Sunday, December 31, 2006

All I Wanted for Christmas was....a macaroni necklace?

OK, once I found out there was gonna be a little one in my life, waaaaaaaaaaay back when I wore fashionable clothes and kept very little healthy food of any kind in my kitchen, I had a terror of the inevitable child gift: the macaroni necklace.

I knew, just KNEW, that someday my child, who would of course be more adorable than any OTHER child on the face of the earth because, c'mon, let's face it, it was mine, right?...this child would present to me, wrapped badly in crumpled and torn paper, the ultimate handmade gift of a necklace strung with wobbly pasta, perhaps even painted and glittered. And I, because this is my child and I love it more than anything, would wear this necklace proudly and everywhere. And people would gasp at the adorableness of it, and would compliment my baby's ability to place pasta on a string, and they would be impressed. And furthermore, *I* would be an amazing mom because I wouldn't even CARE that this was (truthfully, just between you and me) not a particularly fashionable piece of jewelry.

And this scared me.

But as soon as the little one came out, I truly did begin to understand that fashion was secondary to mama love (and as the years passed, fashion kinda kept creeping down on the list, and now I think it's lost out there somewhere, and somebody remind me later to make out a poster to find it, hey?). And so I was ready to receive this finely crafted piece.

Eleven and a half years and TWO children later, still waiting. And honestly getting a little dismayed that I may not actually ever GET a macaroni necklace. And worried that this somehow means I have failed as a mom.

The kids *did* get me presents for Christmas. And this year was the first time that they picked them out ALL by themselves. Usually, when we get together with my parents, the kids will sidle up next to them and whisper, "What did we get Mom?" But this year, they were on their own, by my decree. And they did a great job. Mark got me a book, and some Sour Patch Kids, and a really pretty pair of sparkly earrings that he picked out on his own, and that actually were something I would have picked out for myself. Kira picked out an 8" wooden letter from the craft department and colored it herself in Magic Marker, so I could hang it on my bedroom door. This is directly related to the "M" and "K" that the kids have hanging on *their* bedroom doors, that are painted (and in Kira's case, covered with rhinestone jewels). She would have painted mine, but she had to do this in a top-secret fashion, and, being just turned seven, really isn't allowed free access to the paints. So she made do. And it turned out very well. My kids have demonstrated that they know me well, and have quite good taste, really.

But y'know, I'm just not giving up hope on that macaroni necklace. mk

And because I told Ro I would, here's the lovely way I responded to this year's Craft Day at school.

Each year the school volunteer group (of which I am a member as of this year) organizes a holiday craft day for the kids in grades K-5 at school. Last year they painted wooden shingles (and I still have the one Kira gave me hanging on my doorknob). This year they were painting terra cotta plant pots, and then receiving with them a small baggie of dirt and a bulb to plant, with the pot saucer as a lid. I contributed the gift tags that went along with them, printed a hundred or so and cut them all out. Craft Day took place on the Thursday before Christmas.

So, Friday and the last day of vacation came, and the kids brought all the stuff home from school that they'd made all week. Kira lovingly brought her plant pot to me, all proud: "Look what I did!" I admired it (it really was a clever little gift), and then, her little face all lit up, she rabbit-punched me:

"I'm going to give it to DAD!"

But, but! But what about ME?!?! And I am so ashamed to admit that I actually tried to subtly GUILT my little girl into giving me the pot, without ever asking for it. I even brought up the making of the gift tags. But she would not be swayed. It was going to her Dad. Because he hardly ever got any of the things she made. (She did have a point there. But I'm greedy. I want AAAALLLLLL the kid swag.)

Then, THEN she showed me the card that she made in art class. That she decided to keep for herself. But she took pity on her poor mom.

"You can have my gingerbread house, Mom!"

"You mean the one you came home and told me you smashed on the bus ride? Great. Thanks."

And even that. Yesterday when she had her friend over, she piped up: "Can we eat my gingerbread house?"

Kira giveth. And Kira taketh away. mk

Saturday, December 30, 2006

101 List Update

I'll keep updating this list as I go along. Green italic items are done (with completion date). Red dates refer to projects currently underway. Refer to the sidebar for a quick link to this update, as well as to the original list. Thanks! mk

My 101 List

Starting Date: December 28, 2006
Finish Date: September 24, 2009

1 Put up fence (done Oct '07)
2 Build shed doors
3 Get rid of truck (GONE! 9/19/07)
4 Finish quilt (12/23/08)
5 Clear out playroom
6 Paint ceiling in bedroom
7 Paint ceiling in hallway
8 Replace ceiling tiles in dining room
9 Paint bathroom (May/June 09)
10 Finish design for foundation garden
11 Get a headboard for my bed (10/13/07)
12 Install new walkway
13 Put a door that is not upside-down on the bathroom
14 Get beautiful pillows for living room. Ditch old ugly pillows. (new pillows 9/12/07)
15 Move the lilac bushes
16 Keep up with laundry for at least 2 consecutive weeks. Repeat.
17 Purge all the old magazines (Oct '07)
18 Help a friend with a home-improvement project
19 Make out my will
20 Get living will notarized (12/8/08)
21 Get a passport (have certified birth certificate 8/08, photos 12/1/08, application in 12/8/08, rec'd Dec 08)
22 Get Home Videos transferred to DVD (8/25/09)
23 Make major progress with organizing footlocker of photos
24 Get new computer (June 6, 2009...thanks, Steve!!!!!!)
25 Get external hard drive and backup computer (completed 1/07, scheduled regularly)
26 Frame "Knot"
27 Frame "Blue Nude"
28 Visit the graves of all family members I've known who have passed away
29 Release 5 books into the wild with Book Crossing
30 Volunteer for something non-kid-related (Ova Dreams, 3/29/09)
31 Give blood regularly (gave blood 12/28/06, 3/25/07)
32 Hike that trail off Rt 17 by Mirror Lake (done 7/13/09)
33 Spend the afternoon at the ocean, just me and a book
34 Walk to camp and back from my house
35 Swim five laps across pond at camp
36 Go on an overnight trip to somewhere I've never been. (Popham Beach, June 08--thanks Ro!)
37 Go bike riding
38 Go canoeing. Alone. (have done kayaking, April 08)
39 Watch a meteor shower (8/15/09, on the Evans)
40 Sunbathe. On the float. In a bathing suit. (8/1/09)
41 Have a poker night for the girls
42 Organize a girl's night out (Sushi Night, French Night, Italian Night)
43 Go to a play
44 Visit Montpelier
45 Visit the Conway House Museum
46 Tour the Farnsworth Homestead
47 Visit the Wyeth Center (Nov 07)
48 See Stomp! (9/27/08!!)
49 See a comedy show (7/18/09...Bob Marley)
50 Do a jigsaw puzzle. At least 500 pieces. (started 8/11/08)
51 Learn capitals of US states
52 Learn enough HTML to design my own blog template
53 Learn some graphic design
54 Learn how to can.
55 Learn to do something mechanical to my car (oil, spark plugs, something) (7/14/09, replaced brake pads & rotors on van, learned how to install hydraulic lifts on hood of Intrepid)
56 Make one of those photographic collages of single scene
57 48 consecutive hours with NO computer
58 Keep the inside of my car clean for four consecutive weeks (completed Dec 08)
59 Spend no money for one week. None. At all. (5/16-5/23/07...close e-freakin-nough)
60 Research and purchase a stock of some kind. To feel grown up.
61 Save $1000
62 Go to a movie by myself (The Dark Knight, 8/11/08)
63 Watch "The Notebook" with Mom
64 Read "War and Peace"
65 Add at least 20 books from my Book Wish List to home library (20/20)
66 Update my Book Wish List
67 Go to the library and check out all the books on Ro's list I haven't read (started Jan 07)
68 Make "movies I want to see someday" list & watch 10 of them (started list 12/29/06; 7/10)
69 Hook up DVD player and VCR in bedroom (um, Feb 09?)
70 Go camping with kids
71 Spend a day at the beach with the kids (Popham, 6/23/08)
72 Climb a mountain with the kids (5/24/08, Mt. Battie)
73 Get family photo done (taken summer 08 @ camp)
74 Beat Lego Star Wars I w/ the kids
75 Play more board games
76 Go bowling with the kids (08/08)
77 Take Mom for a pedicure
78 Go shopping & out to lunch w/ Lynn
79 Do something kickass for Mom & Dad's 40th anniversary (did huge lobster dinner at camp)
80 Take my dad out to dinner. Make him let me pay.
81 Get to 150 pounds
82 Start eating breakfast. Shoot for at least four times a week.
83 Take ONLY my prescribed meds for two weeks (achieved 1/10/07)
84 One month no alcohol, no fast food, no sweets (stopped alcohol 9/08)
85 Try one week of #84 first (achieved 1/4/07-1/11/07)
86 28 days in a row of drinking 64 ounces of water a day
87 Six consecutive weeks of exercise at least three times a week
88 Get a totally fabulous handbag and spend more than $30 on it (Michael Kors Signature Chestertown Large Hobo, usual retail $238, found at TJMaxx on clearance(!) for $79.99)
89 Find new "signature" earrings for upper holes (done 12/30/06--made my own)
90 Design a tattoo that I might actually consider getting
91 Go on two dates. With the same person. (5/25/07, 2nd date w/ Andrew)
92 Good Lord willing, get kissed (12:20am 11/18/07, Peter)
93 Seriously consider & research getting contacts (researched, priced, rejected idea)
94 Color my hair red (semipermanent color) (2/16/09, Malaysian Cherry)
95 Buy myself something in a store I've never been in before (Coldwater Creek, Feb 08)
96 Buy a fantastic little black dress. 4/24/09
97 Get a truly fantastic haircut (7/23/07)
98 Throw out all my "ugly" underwear (8/24/09)
99 Get rid of shoes I can't/don't wear. Even the gorgeous ones.
100 Cry, dammit. (5/23/07. Twice. And 5/24/07)
101 Organize/reevaluate 101 list on 1001st day; restart with new list. mk

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My 101 List

Starting Date: December 28, 2006
Finish Date: September 24, 2009

1 Put up fence
2 Build shed doors
3 Get rid of truck
4 Finish quilt
5 Clear out playroom
6 Paint ceiling in bedroom
7 Paint ceiling in hallway
8 Replace ceiling tiles in dining room
9 Paint bathroom
10 Finish design for foundation garden
11 Get a headboard for my bed
12 Install new walkway
13 Put a door that is not upside-down on the bathroom
14 Get beautiful pillows for living room. Ditch old ugly pillows.
15 Move the lilac bushes
16 Keep up with laundry for at least 2 consecutive weeks. Repeat.
17 Purge all the old magazines
18 Help a friend with a home-improvement project
19 Make out my will
20 Get living will notarized
21 Get a passport
22 Get Home Videos transferred to DVD
23 Make major progress with organizing footlocker of photos
24 Get new computer
25 Get external hard drive and backup computer
26 Frame "Knot"
27 Frame "Blue Nude"
28 Visit the graves of all family members I've known who have passed away
29 Release 5 books into the wild with Book Crossing
30 Volunteer for something non-kid-related
31 Give blood regularly
32 Hike that trail off Rt 17 by Mirror Lake
33 Spend the afternoon at the ocean, just me and a book
34 Walk to camp and back from my house
35 Swim five laps across pond at camp
36 Go on an overnight trip to somewhere I've never been.
37 Go bike riding
38 Go canoeing. Alone.
39 Watch a meteor shower
40 Sunbathe. On the float. In a bathing suit.
41 Have a poker night for the girls
42 Organize a girl's night out
43 Go to a play
44 Visit Montpelier
45 Visit the Conroy House Museum
46 Tour the Farnsworth Homestead
47 Visit the Wyeth Center
48 See Stomp
49 See a comedy show
50 Do a jigsaw puzzle. At least 500 pieces.
51 Learn capitals of US states
52 Learn enough HTML to design my own blog template
53 Learn some graphic design
54 Learn how to can.
55 Learn to do something mechanical to my car (oil, spark plugs, something)
56 Make one of those photographic collages of single scene
57 48 consecutive hours with NO computer
58 Keep the inside of my car clean for four consecutive weeks
59 Spend no money for one week. None. At all.
60 Research and purchase a stock of some kind. To feel grown up.
61 Save $1000
62 Go to a movie by myself
63 Watch "The Notebook" with Mom
64 Read "War and Peace"
65 Add at least 20 books from my Book Wish List to home library
66 Update my Book Wish List
67 Go to the library and check out all the books on Ro's list I haven't read
68 Make "movies I want to see someday" list & watch 10 of them
69 Hook up DVD player and VCR in bedroom
70 Go camping with kids
71 Spend a day at the beach with the kids
72 Climb a mountain with the kids
73 Get family photo done
74 Beat Lego Star Wars I w/ the kids
75 Play more board games
76 Go bowling with the kids
77 Take Mom for a pedicure
78 Go shopping & out to lunch w/ Lynn
79 Do something kickass for Mom & Dad's 40th anniversary
80 Take my dad out to dinner. Make him let me pay.
81 Get to 150 pounds
82 Start eating breakfast. Shoot for at least four times a week.
83 Take ONLY my prescribed meds for two weeks
84 One month no alcohol, no fast food, no sweets
85 Try one week of #84 first
86 28 days in a row of drinking 64 ounces of water a day
87 Six consecutive weeks of exercise at least three times a week
88 Get a totally fabulous handbag and spend more than $30 on it
89 Find new "signature" earrings for upper holes
90 Design a tattoo that I might actually consider getting
91 Go on two dates. With the same person.
92 Good Lord willing, get kissed
93 Seriously consider & research getting contacts
94 Color my hair red (semipermanent color)
95 Buy myself something in a store I've never been in before
96 Buy a fantastic little black dress.
97 Get a truly fantastic haircut
98 Throw out all my "ugly" underwear
99 Get rid of shoes I can't/don't wear. Even the gorgeous ones.
100 Cry, dammit.
101 Organize/reevaluate 101 list on 1001st day; restart with new list


Wednesday, December 27, 2006


In the final approach towards New Year's, it's time to contemplate goals and resolutions. Now, pretty much every year I make resolutions, and then I fall flat on my face with them. (a lot of that reason is that I just plain forget. My memory sucks these days.) So I wasn't going to make any resolutions this year. But then, I *like* making resolutions. I like having goals of some kind. And lists! I love making lists!

Well, in my travels in blogland, I came across an idea: 101 Things To Do in 1001 Days. It's pretty straightforward. You make a list of 101 things you'd like to accomplish. You have 1001 days to accomplish these things (that's almost 3 years). They don't have to be fancy. One of mine is to spend a day at the ocean with my kids. There are a ton of great sites that will help you calculate when the 1001 days is up. I used this one. I put in a start date of January 1st, mostly because I think it's going to take at least that long for me to come up with a list of 101 things I want to accomplish. So far I have, um, eleven.

So, my resolution for New Year's has become finish my list of 101 things! mk

p.s. If you google "101 things 1001 days" you will find lots of posts, which can give you ideas if you are stuck.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My Daughter Cannot Sing

One of the things I have learned as a result of my kids receiving iPods from Santa is that my daughter cannot sing. At all. I mean, she is BAD.

Also, she thinks that the lyrics to "Rich Girl" include: "if I were a broken girl."

I tried telling her what the actual lyrics are. So has Mark. She thinks we are wrong.

But boy, she is happy while she sings. And right now, she is as close to ecstasy as a seven-year-old should ever be, because she is singing along to her iPod WHILE using her *best* present.

And what could trump an iPod nano, already preloaded with alllllll your favorite songs, you ask? A whiteboard.

Yes, that's right. You know how kids will be asking for something all season long, BEGGING for it, and then two days before Christmas they will suddenly pull this thing out of a hat and you are foolish for not understanding that THIS was what they truly desired, this and only this? That's what Kira did with the whiteboard. More than life itself, my daughter wanted, nay, NEEDED, CRAVED a dry-erase board. So my parents did a last-minute switcharoo of a present they had intended and went out and got her an 18x22" whiteboard with markers and an eraser. That thing has not been out of her reach since she opened it. I woke up this morning to the smell of dry-erase markers, because she was sitting on the floor in my room, drawing on it. (and I think it is cruel how early kids get up on the day AFTER Christmas. C'mon, we just got up at an insanely early hour the previous morning, after pretty much not sleeping AT ALL Christmas Eve. Don't we get a break? No.)

Speaking of breaks, I did get a pretty good break the rest of the day. The kids played an hour or so on the PS2 this morning, then we mostly did the veg-out thing until early afternoon, when we got our thank-you notes finished up and in the mail. Then we watched a movie together, then more veg-out time. And now, oh boy, it's time to tuck Kira into bed.

Tomorrow will be a day of cleaning and getting the house in order. I'll probably leave the Christmas tree up for a few more days, although there are no promises. It could disappear at any moment.

So how long do you leave your tree up? Are you a day-after-Christmas person? A Christmas afternoon person? Ephiphany? New Year's? Whenever you get sick of it? (that last one is me.) Ro's is out already. How about you? mk

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Traditions

As I am madly running around trying to get everything in my house beautiful so I can go be somewhere else, I have been thinking about Christmas traditions. Everyone has them. Some are Norman Rockwell, caroling and baking cookies, others are a little more...unique...(no finger-pointing or anything), but each one "makes" Christmas what it is.

Some of the traditions that I grew up with:

*Stockings were always filled with things that could be found at 6:30pm on Christmas Eve at the convenience store. I think I was in high school before I realized that it was weird to get a 2-liter bottle of soda in your stocking. And maybe some duck tape.

*We had a looooooong, drawn-out ritual before we got downstairs to open gifts. First, after much begging, we were allowed to go downstairs long enough to get our Christmas stockings and bring them back upstairs to open. I always opened mine in my parents' room, and my sister opened hers in the guest room with Mammy, who stayed overnight with us every Christmas Eve. After we had ooohed and aahed over the stockings, we started bugging them to go downstairs. At which point Dad would say we should get dressed. And he needed to shave. He ALWAYS shaved first, before we were allowed to go downstairs. And it takes FOREVER for my dad to shave. I think it was the one day a year when I didn't want to watch or help him pick out his aftershave. I just wanted him to get it the hell over with so I could get downstairs.

*We didn't open presents until everyone had coffee, and Dad always wanted to have breakfast first, but was firmly vetoed by everyone. Loudly.

*There was always a trash can put in the living room for used wrapping paper. A trash CAN. And I mean one of the big silver galvanized ones. Eventually we wore Dad down to just having a couple of strategically located 33-gallon heavy-duty garbage bags, but I think that was when I was in college.

* We open gifts one at a time. No mad mass-unwrappings for our house. And if Dad was "playing Santa" he would take about five minutes just to read a tag. It went something like: "TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO........................ marrrrrrkiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiraaaaaaaaaaa...................... Frooooooooooooooooooom......... Saaaaaaaaaaaantaaaaaaaa." Only drawn out longer. And then I could get the present and open it. And show everyone. And then neatly take care of every scrap of wrapping paper. And then he would consider the tree for awhile, and finally pick up another gift. And eventually start reading the tag. Once both of their children started exhibiting signs of major psychoses, Mom took over playing Santa.

*Christmas Eve always means Dad's Punch. Which is made with Canada Dry gingerale, ZaRex, and rainbow sherbert. That stuff is yummy. And too much of it gives you a stomachache. Which I re-discover every year. Which reminds me that I need to call Mom and make sure we're having it. Mark in particular absolutely COUNTS on this tradition, and will be DEVASTATED if we don't have it. Dad now lets him help make it. [whew. Mom's way ahead of me. She's got the stuff.]

What are some of YOUR traditions?

OK. I am really, really, really putting off getting stuff done. At this rate I will not be ready to go when the kids come home. Somebody smack me away from this computer. mk

Special Talents

The majority of my friends and family exhibit special talents that are specific to their relationship with me.

My mother's special talent is calling me while I'm in the bathroom. It is invariable. And not while I'm brushing my hair or something else that is easily interruptible, either. She developed this special talent at the precisely the moment that my children outgrew the talent of desperately NEEEEEEEDING me RIGHTNOWMOMMY the second I was indisposed.

My friend Ro's special talent (besides having a freakish amount of things in common with me) seems to be checking my blog at exactly two minutes before *I* check my hit counter to see if she's checked my blog. Really. I am not making that up.

My sister's special talent is telephoning me at the exact moment that I start tucking my kids into bed. It doesn't matter if I happen to be late doing so, or start early, or what. The phone will ring, and it will be her.

My father's special talent is appearing, either live in person or via telephone, at moments where I am neglecting the guidelines he taught me growing up. The absolute best example of this was when I was in college. I was driving home for the weekend, it was nasty ucky weather, and I needed gas for the truck. So I pulled in to a gas station at (*gasp!) the FULL SERVICE pump. This gas station was located FORTY-FIVE MINUTES away from my parents' home. I'm searching for money, and a tap at my window, I look up and HOLY SH*T, it's MY DAD. Who then redirects me to the *self-serve* pumps, so I can save that ten cents a gallon. That I was totally prepared to pay so I wouldn't have to stand out there in the freezing rain/sleet pumping gas. That I ended up doing anyway, along with losing about ten years of my life from the freakout.

There are other friends with other talents, but I have been interrupted now by one of my mother's other talents, which is somehow knowing when I am goofing off instead of getting the things done around the house that I absolutely need to be doing, and calling me to tell me to get my butt moving. Which she has just done. And the guilt is now driving me off the blog to go clean. sigh. mk

***Ro: Do NOT stop checking my blog. I know you are now worried that you check it too much. You don't. Really. I just think it's cool, and another of our hilarious freaky-vibe-things that we're on at the same time. mk

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Day of the Dead

I am just so wiped out today. I've taken TWO two-hour naps, and I'm still drained and ready to go to bed momentarily.

I had a lot of plans for the day to get things in the house in some kind of order, especially the kids' rooms, but I just couldn't gather the energy to do it. So instead we had a downtime day. Which, upon reflection, was probably at least as needed. The kids and I have all been running, running, running. Mark doesn't have any homework over vacation, and didn't have any on Thursday night either, which I think is just wonderful for him. He had a good time at Luka's last night, but he's been grumpy off and on all day today, I just know his exhaustion is catching up with him. He completely denies it, but his eyes are a bit glassy like they get when he's tired.

Kira's been charming and cuddly today, but not VelcroChild. She slept in my bed last night, and amazingly enough did not try to take over the entire bed like she usually does. Thank goodness. Although another part of me missed it.

So tomorrow I'll get the house put together somewhat, and get the dips made, and get everything ready to go to my parents' house when the kids get home around 4:30.

But for right now, bed. Reading for a little while first, but I bet I'll be passed out asleep by 8. mk

Friday, December 22, 2006

He. Did. It. AGAIN.

So, I went to school for the sixth-grade party (which was tons of fun, more on that later). I ended up staying until the end of the school day (it was a half-day today). So I asked Mark if he wanted to come home with me or go home on the bus. He said me. So I sent him down to the first grade to collect Kira, and they both came back to the sixth-grade room. After a couple of minutes I looked around, and no more Mark. And again with the school-wide hunt.

He went home on the bus.

I think his principal must think I am AWFUL. I keep losing my kid. That's twice this week that she knows of, and that's just at the school.

His teacher had offered to drop off his stuff that he had left behind so that I could get home before the bus got there. When she came along, I had told Mark he was to apologize to her for putting her out of her way. He kinda tossed it out when he answered the door, I think it possibly got lost. *I* heard it, but I was specifically listening for it. I'm not even sure he had the door all the way open when he said it. [Did you hear it, Ro? It wasn't particularly sincere, though.]

Well, she came bearing "presents." She checked his locker to make sure there wasn't anything he would need over the vacation, and she found a ziploc baggie of....well....Mark *said* they were oranges. From a basketball game. A few weeks ago. All I saw was a lot of furry green and black. It was NASTY. She said she brought it along because she didn't think I would believe her if she just told me about it. *I* think she just wanted to share that wonderful experience, and I don't blame her one little iota. I mean, it was seriously gross. That must have been absolutely disgusting to discover unexpectedly.

Speaking of unexpected, I got a MUCH more pleasant surprise just a little bit ago. FedEx came roaring into my driveway, delivered a pretty big box. I didn't have anything ordered, so I was very curious. Turned out, it was a box from X's dad & stepmom, containing presents for the kids AND a present for me! I was really surprised they sent the kids' presents to my house and not to X's. Who knows, maybe there are more that are going there. Probably not, though.

Anyway, we totally opened them. I was going to be all proper and restrained and wait until Christmas, but nope. (admit: a not-so-tiny part of me really really wants the kids to tell X about the presents. I wish there was some way to subtly let him know that they still sign cards & stuff to me personally as from "Dad & Joanie.")

So, the kids' Uncle Chris sent Mark a Lego kit of some kind (he disappeared upstairs with it so fast, I didn't really get to see it) and gave Kira a Polly Pocket Getaway Jet set, which she is playing with behind me. Dad and Joanie gave Mark some cash (he was wowed by that) and gave Kira a Talbot Kids hoodie sweater with polka dots sewn all over it. Totally cute. She's got it on.

*I* got a gorgeous silver circles Talbots bracelet. (<== it's shown here with a necklace.) I love it. Got it on right now. It's extremely comfortable.

So we'll be writing thank-you notes in a little while.

It's been a pretty good day. I had such fun at the school. The party ended up happening in halves, with the first half (opening of Secret Santa presents) happening before gym, and the second half (food & just general fun) after. For gym, the sixth grade combined with the fifth grade and we played jailball (which is a form of dodgeball, using veryverysoft foam balls). Yes, WE played. The fifth grade outnumbers the sixth by quite a lot, so they needed all the help they could get. It was really fun. I hadn't played it before, but had heard about it. The fifth graders were ruthless. I had about six or seven of them gunning for me all the time. :D

OK, well, I've got about two hours before I need to take Mark to Luka's dad's for the overnight. I guess the "party" is ending up being Luka, Mark & Eddie. The original buddies. I hope they have a good time.

Speaking of good time, Mark is hooting and hollering up in his room about the Lego thing from Chris. He wants me to go up and look at it. Kira's "flying" her Polly Pocket plane up the stairs to look, so I guess I'm off, too. mk

Update: So D. called me later and asked me if I had gotten a box with the kids' presents in it, because they'd been waiting for it. I said yes, it had the kids' and my present. She kinda skimmed over that and said she wondered why they had it delivered to my house, they've never done that before. So I agreed, and said that usually I just get my present. (again with the no response.) So I got to say it after all! Bwahahahahahaaa. I think they were thinking the box got delivered to me by mistake. Guess again. mk

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Championship Game

Well, the boys lost tonight. It was a close game, even closer than the score indicated (42-35). The boys played their hearts out, and it was a really exciting game to watch. It was disappointing to see them lose, but I'd rather have the loss be a close game where the teams were pretty evenly matched, than a lopsided game.

The biggest bummer for me was that the other team got a technical foul. This was the moment that Mark has been waiting for since his injury, his only chance to be out on the court during a game. Unfortunately, because the game was so close, the coach chose to put in his top foul shooter** instead (who, by the way, came in second in the league in the foul-shooting competition tonight). I understand his choice, but it was a big disappointment. Mark took it extraordinarily well, though, and it really made me proud to see Mark immediately cheering Max on for the shots. I think that was both my best and worst moment of the game.

I've been so proud of Mark during his time on the injured list. He's gone to every practice, every game, he's cheered his teammates on, he's had a great attitude, and every chance he's had, he's gotten out on the court. I've seen a significant improvement in his ball-handling skills, as well as his overall confidence with the ball and the court in general. It occurred to me that Mark hasn't had a lot of time to just *play* on a basketball court and get comfortable with it. He's had some practices with the Y youth basketball program, and games, but it's not the same as just being able to free-play out there. And bouncing the ball around the dirt-and-gravel driveway at home is definitely not the same. But he's really done a great job this season, and I'm just very proud of him. He's a really great kid (even when he frustrates me to DEATH). I'm very fortunate in my children.

In other news...I did much running around today, including a visit to my parents', a hunt for blue soccer socks (the boys all wore them for the game, an additional solidarity thing) and an incidental find of shiny bright blue Mardi Gras beads, which I purchased a bazillion of and passed out to the team moms to wear (and mine are now hanging from my rearview mirror). In the short time I was home between all that and getting to Brownies, I got a message on my machine that the orthopedist had to reschedule Mark's appointment, so he has to wear the cast for an extra three days. Damn. Mark was pretty ripped, he's more than ready to get it off N-O-W. Can't say as I blame him. Well, he's still getting it off before the team pizza party, although now it's a matter of a couple of hours before instead of a few days. :D

Fun news for me, Ro is coming over tomorrow night after her husband gets home from work. This'll be our first chance to really "hang out" together, and it should be *lots* of fun. I had a BLAST sitting with her at the game tonight. I'm chillin' the Smirnoff Triple Black, Ro! (and I might even get that laundry basket off the couch.)

Tomorrow morning I'm getting together with my sister. We weren't exactly sure what we were going to do, but at Dad's suggestion we're going over to the folks' house (folks may or may not be home, that remains to be seen) and Lynn's going to help me assemble Mark's big present. That'll be great, because it needs to be put together, and Lynn will really like having a part in it. Dad's gonna have some tools ready for me, although I'll probably bring my own as well, just in case. (Just in case what, I have no idea, since Dad has pretty much every tool under the sun, in quadruplicate at least.) Note to self: I really, REALLY need to take the trash to the dump before I go pick her up. I really don't think I can fit one more scrap of anything into the trash. It's pathetic, really.

OK, I'm gonna get off here and go climb into jammies and try to relax a bit. It's been a long day, and I've got a great big huge knot in my left trapezius muscle that is sore and burning. Later. mk

** At Sunday's practice the team had a foul-shooting contest to see who would compete in tonight's competition. Max won. However, MARK, who is the youngest boy on the team and had on a CAST, came in second!! Go Mark!!! mk

Monday, December 18, 2006

Oh. My. GOSH. I might just have to kill him.

So Mark had practice right after school. He didn't tell me what time it was getting done, so I figured 4:30. Just in case it was only an hour (and also because I wanted to chat w/ his teacher for a while), I went a little early. I was there at about quarter of.

Ro and I were chatting along, and I look out the window and see Evan getting into a car, so I figured practice was over, so I went out to get Mark. The gym was dark. Mark was not in the hallway. Neither was he standing outside on the sidewalk waiting for me. Ro paged him to the office (after a false start in which she couldn't say his full name without laughing). No response. I called the house. No answer. Left a message. By this point the principal and another teacher are also helping out. They're looking up the assistant coach's number, getting ready to call it, and my cell rings. It's Mark. He caught a ride with one of the moms because "I looked for your car but didn't see it." It was RIGHT THERE. In the SAME SPOT I ALWAYS PARK.

The child may not live to be a teenager. mk

Some of my Favorite Christmas Carols

I'm boppin' along to some of my Christmas music this morning (I've got 11 hours of it on my iPod, almost 200 songs) and decided to list some of my favorite stuff. In no particular order:

"Pat-a-Pan" (I have this acoustically on a CD called Midnight Clear...just love this)
"Christmas Don't Be Late" by Alvin and the Chipmunks (for limited playings)
"Little Drummer Boy"
"O Holy Night"
"What Child Is This"
"Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!"
"Sleigh Ride"
"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
"Carol of the Bells"
Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker"
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" (again with the limited playing, though)

And I admit that "The Christmas Shoes" by NewSong will choke me up a little, although I do have to agree with another blogger's recent observation that this kid's mom is dying that night and he's at the mall??? That has possibly tainted the song for me.

OK, I'm avoiding housework (again), so I *guess* I'd better get back to it (kicking feet in protest).

What's some of *your* favorite Christmas music? mk

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Top 100 Movies Meme

Top 100 Movies

Take this list of the top 100 movies from the IMDB and bold the movies you have seen. (I'm not sure where this is originally from). This list is from May 2004.

1. Godfather, The (1972)
2. Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)
3. Godfather: Part II, The (1974)
4. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003)
5. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002)
6. Schindler's List (1993)
7. Shichinin no samurai (1954)
8. Casablanca (1942)
9. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
10. Star Wars (1977)
11. Citizen Kane (1941)
12. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
13. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
14. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
15. Rear Window (1954)
16. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
17. Pulp Fiction (1994)
18. Usual Suspects, The (1995)
19. Memento (2000)
20. North by Northwest (1959)
21. 12 Angry Men (1957)
22. Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966)
23. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
24. Psycho (1960)
25. Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le (2001)
26. Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
27. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
28. Goodfellas (1990)
29. American Beauty (1999)
30. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
31. Vertigo (1958)
32. Matrix, The (1999)
33. Cidade de Deus (2002)
34. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
35. C'era una volta il West (1968)
36. Apocalypse Now (1979)
37. Pianist, The (2002)
38. Third Man, The (1949)
39. Paths of Glory (1957)
40. Taxi Driver (1976)
41. Fight Club (1999)
42. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)
43. Some Like It Hot (1959)
44. Double Indemnity (1944)
45. Boot, Das (1981)
46. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
47. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
48. Chinatown (1974)
49. L.A. Confidential (1997)
50. Maltese Falcon, The (1941)
51. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
52. All About Eve (1950)
53. M (1931)
54. Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)
55. Se7en (1995)
56. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
57. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
58. Rashômon (1950)
59. Raging Bull (1980)
60. Wizard of Oz, The (1939)
61. Alien (1979)
62. American History X (1998)
63. Sting, The (1973)
64. Léon (1994)
65. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
66. Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)
67. Vita è bella, La (1997)
68. Touch of Evil (1958)
69. Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)
70. Finding Nemo (2003)
71. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
72. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
73. Great Escape, The (1963)
74. Modern Times (1936)
75. Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
76. Amadeus (1984)
77. On the Waterfront (1954)
78. Ran (1985)
79. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
80. Annie Hall (1977)
81. Wo hu cang long (2000)
82. Jaws (1975)
83. Apartment, The (1960)
84. Braveheart (1995)
85. High Noon (1952)
86. Aliens (1986)
87. Fargo (1996)
88. Strangers on a Train (1951)
89. Shining, The (1980)
90. Metropolis (1927)
91. Blade Runner (1982)
92. Sixth Sense, The (1999)
93. City Lights (1931)
94. Donnie Darko (2001)
95. Duck Soup (1933)
96. Great Dictator, The (1940)
97. General, The (1927)
98. Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957)
99. Princess Bride, The (1987)
100. Dogville (2003)

Wrap Day!

OK, I have vowed to get all the wrapping done today. I've brought down the "special Santa paper", and my bed is currently sorting central. I have presents divided by person, and have "test-driven" the stockings (which are satisfyingly full). However, I am now in a panic over the meager pile of presents to each kid. I *knowknowknow* I need to just leave it alone, because I have spent plenty of money on each, and there is one superfantasticamazing present that they are going to DIE over (and I won't mention it here because they might accidentally see the blog), so I just have to STOP ALREADY and just wrap what's there and be DONE WITH IT.

I've looked at my spreadsheet again (yes, I know, I have a spreadsheet that lists all the presents and how much money I've spent...shut up.) and I feel slightly better about it, so I might be able to go back upstairs and actually do the wrapping. I might need to come back down and look at the spreadsheet a few more times to remind myself that I'm good.

What IS this beating myself up that I haven't done enough? It's not like my children are anything close to deprived. I do things for them all year round. I put a lot of effort, as a matter of fact, to make sure that they *aren't* deprived. During the summer (lawn sale season), my parents are constantly giving my kids amazing things (that quite honestly I could not even come close to being able to afford if we were paying retail). Each of them have overflowing closets and bureaus of quality clothing, tons of toys. They have an XBox, a PS2, AND each their own GameBoy, not to mention each a CD boombox and a handheld CD player, so they've got the "electronics" covered. They are enveloped in love, both verbal and nonverbal. Christmas is one day. It should not be elevated to the degree that it has been, where it is pretty much implied that this is the only day you can express your love and value of someone, and that it is directly tied to how much "stuff" is under the tree.

Intellectually, I know all of this. Yet, yet, I still feel the pressure to shower my kids with an avalanche of goodies, to somehow show them the overwhelming, overflowing love that is in my heart. I want oooooohs, and aaaaaaaahs, and WOW! Fireworks.

But which is better? Showy displays, or the quiet certaintude of unconditional love? I don't want my children to learn that things express love. I want the "real" things to count. Actions speak louder than words, but which actions? One day a year of wow, or 52 weeks of showing up to all the games, spontaneous hugs, special outings, nightly tuck-ins, etc.?

OK. I feel better. Back upstairs to wrap. mk

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Kid ramble

So, exactly as expected, once Mark got home last night he went directly upstairs and plugged in to the Internet on his laptop, and has pretty much spent every waking moment there since (well, except for our Friday night TV "date" of Ghost Whisperer/Close to Home/Numb3rs) He did sleep in this morning (desperately needed, the poor kid has got to be exhausted, although he claims he's fine). But after he made a brief appearance for breakfast, he disappeared back up to his room. I hear Weird Al videos going up there. Right now it's Amish Paradise. He's having a lot of fun.

I hooked him up with a kid account on Hotmail, that I can monitor. He's emailed his friend Luka, who is currently living in South Africa, but is actually flying back to Maine today for Christmas break. This is Luka's second move to South Africa. The boys have been friends since kindergarten, although it started to get a little rocky last year. Luka started getting to be a bit of a bully, and he directed a bunch at Mark. *I* think a lot of it has to do with how well Mark gets along with other people, and it threatened Luka, who always wanted to be the leader. But anyway, Luka's coming home for a week or so, and I guess there's a party at Luka's dad's on Friday (Luka's mom moved to SA, his dad stayed here). I hope I'll have a chance to see Tet while she's here, she's great and I miss her, although we aren't super close.

Kira was doing a "workout" this morning. She dragged out my exercise mat, a couple of light hand weights and a toning band and was getting all into it. I love how she's got such a great focus on being healthy, she and Mark both really have remarkable interest in making good eating choices and staying active. Yesterday after practice we stayed a little while and shot some hoops [note to self: next time, sneakers would be a better choice for footwear than sandals], and Kira was right there with us. She even made a basket (with the hoop at full height, no less). I'm looking forward to getting her into the Y program for basketball next year. And this spring she wants to move up from T-ball to regular baseball. Maybe I'll even get ambitious this fall and let her do soccer, since there won't be *as* much running around for me with Mark on the school soccer team. It's such a challenge to get two different kids to two different practices (or worse, games) at pretty much the same time. The worst part is trying to decide whose game to watch.

Kira's going to the movies this afternoon with Angel (the little girl who just lost her mom). Angel's moving to Florida the day after Christmas, and she's trying to get individual playdates in with all of her friends before she leaves. Tuesday is her last Brownie meeting with us (and as an added wrench for poor Patti, I have to leave early because that's the day of the basketball championship).

Well, I think I'm gonna go check out making some chicken salad for lunch so it'll have a chance to chill. Although we have enough leftover Sonora Chicken Pasta to feed us for days, so it would probably make more sense to just make up some garlic bread and have our big meal at noon today (since Kira won't be here for dinner). hmmm. I'll go poll the kids. Later. mk

Friday, December 15, 2006

Santa's Phone Number

Got hooked up with Santa's phone number today. It's 1-800-972-6242. Well, it's actually a recording from Santa ('cause he's a little busy this time of year, you know), but his message changes every day. He starts leaving messages on December 13th until the 24th each year.

I called the number, and I liked it enough that I forwarded it to all my friends w/ kids via email, and am posting it here. Kira just got done listening to it, and I'm pretty sure we'll be calling again tomorrow.

So check it out. mk

Later addition: Santa's phone number seems to be out of order. MAJOR bummer. Wonder what happened with that one. mk

Because, Hi? Amanda? I see you.

OK, from the location, the search term, and the fact that this person is actually reading multiple parts of my blog, I suspect that D's sister has discovered my blog. And coincidentally, she has seen some unflattering pieces where I slam X (and D, a little). So because if it were me, my next move would be to alert my sister as to the location of this blog, I have put it so only invited individuals can see it. Of course, right now that's a grand three people, because a couple of people who've read me, I don't have email addresses for. So anyway, if you're one of my "invitees," I'm only going to leave it like this for about a week or so, in the hopes that it will frustrate them when they can't access it and they'll give up.

OR, I could just be totally paranoid and there's someone ELSE at UMaine Orono who was searching blogs for my kids' names and decided I was such a stunning writer that they'd read it all. Uh huh. mk

K. I'm going back online. I've added all the disclaimers I've been neglecting. See sidebar. :D mk

Because I'm Mean That Way

Mark's teacher was asking her class questions, and they had to write the answers down on scraps of paper. Mark's answer to "What instrument is used to measure atmospheric pressure?" (which, by the way, he also read out loud to the class):

He has absolutely forbidden me to tell anyone, and in particular I am NOT allowed to post this to my blog. So here it is. :D

Boys won the semifinals last night. Championship game on Tuesday.

Right after the game, kids and I went to AnnB's house so I could work on school volunteer group stuff. We put together 40 fruit bags for staff members, with accompanying cards signed, and made about 100 sugar cookies for Craft Day next week. Plus Ann had a wonderful little spread of food, I got a couple of yummy recipes that I think I'm going to do for Christmas Eve at my parents' house. Crostini with Sundried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese Spread, and a Chutney Dip were my favorites. We got home around 8:45 and then Mark still had shower & homework to do (I took pity on my little zombie girl and let her skip shower and go right to bed. Mark, for the good of all mankind, really had to shower.) He got to go to sleep somewhere around 10:15. Good thing today's Friday and we can all sleep in tomorrow!!

I'm dead tired. Think I'm gonna go crawl onto the couch with a book or something for awhile. Dinner tonight will be Sonora Chicken Pasta with Garlic Bread. There. I accomplished something, I planned dinner. mk

Oh, and I fixed my sink yesterday. It required a little more work than expected, including some pipe cutting and stuff (man, I need a decent hacksaw), but it's all good now. Altogether under $5 in parts, including the new flange pipe tailpiece. Anyone want to guess what a plumber would have charged?

And I'm pretty sure I've narrowed the problem with my car down to the ignition switch. It was doing new and fun things yesterday morning which helped in this assessment. mk

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Quarterfinal Win!

Boys won their quarterfinal game tonight, 50-44. Semifinals are tomorrow night. I actually kept the score book for the other team for the game, first time I've done that. There's a lot to keep track of! But boy, I learned a lot more about the game in a short time. :)

Today's been pretty busy. I had a minute to figure out what the leak in my kitchen sink was, and Dad picked up a part while Mom and I were out doing some Christmas stocking shopping, and now I just have to install it. Car also caused me some trouble today, but I managed to trick it into starting, and it is temporarily behaving itself again. Picked up the cables I need to install Internet in Mark's room. Also got the stuff I need for teacher gifts. I'm making up little packages of popcorn cobs, which I got at a local farm stand. They're really cool, you put the entire cob in a small paper bag and put it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes, it pops right off the cob. So I'm bundling the cobs with a paper bag, wrapping it all in raffia twine with instructions. It's fun.

Oh, and first thing right off this morning, Kira forgot her shoes. So she calls me when I'm right out of the shower, and I needed to go bring them to her *right then*, because today is Santa Lucia Day**, and the procession at school started at 9, and it would have really sucked if she had to do it in her extremely bright pink snowboots. (They're supposed to wear as much white as possible....Kira had on a white peasant skirt and a very pale blue short-sleeved sweater.) While I was at it I delivered a pile of coats and stuff I had for the Coats for Kids drive the Student Council is putting on. (and yay! that stuff is out of the van finally!)

**Santa Lucia Day is a national holiday in the Scandinavian countries, a Festival of Light. It is celebrated on December 13, and is dedicated to St. Lucy. Girls wear white (boys, too, if they can), and are supposed to have candles in their hair (although we don't do that here). They proceed through the school singing a song and distributing special cookies to each classroom. (only grades K-2, I think, do this at our school....they deliver to the rest of the classes.)

Anyway, now I'm off for a break. Will check in later or something. mk

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Spending

Well, I'm getting ready to take the kids and my sister Christmas shopping this afternoon, and as a part of that I needed to do my own compilation of what I've gotten for presents so far this year. I keep a running list each year of what I've gotten and how much I've spent for the kids. In roughing it out for the first time, I'm amazed to find that I am within $6 of having spent the same amount on each kid, and have purchased the same number of gifts for each. Because of the logistics of some of the gift-giving requirements I hold in my head, however, two of Kira's list are going to be combined into one gift, and she's the $6 short anyway, so I'm gonna pick something up for $6 and then it'll all be even.

I know I'm a little obsessive this way, and let me tell you, it's a real trick to even out gifts for an 11 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. Everything the 11 year old wants is expensive. So it would be very easy to have a few gifts for Mark and a million for Kira and have spent the same amount of money. But I really want them to have the same *number* of presents, too, so Mark usually gets a few little "trinket" gifts to balance out one "bigger" gift of Kira's. They get pretty much the same things in their stockings, so the $ works out there. All told I'm spending a little less than $200 per kid, including stockings.

The idea has been to downsize. When I was still married, Christmas was insane. Each kid got more than 30 presents, and it was just crazy. On our home videos, we captured the last Christmas with X, and you literally couldn't see the floor in the living room, there were so many presents. After the opening, there's a shot of Mark standing behind his pile of gifts, and you pretty much couldn't see him, it was such a mountain. I flinch every time I even think about that kind of excess. I've cut way, WAY back, but I've had to do it a little at a time so there isn't so much shell-shock. Now I'm down to less than 10 gifts per kid each year, and one of those is a "big" gift from me (usually about $30-40) and another is a "big/cool" gift from Santa (he *always* gives the most fun gift). There's usually a joint gift of a video or two. And then a few little playthings.

I'm curious as to how much money other people spend on their kids for Christmas. And do you try to make the money equal, or the number of presents equal, or both, or neither? mk

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nonsense Ramblings

Well, just about everybody in my little blogworld is sick. I do not actually have this flu that is going around (and please wash your hands before you come near me, okay?). I *am* however, PMS'ing in a major way, and today I think I am pretty much eating the world. Yes, the entire world. In fact, if you tune in to your local Emergency Broadcast System, you will notice that there is an evacuation warning for your area because I should be eating your town in about a half an hour.

Now mind you, there isn't any decent food in my house, so I haven't even been enjoying this ceaseless binge. Neither have I been able to stop myself. Among many, MANY other things today, I think I've eaten half of the monstrously large bag of organic herbal popcorn I brought home from a Brownie meeting a few weeks ago (that says right on it: 'for your health, and the health of the planet'...for the PLANET, mind you! That is powerful popcorn.) And each time I go back for some more, I have this little mental dialogue going on: you don't want this, you're not even hungry, what the hell are you doing, for god's sake stop it, just stop it and the PMS just says back: feed me. feed me NOW and I might not turn you into a raving horror show this month. And the PMS wins, because, really, you can't argue with it, it will just get you back by turning you into the Exorcist girl, although it's probably going to do that anyway, but on the off chance that a sacrifice will appease it...gimme the popcorn.

I *am* cooking a fairly good dinner tonight, which I haven't done in forever. I like to blame it on basketball season, but really, there have been a whole lot of nights just like this one, where I could cook dinner in between the time I drop off and pick up Mark from practice. But tonight, we feast! I'm making stuffed pork chops. Burned the hell out of my hands while I was doing it, of course. You know, boiling hot stuffing, bare hands. Idiot. Klutzo. But it's going to be yummy. And I'm not even allowing myself to listen to Kira whining, "But I haaaaaaaaaaate stuffing!" I *know* she hates stuffing. But y'know what? I LOVE stuffing, and I'm gonna make it anyway! HA!

My Christmas cards are finally out. Finished 'em up yesterday and had Kira stick 'em in the mailbox this morning. Usually I have them out right after Thanksgiving, but this year has been weird for me. I'm not even done with my shopping. Which I absolutely need to finish this week. sigh. I also have to take my sister to finish her shopping, and the kids have some to do.....blah!

The tree is up, though, and decorated. We have a faux tree this year, picked it up on clearance last year after XMas, and it is a spectacular fake, let me tell you. The kids came home from X's last night and the tree was all up. Mark was sitting there, looking at it, and he sighed and said, "I'm so glad we get a real tree." At which point I had to break it to him: "It's not real." He got up and put his hands all over it before he believed me, at which point he then tried to recover: "Well, from a *distance*...." ["Distance! You had to TOUCH IT."]

The kids do the tree decorating each year. And every year, leading up to the getting of the tree, I am afraid that I do not have enough ornaments, because the total ornaments for my tree fits into one handled basket, about medium-breadbox-size. And every year, the kids put them on, and it looks beautiful. This year no exception. (And with the added bonus of no guilt over never remembering to water the tree!)

OK, I need to make sure that dinner is not burning or anything, because I am in such need of a real home-cooked meal tonight that if I frig this up I might just cry. And then I need to go get Mark from practice so we can *eat* this meal. mk

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Party Palace...the Aftermath

Well, today is Kira's birthday, and she had a party this afternoon. Total of eight little girls, two hours. It was a "daytime pajama party," so all the girls were in their pajamas. We had three different crafts (decorating craft foam 3-D snowflakes, decorating sleep masks that I made, and decorating pillowcases), cake and ice cream, opening of presents, a story (Froggy's Sleepover) and games. And that's just what we had time for. I had another craft and several more games lined up "in case," along with toenail painting that we didn't get to. Each girl brought home her sleep mask, pillowcase, snowflake, and a "goodie box" that had nail polish & lip gloss in it. (I love the dollar store.) Mark was my "assistant" and he was a huge help. Early in he disappeared upstairs for a minute and reappeared wearing the outfit below. The girls loved it. There were really no major mishaps during the party, it went really well. I think everyone had a great time. I know Kira did.

Her friend India is spending the night with her at X's house, and due to a complication with India's mom's schedule today, it worked out that India just stayed here after the party. That has actually worked out well for me, because they're amusing themselves very very well (and quietly, amazingly enough). Mark is going to MarkS's for an overnight, and everyone should be out of here around 7, which is about 45 minutes from now. I am seriously considering a pitcher of daiquiris at that point, however.

Tomorrow the Christmas tree goes up. sigh. mk

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"My Alphabet" Tag

I was tagged by Beast Mom!

A- Available or single? Single. Not really looking, either.

B- Best Friend? My mom.

C- Cake or Pie? Pie, I suppose.

D- Drink of Choice? Lemonade.

E- Essential Item? Books.

F- Favorite Color? Dark brown.

G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Bears.

H- Hometown? Rockland, Maine.

I- Indulgence? Um. Lemme think about it.

J- January or February? January. I don't know why.

K- Kids and names? Mark and Kira

L- Life is incomplete without? My kids.

M- Marriage Date? August 15, 1994.

N- Number of Siblings? One.

O- Oranges or apples? Apples.

P- Phobias/Fears? People. Heights. Fire. Bats.

Q- Favorite Quote? "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." (Will Smith)

R- Reason to Smile? See: kids

S- Season? Fall

T- Tag three people! Well, can't be Beast Mom, since she tagged me, and I think Elise is the only other one I know who reads me. So, Elise, and two random people. :D

U- Unknown fact about Me! I shoplifted once. In Alaska. Thirteen years ago. A magnet. Did not get caught. And have been plagued with guilt ever since. (and I had never, ever, ever told someone until just now. Please do not ever mention it to me.)

V- Vegetable you hate? Cooked spinach, although I like it raw in salads.

W- Worst habit? Binge eating.

X- X-rays you've had? Teeth. And wrists (carpal tunnel).

Y- Your favorite food? Mexican

Z- Zodiac? Cancer


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holiday Concerts

You just have to love the holiday concerts at the school. It took me a few years to really get the hang of getting the most out of them. The first one, of course, you are just so darn proud of your kid that they could just stand there and you would applaud wildly. Remembering *any* of the words, much less singing at the right tempo and/or on key is alllllll bonus.

The next few are usually not as much fun. In fact, depending on the program, it can seem like a small dose of torture. It used to be at our school that the kids would perform all their songs in their class at once, and pretty much in order. The last few years, they've stopped doing that, because they were noticing that a lot of people were bailing out as soon as their kid was done performing (I admit, I did that once. But it was because I was supposed to be at a class, and I was late. Really. Although getting out of the rest of the concert was a good bonus.) Now they mix it up. The beginner band performs, then the chorus, then a group sings a song (they combine grades for songs--K & 1, 2 &amp; 3, 4 & 5...6 & up is the chorus). Then later that same group comes up and sings another song. Because your kid is going to be performing again later, you stay for the whole thing. On the other hand, the concert also lasts about twice as long because of the groups filing on and off the risers (and of course, each one has to have an introduction).

But now I've got the hang of it. Basically, you just find the funny. There is usually a lot of funny going on at these concerts. The little kids are especially good fodder for the funny. They squirm around in their seats, wave at their parents during the concert, one little girl usually blows kisses, sometimes they fall out of their's all good. Tonight we got especially good funny during the K&1 performance of "Jingle Bells."

The front row of kids were given bells as they filed onto the risers, and they were "hiding" them from the audience (like none of us could hear). There was much giggling. The song started out pretty good, as far as little-kid-choral-singing goes. Everybody was more or less together, you could make out most of the words, it vaguely followed the tune. Then they got to the chorus, and the front row whipped out their bells (surprise!) and started madly shaking them. And the entire thing went to hell. Three dozen kids singing "Jingle Bells" and not a one of them was singing at the same tempo as any other. It was hysterical. And they were really belting it out, too. Got to the end of the chorus, the music director was somehow able to gather them back into some semblence of singing order for the next verse. Then again with the chorus, and once again, mayhem.

They got the biggest applause of the whole evening.

Mark got special mention at the concert as part of the intermediate band. Music director was introducing them and talking about how hard they all worked, and then she said how one of her members suffered an injury and had to switch instruments at the last minute, and learn it all in three days. She said, "I'm talking, of course, about Mr. Mark," and Mark gave a little wave with his cast from the back row where he was now doing percussion. He gave 'em hell on those sleigh bells, too, let me tell you. :P

Overall, it was as fun as a holiday concert at school can get, although I was a little tired of the place after having spent four hours at the school this morning volunteering at the book fair. And tomorrow I get to go back for a basketball game. And Thursday back again for a Brownie meeting. Sigh. mk

Mark & Kira after the concert tonight.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Endless Frustration of Children

You just have to LOVE how it honestly never occurs to them to tell you something until the absolute very last minute, because all children believe their parents are complete magicians, able to conjur anything up to (and possibly including) an elephant at whim.

Found out tonight (toNIGHT, mind you, not even toDAY) that Mark needs to wear a shirt and tie to school on game days from now on, including tomorrow. Mark has a couple of dress shirts, but they are multi-striped things that truly are not meant to go with a tie. He has one (1) white dress shirt. He has one (1) tie, which goes gorgeously with the white shirt and a pair of black dress pants.

So, piece of cake, you say, he can wear the white shirt and tie tomorrow for game day. Well, here's the wrinkle: TUESDAY is the HOLIDAY CONCERT, for which he is *strongly encouraged* to wear a white shirt and black pants. (They would require it, I'm sure, except that they have to take into account families that perhaps cannot afford to get special holiday dress-up clothes just for a concert. You know, like, say, me. Although I do it anyway. I have a horror of my children being inappropriately dressed. Flashbacks to childhood, but that's another post.)

What makes all this even more irritating is that we were AT the store today, IN the boys' clothing department, LOOKING AT DRESS CLOTHES, including DRESS SHIRTS AND TIES. *I* was picking up a pair of black dress pants for him for the concert, and just perusing the shirts, but remembered that he had the white shirt and tie, figured he's good. Picked up some black socks & shoes, too. (he refused "nice" black shoes. Instead he has a pair of those suede pullon things, you know, sort of like these.) But he never bothered to mention the need for anything to wear on GAME DAYS.

So anyway, tonight I told him to pull his clothes together for tomorrow, and he AAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH
OK, I'm okay. I was just blithely writing along, and then remembered that Mark brought his basketball bag (including his uniform, water bottle, and sneakers) to his father's house on Wednesday and never brought it home. So I woke him up and made him call his father's house to get them to bring it to him tomorrow. And had to listen to them go back and forth about how Mark shouldn't need his uniform because he's on the bench with his cast. Even though Coach told me tonight that he's going to check with the officials to see if Mark, even without a "soft cast," could sub in to shoot if they got a technical foul. Which Mark could not do if he was not in uniform. Not to mention the whole "be a part of the team" thing. But, they're going to "try" to bring it to him at school.

So where was I? Ah yes. Was getting [hold on--phone]
Damn. That was D. calling back that Mark's basketball bag is NOT THERE. Apparently he brought it back to school with him on Thursday. And never brought it home. So it is (hopefully) at school. Please excuse me while I find a brick wall upon which to bang my head.

You know, I don't even have the energy anymore to finish my story of how Mark wanted me to go shopping TONIGHT to get him a new tie because the combination of tie and shirt that he is going to have to wear tomorrow is so completely hideous. TONIGHT. As in, *after* his sister was already in bed and asleep.

But I will ask this: do you think it is so weird that Mark should wear his uniform to games, even though he's 99% sure to be sitting on the bench the whole time? X and D. think he shouldn't even bother. I, on the other hand, feel strongly that he should suit up with the rest of the team. It promotes team unity, as well as visually identifying him as a team member, in a way that just wearing dress clothes and sitting on the team bench does not. What do you think? mk

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Gotta Find My Game Face

OK, I no longer have any time to screw around. We are seriously in the holiday season, and I have a ton of stuff to accomplish, not least of which is a birthday party next weekend. I need to get my head together, gather my focus, and get a game plan.

But first, the updates:

Mark does NOT need surgery (thank the Lord). He is in a cast for four weeks. He chose a blue one because it matches his team colors. Go team! Patti was the first one to sign it, last night after the Brownie meeting. She wrote, "Thumbs Up, Big Guy!" :D [and he successfully took a shower last night, using an AquaShield cast protector they gave us at the doctor's office. LOVE. IT.]

Brownie meeting went well. We made *gorgeous* holiday cards to send to the troops through the Operation Gratitude program. My head was a little spinny by the end (too much activity over the last few days), but made it through just fine. A. was not there.

It's looking like I'm not going to get a detailed description of this past weekend's festivities. So here's a summary:

Friday we saw Santa get off the Coast Guard boat. He saw Kira (and me, behind her--did I mention I know Santa?) and said, "My, you're really growing right up!" She was THRILLED. Then we went to see him at his workshop, got a picture (Mark actually participated. I was shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you. Kira was too shy to talk to him.). Took a horse-and-carriage ride through town. Popped into the toy store. Went to the Green Thumb (display was rather disappointing compared to previous years, but Kira loved it). Went to the tree lighting ceremony and had hot cocoa and sugar cookies. Mark took off at one point and I couldn't find him. Then while looking for him I couldn't find anyone else in the group, either. Whopping panic attack. Once all together, Kira decided to hunt down Santa, as she was determined to speak to him. Once we got to him (he said, "Hey, I saw you earlier!") all she could do was stare and kind of wave.

Saturday the Strand Cinema was showing a free surprise holiday film. They weren't telling what the movie was until it started. That was really fun. The movie turned out to be A Christmas Story. They showed Wile E. Coyote cartoons before they played the movie. It was great.

That night was the Parade of Lights, which was rather short, about 20 minutes, but the kids had fun.

I'll post some pictures, and then I really need to get myself going so I can map out a plan of attack for the next few days. mk

Look, it's almost a smile on Mark's face!
This is Molly. She's 18 years old, and weighs 1650 pounds.
They're waiting on me, I'd better get my butt up there!
My mom at Planet Toy. She likes hats.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One of those friggin' weeks

Yesterday sucked.

Got a call from the school, they were calling all the parents to let them know that one of the first-grade girl's mother had died that day as a result of a car accident on Sunday. The girl is one of my Brownies. Apparently she was in school, and didn't know yet that her mom had died. They were waiting to tell her after school. What made this even worse for me was knowing that Kira had passed out her birthday party invitations that morning, and A. would be going home all happy and excited about a party.

It was a single-car accident, early Sunday morning, as a result of speed and poor road conditions. There was frost on the roads, and it was icy. There was an article online in the newspaper, and the pictures of the car were horrible. My Brownie co-leader's husband is a volunteer firefighter, and he was part of the rescue team. He said the pictures don't cover how bad it was. It took an hour to get her out of the car. They had to cut the dashboard in half to free her leg.

Anyway, the school was calling the parents so we would have a chance to tell our kids when they came home. The guidance counselor will be available today (and will apparently be spending most of the day in Kira's class, as that is the class that will be the most affected). When the kids came home, the very first thing out of Kira's mouth was: "Guess what? A. says she'll probably be able to come."

The kids took the news well. We moms are having a harder time with it. I've talked to a few yesterday, and we are all in shock.

I was so afraid of possible reactions from Kira. What if she refused to go to school, because A. went to school Monday morning and her mom was alive, and got home from school and her mommy was dead. Would Kira get extra clingy? How do I assure my kids that this wouldn't happen to me? How would Mark react?

Like I said, they took it well. Kira said that A. must be really, really sad. Then she asked how the car accident happened. (I didn't know then.) That was pretty much it. Kira went off to make snowflakes.

Mark spent a half-hour at MarkS's yesterday and while he was there I stopped next door at Patti's. While we were processing it with each other, our girls were running around happily shrieking. Patti and I aren't sure how today's Brownie meeting will go, whether A. will be in school today or not. It could go either way.

So then I took Mark to basketball practice. Fifteen minutes later, the phone rings. It's Amy, the team mom, and Mark has dislocated his thumb and could I pick him up.

So off to the ER we go. Mark's crying, he's hysterical at the idea that they're going to put it back in joint and it's going to hurt. He finally calms down a bit. They took a set of X-rays to be sure there was no fracture. The doctor examined it, tried to get it back in joint but it wouldn't go. Apparently it was a complex dislocation, which meant that there was possibly some cartilage that had slipped in the socket preventing the bone from going back in properly. He put two shots of a local anesthetic in and tried again, and was successful (another set of X-rays to check), although the orthopedic guy on call said that Mark needs to come in today to his office to get checked out to see if there needs to be any followup surgery(!). Meanwhile, Mark's in a hard splint up to his elbow, and his basketball season is over. If he doesn't need surgery, he'll be in the splint for 4-6 weeks, the ER doctor said.

So today I'm sending him to school, but calling the orthopedic specialist first thing this morning, and then I'll have to pull Mark out at some point to go there. There's a Brownie meeting after school today that I'll probably have to miss, and an away game that Mark is going to miss (although he still chose to wear game-day clothes to school today).

Oh, and this morning there were TWO mice trapped in the kitchen, including one in the cupboard.

sigh. mk

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere.....

So today has been the Day of Two Water Problems. (so far. knock heavily on wood.) First, when I came downstairs this morning, from my dining room I could hear a very loud hssssssssssss coming from the basement. Ever calm, my first thought was Holy shit! I've got a gas leak or something and as soon as the furnace kicks on my entire house is going to blow up! So I booked it to the basement stairwell and turned off the emergency furnace breaker. Whew. Crisis averted. But still hearing the hiss. Headed down the stairs, to discover that there was a pretty big leak spurting from the water tank area. (but at least it's not a gas leak or something! No explosions!) Further investigation, a phone call to my dad, and I shut down the main circuit breaker so the water pump would shut off and stop the leak. (had I been thinking more clearly, I would have first gotten a flashlight and my cell phone, as hitting the circuit breaker left me down in the cellar in the dark with a dead cordless phone in my hand.) Anyway, it turned out to be a shutoff valve leak, dad picked up a new one, installed it (I totally could have done that), and it was all fixed. Yay!

However, I think this was the last straw on Water Problem #2's back. After Dad left, went to go throw in a load of laundry, and the cold water was only barely trickling into the washer. Fortunately, I have actually had (and fixed) this problem before, so I pulled out the washer, disconnected the cold water pipe (remembering *this* time to shut off the water supply to the washer...who says you don't learn from past mistakes?), removed the filter screen, which was pretty much totally clogged with rusty chunks and hard water deposits. A quick wash at the kitchen faucet, reinstall, hook stuff back up and voila! all better.

What's cool about these two problems is that a) they were both quick fixes and b) total cost $5. It *has* thrown me off-rhythm a little bit, but still. It's a bit empowering to know that I've repaired my own plumbing problem today (and I totally could have done the other one, I had even told Dad exactly what the problem was, but he didn't believe me and had to come see for himself. I was, of course, right.). Combine that with the router I installed on my computer yesterday and the router I installed on *Dad's* computer on Thanksgiving (AFTER my computer-specialist aunt had spent five hours trying to get it installed....and I just gave it a try while she was in the shower, and got it on my first attempt....bwahahahahahaaaa), oh, and fixing the car door on the van on Friday (I don't know HOW I fixed it, but that's kind of irrelevant, isn't it?)....I'm feeling a little kickass.

I haven't forgotten about telling all about our festivities on Friday and Saturday....just don't have time at the moment. Need to go get the laundry switched over etc. I'll get back to you later. Promise. mk

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Survived! (aren't you all relieved)

Well, the kickoff to the holiday season has been successfully completed. It has been a busy (and exhausting) few days.

Thanksgiving was very nice, not a lot to say there. Went home in the late afternoon, *should* have gone to bed early, did not, stayed up for CSI and Shark. I have an alarm clock where you can set two different alarms (very useful, I love that option). Alarm1 is always set for weekdays at 6:30am. Alarm2 is the one that I change around depending on when I need to get up. So I set that one for 3:30am. Shows over at 11, I figure I was sound asleep by 11:30.

At 12:20am, my alarm clock went off. Apparently there is some surprise Alarm3 that is cued to go off when you are just reaching REM-sleep the night before you have to get up at an insanely early hour and are already only going to have 4 hours of sleep. Seriously, though, it was a freaky thing. I checked both alarm settings, and they were NOT for 12:20. Nowhere on that thing could I find any reason for the alarm going off at that time. So of course, my next thought was Holy shit, I am going to find out tomorrow that someone DIED at that particular moment. (you will be almost as relieved as I am that I did not, in fact, hear about any deaths yesterday, or even today for that matter.)

So, back to sleep until Alarm2 did its job and woke me at 3:30. (yes, Elise, I DID actually get up then!) I was in line by 4:15 for the 5:00 opening. And was definitely not the first person there. But considering that the line ended up winding along the entire length of the building and then halfway up the parking lot, I was okay with where I was in line. Store opened, I got the bike and a few other items, checked out, and on my way to the second store. It was at that point 5:30, with a 6:00 open at the second store. There were four people ahead of me. So needless to say, no problems there. They opened five minutes early, too. By 6:20, I had gotten all the shopping done, had gone to Dunkin for some Munchkins, and was at my folks' house.

Still had the whole rest of the day ahead of me with lots o' activities, too. yeehaw.

I'd tell ya all about it, but I'm still exhausted, so I'm going to bed. More to come. mk

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bring on Black Friday!

Well, for the (third?) year, I will be attending the Black Friday sales locally. Fortunately, in our small-town region, we don't get a lot of BFpsychos who will pull out your hair or shoot you if you get the last $1 Barbie. Add this to the fact that this year I'm not even getting any "hot" electronics, and I think I shall survive the madness. Of course, I'm still getting up at 3:30am so I can get a good spot in line. You never know how many other people will be out there to get the $40 mountain bike at WalMart (that and the $20 NetGear router at Staples are my main goals). My parents are still deciding whether they want to go for the $200 stainless-steel gas grill.

Naturally, because I will be a zombie by about 9am from a combination of getting up too early and the stress of shopping, I will have no chance of a nap at all tomorrow. Following the completion of my Black Friday shopping, we have a full line-up of Christmas kickoff activities. We have Santa getting off the Coast Guard boat. We will then actually meet with Santa to discuss this year's gift list. I will unsuccessfully attempt to coax Kira into sitting on Santa's lap for a picture. Mark will slouch in the background. We will then load the kids and my sister onto the horse-drawn wagon ride 'round town. Will probably make an ill-considered stop in the local toy store to "just look around." Then a trip to a local nursery that does a totally kick-ass holiday display, different each year. At some point we will stuff food into the children. At dark-ish, we will join many other townsfolk for the lighting of "tree" made of lobster traps. Yes, it's a 32-foot tall lobster trap tree. I am not kidding. The "star" is a neon lobster. On the plus side, they serve free hot cocoa and giant sugar cookies. And the last couple of years, I have gotten to watch my daughter (and my mother) waltz 'round the town square to the tinny sound of piped-in Christmas carols. It is wonderful.

Anyway. All that, and then Friday night is "our shows" for me & Mark: Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home, and our favorite, Numb3rs. So come Saturday morning, I fully intend to SLEEP IN.

So anyway. Wish me luck on my shopping venture, and making it through the day's fun. And it really IS fun. I'll check in probably Saturday with results and, if you're lucky, PICTURES!

Some pictures from last year:

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nothing to see here folks, move along

My life, for all its random running-around, is really quite boring lately. At least for those who are not markira.

I mean, *I'm* totally psyched to sit there on the bleachers and watch the boys run around and shoot baskets. But it's not like any of them are Michael Jordan or anything, so it's really not that interesting for anyone else. Even though one of the team members is like freaky-scary-attractive, in an I-only-mean-this-objectively-because-I-am-NOT-a-pedophile kind of way. It's just that he *so* does not look fourteen, and I am sure that his poor mom is having a heart attack about it. I say this with complete sympathy, because if MARK had those kind of muscles, and did that hair-tossing thing that this kid does, with those total bedroom eyes going on, and flirted with EVERY SINGLE GIRL in the seventh and eighth grade, I would absolutely feel the need to either lock him in his room forever, or heavily, HEAVILY invest in saltpeter. Fortunately, Mark is entirely too much of a geek still to attract that kind of attention. WHEW. But it does add an extra element of interest to the basketball games.

And I'm sure that everyone is entirely maxed out on hearing cute-Girl-Scout-stories, even if I *had* any, which I don't particularly, even though it seems that entirely too much of my time is sucked into the Girl Scout stratosphere, especially when you consider that we only meet every *other* week. Yet I am somehow always working on Girl Scout stuff. Huh.

I'm not really sure where all of my time disappears to. Because these two activities have somehow drained me totally these last few weeks. Well, that and the housework and the bills that have to wait to get paid because X's place of employment seems to still be unable to actually send child support payments in a timely fashion despite having four years of practice at it. Plus we have the new therapist that I have so far had one session with, and have my second tomorrow. I'm not sure how well this is going to work out, but am willing to give it the ol' college try (how long do we get to say that when we graduated 13 years ago? Is this like a lifelong phrase we have free access to? What do you say after the expiration date on that?)

And yes, I am babbling, and no, I really have nothing at all of significance to say.

Oh, quick funny. Or at least, *I* got a chuckle, but in my present state of mind, that means very little. I was reading a Michael Crichton book called Airframe, which deals heavily with all the wonderful things that can go wrong with airplanes. Picked this book up secondhand. And towards the end, I found that the previous owner had left a bookmark in it. Which airplane ticket stub. What kind of IDIOT reads about airplane dysfunctions anytime surrounding a flight? Anyway, I got a chuckle.

Now I'm going back to reading another Michael Crichton, which I have just discovered (five pages in) that I have *already* read (I HATE that, but I can't remember all the books I've read just by title, or even the plot summary on the back/front insert, so it occasionally happens that I get duplicates). I had this just happen to me with (yet another) Michael Crichton, Rising Sun. I'm seriously considering tanking this one and going on to a Ken Follett I have upstairs, Key to Rebecca.

OK, so now that I've bored everyone, including myself, to tears, I'm off. mk