Friday, December 23, 2011

Faking It

Things feel a little off this year. We've decorated, made gingerbread creations, sent and received cards but for various reasons I'm just not feeling it this year.

Yesterday we discovered that something we thought we didn't have to worry about is, in fact, not quite over. It feels like a cruel joke was played on all of us.

Meanwhile, we all know that a big part of this season is for the children so for their sake I'm putting on music tonight, getting down my Christmas Eve coffee cake ingredients, and helping them wrap their gifts for eachother. Olivia has been working on something for Nate for weeks. Nate--well, he approved of the gift his mother purchased for him to give his sister. He really thought Liv would prefer Madden Football for the Wii but somehow I don't agree.

Oh, and did I mention it's nearly 70 degrees? I'm not complaining it's just that that is decidedly UN-Christmassy weather, OK?

The good thing is that Mark's brother and his family are flying in from Maine tonight and staying with us. The kids are beyond excited to see their cousin and it'll be great to spend time with them.

Sigh. . .meanwhile I'll try to get over my funk. Maybe the spirit will hit me sometime in February when perhaps the temperature will dip below 60.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Hmm, where to begin.
November sure did bring us a roller coaster ride that started out great and ended with a thud. But December mercifully had us back on track again, chugging along.

I'll post some pics soon from a wonderful trip to NYC that Olivia and I took with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece. It was a much-needed girls weekend that included going to see "Wicked" on Broadway, a Central Park carriage ride, and skating for the girls at Rockefeller Center.

Soon after arriving home, my sweet sister-in-law received news that shook us all to our very core. After a lot of tears, prayers and support from our church family and friends (oh and a very successful surgery) she's on the mend and we're slowly creeping our way back to normal. Or at least normal for us. :)

MEANWHILE, my poor mother-in-law, who normally effortlessly maintains her status as Super Grandma, fell and broke her kneecap a couple of weeks ago (I KNOW--Owwww) and is reluctantly laid up on her couch. The knee is set and braced and so far it looks like she'll be able to avoid surgery. BUT!! She of course is so frustrated because she wants to help her daughter, cook, wrap gifts, decorate and basically do what Grandmas do.
Mark and I (mostly Mark, I have to say) have tried to help out with both households as much as possible. We still don't feel as if we're doing enough. Hopefully we made things a little more bearable for them. They mean so much to us, and we realize that now more than ever.

Back in Pinetown: My dear Uncle Edgar passed away on Saturday Dec. 17. He had been in declining health for months and is at last at peace. He loved football, chocolate, and his many nieces and nephews. He loved being an uncle, and it showed. RIP, sweet Edgar Paul.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Looking Back on September

OK, I realize I'm going backwards here. The last post included photos from August, then I jumped to October and now I'm back to September. Sorry. I have to be me.
Just wanted to preserve some memories from my birthday girl's night in Charlotte with pals Dawn and Sharon, and also Aunt Ro's 90th birthday lunch at The Savannah Tea Room in Fort Mill.

We're too shexy for our gruyere popovers. Almost.

Morning-after French press at Amelie's!

Emma and Olivia with Aunt Ro on her birthday.

Random Recent Moments

That title isn't entirely accurate, depending on how "recent" August actually is. Anyway, here are some photos of Benjamin's shower in August (we also took a side trip with cousins Holly and Rhynn to wait for one of the world's best hot dogs EVAH).
There's also some shots of the wedding in October, a snap of the view from Blue Ridge Parkway, and I also captured Olivia's 'do for the daddy-daughter dance last night. Also got one of her and Mark before they headed out the door. They both had a blast. This was one of the school's best fundraisers by far. Can't wait to break out the macarena for the mother-son dance in the spring! Hee. Just kidding. I'm much, much better at the robot.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

That Girl

I really need to post some photos soon so I can look back on events of the past few months. Meanwhile, a teensy vent.

Olivia and Mark are attending the school's first annual Daddy-Daughter dance this Saturday (uncles, grandpas and guardians welcome too of course). We first found out about it a month or so ago and she and I agreed (next time I'll get it in writing) that she would wear the cute little black sparkly dress she wore to Benjamin's wedding.

So last night while out trick-or-treating we ran into one of the other dads who said that his daughter, a friend of Liv's, bought a new dress this weekend and was very excited. We told him how excited Olivia also was, and she piped up, "When are WE going shopping for a dress, Mommy?"


After we walked on, I reminded her that she already had a dress. Remember? The one you wore to Benjamin's wedding? Then she did what it takes most women decades to perfect. She said, "Oh. It's OK." Then she sighed. Then she got quiet.

So naturally I went out at lunch and plunked down whatever money I've saved from brown-bagging my lunch this month for a new dress. A red one, with a cute little shawl thingy for the shoulders. Sheesh. I need my head examined. That thing that some moms are born with, the thing that makes you do ANYTHING to make your daughter smile, even when they're being a bit of a butthead? Yeah, I need to have that thing surgically removed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Warm and Fuzziness on Friday

Tomorrow we head to beautiful Boone, NC to see my wittle bitty baby cousin Benjamin get married. OK, so he's not so itty bitty anymore. That would be weird. He's all grown up, teaches high school and is getting hitched to a super-smart mountain gal who also teaches at the same school.
The kids are beside themselves with excitement. They've never been to a wedding before, so they're not sure what to expect. They've had their outfits planned for weeks. All they really know is they're going to get to see two people kiss in public, and at some point some yummy snacks will be involved.

It also doesn't hurt that Boone is smack-dab in the middle of the NC mountains, which should be gorgeous with autumn color right now. And, we'll also get to see some sweet aunts, uncles and cousins.

So today, with road trip plans swimming in my mind, here are the comforting words that keep popping in my head:

Pumpkin latte (you KNOW I will stop for one).
The team store, where I'm sure hubs will get an App State sweatshirt.
Fried chicken (From the Daniel Boone Inn---duh!).
Cinnamon Pear jam from Mast General Store. It will be mine.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The groove. And comic relief.

I think I'm back in it. The groove, I mean. The kids long beat me to it. They hit the ground running when school and other activities began, and aside from a brief e-mail from someone's teacher about someone's excessive chattiness during work cycles (guess who), September and the school year got off to a relatively smooth start.

I just realized that a couple posts ago I mentioned a river tubing trip with no other details other than the scorching case of poison ivy I received as a parting gift. Oh, and hubs got it too. The trip itself, while I wouldn't say was a total bust was well. . . eventful. I think I can laugh about it now. Only a little.

The weekend before school started we decided to take a day trip to the mountains to tube down the Green River. For 8 bucks a pop, you get to leisurely float down the gently flowing water on your own little innertube-thingy while enjoying the breathtaking views. The website failed to mention the razor-sharp rocks, the fact that you're helpless against the current with no paddle and the weedy banks of the river which seem to have a magnetic pull with the ability to draw 41-yr-old Moms away from the group.

Mercifully, cameras and cellphones weren't allowed on the river, so there are no images of me getting caught in the weeds 49 times and requiring Mark to paddle back and rescue me, pulling my little tube-raft back into the current.

And me, stepping out of my raft to join everyone on the bank for a break only to step right into a hidden 20-foot drop-off and plunge into the water, finally emerging after what seemed like a year only to flail around, grab my blessed tube, sunglasses and desperately try to fight the current to get to shore. I remember seeing the kids out of the corner of my eye, pointing and yelling. Mark had to come help me then too.

Oh, and there was also me getting caught in some swirly part of the water in the middle of the river that didn't allow my raft to budge. I kept going around in a little circle, desperately trying to paddle my way out of it with my hands. Finally, one of the kids noticed that Mom was lagging behind (again) and once again my hero (although a sighing, eye-rolling hero), lugged his own raft over and pulled me back into the proper current.

Later that night, after the kids were in bed, I apologized for being a tubing spaz. He gave my knee a little patronizing pat and assured me it was OK. Normally I would've called him on the little pat, but I was so happy to be alive and sitting on my couch and watching a Law and Order from 1999 that I just patted him back.

This month I made it to age 42. No thanks to that dadgum river.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another August Almost Gone

For me, August is hard. I've mentioned that, I know. The absence of my parents is even more palpable during their birthday month, and this year was also the first anniversary of Dad's passing.

Also, I'm currently taking a prednisone prescription for poison ivy contracted during a river tubing trip (more on that later). The prednisone is only slightly helping---I've been sneaking into the bathroom at work to claw at my upper arms. It also has a tendency to cause insomnia for me, so. . .a slightly sad girl alone with her thoughts at 1 a.m.? Bad combo.

I just miss them. I miss the way my mom would say, "Oh, HELLO!" whenever I called. I miss the way my dad would say "Fairly middlin'" whenever someone asked how he was doing. The answer was the same whether he was having a great day, or bedridden in the hospital.
I miss watching them with the kids--my dad showing them the glorious ritual of making homemade churned ice cream. My mom putting her curlers in Olivia's hair. But mostly I just miss them.

There's good stuff in August, too: Olivia's adoption anniversary, which brings a celebratory dinner and family fun. The reminder of a never-ending blessing. Oh, and Mark's cousin Pam's birthday, which almost always guarantees a visit from her. And this year it did; she came down from Ohio with Aunt Ro and we had a great time together eating out, swimming at Grandma's neighborhood pool, etc.

School began last week and turns out I was the one least prepared. Back to crazy schedules and structured bedtimes? Bleh--do I have to??
But, I'm determined to pull myself out of this funk and get in the groove. Life is actually pretty good. Itchy, but good.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Things I've Learned This Summer

1. I hate "recommended" summer assignments as much as the kids. Fewer things are more exhausting than watching an eight-year-old write five cursive sentences, all while simultaneously giving you the stink-eye.

2. My son Nate's name, when bellowed by an exhasperated sister, can have as many as three syllables: "Naaa-aaa--TUH!"

3. Going to an amusement park in a light rain is the best way to go. No lines, no suffocating heat. This gem I learned by accident.

4. Certain days in July and August will always be a little sad for me, no matter how I may try to ignore it. Feeling sad is OK. Eating every carb in sight, while certainly a temporary mood-lifter, is not.

5. Despite living in the south all my life, I continue to be amazed when we occasionally hit triple-digit temps in the summer. And I still find it fascinating conversation and I'm not ashamed.

6. Some frozen fruit + yogurt + almond milk + oatmeal+ a little Splenda whirled in a blender = a refreshing breakfast and no hunger pangs before lunchtime.

7. When a small home project takes about three times as long as it should, it becomes normal to have paint cans sitting in your foyer. One day they'll be gone, and I'm not sure what we'll do with the bit of empty space.

8. Ten-year-old girls, when they sneak into your make-up and apply mascara and lip gloss, suddenly look like fifteen-year-old girls. This makes me cry. And hide my make-up with the bathroom cleaning products. She'll never look there.

9. For some people, growing your hair long again in an attempt to recapture youth only makes one look like a puffy ex-cheerleader. Again, this is only true for some people. With names that rhyme with "Spacy Smellin'."

10. When making lists, it's OK to stop at nine even though your heart and soul screams out for a nice, round even number like---oh, hey look---TEN!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Too Soon For Aricept??

Hey- have you ever been in the grocery store, pondered buying some vanilla Greek yogurt to go with your work lunches, but then decided you won't spend money on more yogurt until all the disgusting overly-sweet yogurt that your kids like is gone? And then, while packing your lunch later that night, frantically searched for the vanilla yogurt that you were SURE you bought?

Yeah. Me neither.

Oh! And have you ever purged your pantry, which included throwing out some old baking powder from 2002, and then a few days later you wanted to make this killer recipe for pancakes and then proceeded to turn your cupboards inside out looking for the blessed 1/4 tsp baking powder it called for?

Me neither. But wouldn't that be funny? You know, if someone you knew actually did that?

And have you ever driven into the parking lot at work and found a super-sweet spot extra close to the building, which is miles away from where you normally have to park, and then when five o'clock rolls around you're wandering around the parking lot trying to look nonchalant while you press the "panic" button on your key fob so you can find said vehicle??

Ahem. Me neither. But if I knew someone like that, I'd probably suggest that she stop watching lame-o LOST DVD's and get to bed on time!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I've Been Waiting Such a Long Time for Saturday

Good day today. Blessedly uneventful.
Liv and I actually woke up in time to make it to the farmer's market today while it was in full swing. We got to visit the last two Austrailian Sheepdog pups that a local rescue group brings each weekend. I explained again why they can't come home with us, but in my heart I have named them Annie and Mable and they get along famously with Wally and no one minds that every available surface in the house is covered in their fabulous tri-colored fur.
So, yet again, we had to be satisfied with Baucom Farm eggs and a bag of kale, a head of baby romaine and a quart of strawberries. Not a bad consolation.
After Nate's baseball game (they lost 14-16 but the Natester got two nice base hits), we headed over to Matthews to pick up a birthday gift for Grandma.
We also stopped for a couple of DVD's, Ace Ventura for the kiddos and the last season of LOST for the oldsters. We are totally addicted to that freakin' show. We can't help but burst into giggles when we talk about it.

"Like, do you think Sawyer loves Juliet now that they've time-travelled back to 1977?"
"Well, yeah, but if John Locke turns the big wheel and sends them back to present day and they all get rescued, it could change EVERYTHING, man."


Good day.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A royal-tastic breakfast

Congrats to Will and Kate. We celebrated at Casa de Pellin by having our juice in wine goblets along with our Multigrain Cheerios while watching the coverage.
It was good to turn on the morning news and see something fun for a change.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April is the cruelest &%$#ing month

OK, so score one tiny point for me for letting my intuition guide me this weekend.

When Liv woke up with a generally achy tummy on Saturday I did what most mothers and grandmothers who came before me have done for generations. I asked: "When was the last time you went number two, Honey?"
When she couldn't recall, I gave her a Motrin and some hot tea. She felt better, and we proceeded with our day of picking up the house, getting a hair trim (mine) and other errands. She was able to eat a little lunch, but not much.

When we got home, Anna Marie came by and the two of them assumed their position on the sofa in front of the laptop with their heads glued together at the sides. At one point Liv stood up and doubled over in pain, clutching her right side.

That was it--after one phone call to run my thoughts by Mark and my mom-in-law who were out with Nate, we were on our way to the ER. My mother-in-law and I are both appendicitis veterans with the lovely scars to prove it, so we knew the signs.

After some brief examinations, blood tests and tears, Liv was in the operating room having a laparoscopic appendectomy. I became tearful only after the surgery was underway and Mark was with me in the waiting room. Honestly, it all happened so fast it took that long for the reality to catch up with me. Within 45 minutes after she entered the O.R., the surgeon came out with some digital photos of our daughter's intestine and the offending little, um, appendage. It had a little jagged black hole on the tip, the beginning of a rupture.

"Thank God you brought her in when you did," Mark said. And thank God the surgeon and his attending physician didn't listen to me when I practically begged for ultrasounds, CT scans and any other tests before they put my baby under general anaesthesia. In the end they stood firm and went with their gut (sorry), and for that I'm so grateful.

So, here's to over-protective moms and knowledgeable, slightly stubborn surgeons everywhere.

Today Olivia's much better, a little sore from the operation but eating, drinking and moving around slowly but surely around the children's wing of the hospital. Nate, her cousin Emma and her grandma have all been here making a fuss over her. Fingers crossed that we can head home tomorrow, that's the plan! Meanwhile, she'll have a great "How I Spent My Spring Break" story for next week.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Random April Updates

1. I woke up early Friday morning to the unmistakeable sounds of Nate getting sick in the hall bathroom. Several high temp readings and one Dr.'s visit reminiscent of a hog-tying later, we were sent home with orders of fluids and rest. It's just a virus, but a wicked one. However, our boy is not so weak that he doesn't require one robust-sized mom and a seasoned nurse to hold him down while a strep test is being administered.

2. Today is day three of Nate's sickness and spring finally decided to arrive with gorgeous 70-degree temps and clear skies. Watching him stare out the window at the neighborhood kids playing basketball at the goal at the end of the street is heartbreaking.

3. Olivia and her cousin Emma are in our church's spring musical this evening. They each have several lines and have been practicing for weeks and weeks. My job is to videotape something other than my toes and the heads of the people sitting in front of me so Nate and Mark can watch it later.

4. I watched a Disney TV movie called "Starstruck" with the kids last night, starring Sterling Knight (please God that can't be his real name). Unbelievably horrible.
I found myself saying things like "Um, most girls don't care that much about cars, Honey." and "I'm pretty sure she's too young to go to a concert without a parent."
Anyway, somehow I've got this insanely catchy song from the movie burning a hole through my brain:
"Somethin' about the sunshine, bay-beee, seein' you in a whole new light!
LA's cool with the palm trees swayin', OOH it's so right!"

Help me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

By the way. . .

Nate often begins his conversations this way. And even more often, it's something that's clearly NOT a "by the way" item. As in, "By the way, Mama, my diorama of an eastern estuary system needs to be turned in tomorrow." Oh, you mean the shoebox that has virtually nothing in it that's occupied one end of the dining room table for two weeks? This, as I was tucking him in bed at 9 p.m.

But sometimes his "By the way" comments are truly priceless. Last night, driving home children's choir practice:
"By the way, when the bus driver was early this morning? And didn't wait for us? Dad said a really, really bad word." Then he added,nodding emphatically, "But don't worry, I covered my ears. Because, whew! It was really bad."
This was followed quickly by,
"Oh, and by the way? Ms. Brainerd says I can say the 'A' word as long as I'm talking about a donkey."

OK. Good to know.

Friday, March 4, 2011

That's So Random

That's the title of the sketch comedy show that Demi Lavato's character performs on Sunny With A Chance, one of Olivia's favorite shows. Not that her mother has ever watched it. Ever. Ahem.
It also clearly describes the thoughts that inhabit my brain on this particular Friday afternoon. You know, in addition to my work, of course.

Must remember:

1. Olivia's b-day party next month, possibly at indoor pool at the Y. Do all her friends know how to swim?

2. Order cake. Mmmmm. Cake.

3. See if M. wants to take advantage of sainted grandma babysitting tonight and go see a movie or just get a DVD, order Thai and pass out on sofa promptly at nine with mouths open. But preferably not still full of food. That would be gross.

4. Must. Clean. Entire. House.

5. Layer cake or sheet cake for O's b-day? Is 10 too old for a character cake?

6. Mmmm. Cake. My mom always loved devil's food the best. I want my Mama.

7. Gather tax stuff for meeting with CPA next week. Sigh.

8. Enter daily points on Weight Watchers site before bed. Double sigh.

9. How many points does movie popcorn have? 6? 5,000?

10. Will my hair dresser forgive me for forgetting to cancel our appointment that I don't even remember making, but apparently missed on Saturday when I got the strained, over-polite voice mail from the receptionist? Should I just move on to another salon? Or just relocate and change my name?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Random Winter Moments

Here are some long overdue pics from December and January. They start with a couple of blurry shots of our beautiful church on Christmas Eve, followed by a few from Great Wolf Lodge at New Year's and lastly a shot of a gingerbread snowman made by the kids during our big snow last month. They were badly in need of a project by the second day of no school!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Twenty Eleven, A List

1. My favorite part of the holidays was between Christmas and New Year's when several family members came into town to see us! My sweet aunt and uncle from Pinetown and my cousin (their daughter) from Atlanta all met up in a hotel here in Charlotte for a few days. Throw in an indoor pool and the kids thought Santa had come a second time.

2. My second favorite part was right after my family left, and I was feeling a little bummed. Then hubs surprised me by suggesting we round up the kids and head to Great Wolf Lodge for New Year's. Because he is spontaneous like that. GWL is a resort in Concord with a huge indoor waterpark. Not to be confused with the GTL (gym-tan-laundry) routine from Jersey Shore.

3. After a Whole! Entire! Week! of gruesome school and work we are now being rewarded with a bonafide snow day. About five inches fell Sunday night and it's still floating down in huge, feathery flakes.

4. The kids and I made snow cream at 10:30 a.m., one of the 8,947 ways to use condensed milk in your life.

5. Have you ever wondered how many times your average seven-yr-old can ask "Mama?" in a six-hour period? It's exactly 10,988.

6. Have you ever watched a What Not To Wear marathon with a straight dude who was seemingly waaaay more into it than you? I have. That happened.

7. Cocoa with skim milk = yums.

8. Cocoa with half-and-half = buh-bye resolutions. But it's totally worth it.

9. I went to Shari's Berries website last week and made a certain cousin of mine very happy on her birthday with a gift of chocolate strawberries and cherries. If I could've seen her face, I would've been even happier. I'm a little homesick. Sniff.

10. I'm off to make more cocoa with half-and-half. Now I'm happy again.