*-nate-*cough* accidentally pokes me in the eye with his drinking straw and causes me to scream in pain, thus losing my train of thought AGAIN. Even when they announce they have to go potty immediately after we sit down with our food and I end up spending the next 20 minutes in the bathroom with Olivia, um, I mean someone, who for some reason does no longer likes to do "the number two" in her school's little girls' room. Even when they, when it's finally time to leave, accidentally go out the patio door, then run delightedly around, ignoring their mother's demands that they follow her out the correct door to the parking lot.

But I did manage to squeeze in a couple of updates about my life, and I think I heard Dawn say that she's holding up OK. OH, and she's lost about 70 some-odd pounds in about six months---you look smokin' hot, Dawn! You the hotness! Thick or thin, I love you all the way through. And so do those little monsters of mine.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Today I have anniversaries on the brain, of both the wonderful and horrible variety. About one month ago we celebrated five years of being the parents of Olivia, our precious bundle from Ukraine. In May my hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. In July we helped our little Nate the Great blow out four candles on his Carvel ice cream cake. And, also in July, I thought of my mom, who passed away in July 2005. I still think of her every day, but in the summer, just when the heat starts to suffocate and the asphalt is enough to make every TV reporter fry an egg on the sidewalk, her presence is stronger than ever for me.
Society tells us that two years is plenty of time to be over a thing, but I think for my dad and me, and possibly Olivia too, it took at least a year to go through the cycle of shock, anger and disbelief, and now we just plain miss her. I just think it's so unfair that she didn't get to see the kids grow up (um, did I say I was over the anger part?) but I'd like to believe that she still sees us every day. And I hope we make her proud.