Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snapshot: a rare moment of grace

So I pinky-promised Coleen that I will only post pictures of her if she looks fabulous. The problem is that if we are both in the shot, you can be guaranteed that one of us will look like a dog. It's apparently some kind of cosmic Law of the Universe.

That's why we both love this picture -- it's a Christmas miracle!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Day!

So the urchins are skipping with glee as we sip our hot chocolate, enjoying the first snow day of the year. We should be digging out from under the nearly two feet of snow that fell on Saturday, but do you really think that's how we roll?

Check out our back deck over the course of the storm:

Midnight -- Friday into Saturday

9:00 a.m. Saturday

1:00 p.m. Saturday

4:00 p.m. Saturday

Midnight Saturday into Sunday

Our final total was nineteen inches, which of course shut the entire region down. I know that this snowfall total makes us seem like pikers to folks who live in New England, or the Great Lakes area, or the Rockies. Whatever -- don't be a hater!

We used the time to get the lights on our Christmas tree. Yes. I know that the Big Day arrives momentarily. Did I not tell you that we like to saunter into the Christmas season? -- which Catholic purists will tell you doesn't actually begin until December 25 anyway. I have friends who don't even put their tree up until Christmas Eve -- on purpose! Now that's counter-cultural!

I don't have political reasons for waiting to get my tree up and my Christmas trinkets displayed. I am just intrinsically lazy -- and I have plenty of things to stress out about without adding decorating angst to the list.

My husband and I perfected the "one person wears the lights while the other person strings the lights" technique years ago -- and this year the oldest girl learned from the master.

He believes strongly in the squint method for making sure lights are spaced properly to ensure that perfect, even glow. Try it -- squint at your tree so that your vision is a little blurry. Glasses wearers -- just take your glasses off! If your lights are placed well, your tree will glow evenly. Gaps in the lighting show up very clearly. Don't thank me -- I'm just glad to help.

The decorations might actually get put up today, but stay tuned because it's noon and I'm still in my pajamas. Because (you guessed it) that's how we roll on a snow day!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snapshot: Casino Night!

We went to a swingin' party on Saturday night, hosted my my husband's employer. Everyone received play money and we gambled it all away. Fabulous!

My husband actually won a ton of money, but he gave it all to me which was a mistake.

I was having way too much fun to actually concentrate on the winning part -- but it sure was a good time!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A choir of angels . . . I think

So last night I went to the middle school winter chorus concert -- sixth and seventh grade version. The eighth-graders get their own concert due to their awesomeness and to cut down on the drugs they sell to the youngsters. Just kidding, Mrs. Fitzgerald!

Let me say to you now that you have not lived until you have heard ninety sixth-graders sing "The Hallelujah Chorus." Ninety sixth-graders who make up four different classes. Four different classes that have had no opportunity to rehearse together. Contemplate this, my people, and then imagine "The Hallelujah Chorus." That's right -- use the Think Method like they did in The Music Man -- and at the concert last night. The execution of the song was actually relatively excellent, but we enjoyed an unexpected treat when the microphone from the Jazzercize class across the hall in the cafeteria added an extra track to the accompaniment written by Handel. "Pump! Pump! Let me see you sweat!" gave the music an extra je ne sais quoi that I'm sure old Georg would have appreciated.

I did enjoy myself immensely because there is no fear like the fear of a seventh grade girl who is performing her very first solo, in front of five hundred parents and siblings -- and there is no thunderous applause like the thunderous applause she receives at the end of her truly terrific song. Her parents beamed the entire time -- and her little brother slept. It was awesome.

Unfortunately due to my crappy seat I have no glamour shots of this fabulous night . . .

. . . other than of the sunny girl and her BFF, Jolie Blonde, who are all about the glamour.

I stood up to get this shot with the ever-ready iPhone, thus humiliating the youngest urchin who cannot even be seen in this picture. But do you see the girls over on the left, with their arms crossed? They stood that way the entire night, while singing their hearts out. This is the classic "I am mortified and self-conscious because people are looking at me" middle school girl pose. They'll grow out of it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blessings are thick on the ground around here!

I know we're supposed to be decking the halls all over the place by now, but my family has always sauntered into this process instead of rushing. So before the mad frenzy of fa-la-la-ing overtakes me, I did want to tell you now that we did have the best Thanksgiving!

We feel so fortunate this year that we are all healthy, and that we are warm and safe and well-fed.

This time last year my husband was gallivanting about the Middle East, so we are so glad that he is home with us -- and that our home is in America.

And our friends are such a gift!

There are no words to describe this wider family of loved ones who make our lives so full. This year we just had to stop counting our blessings because we ran out of fingers and toes!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy birthday, adored one!

So the tall boy turned 18 last week, which has totally weirded me out. First of all, about fifteen minutes ago he was five, so I'm not amused that the time is just plain gone. Second, -- well, I think there is no second.

And really, when I look back on the near-death experiences the tall boy has lived through, it's a miracle that he's here. No shit.

Putting aside the whole repeatedly collapsing lung thing -- People! He drank X-14 scum remover when he was eleven months old. When he was two, he wandered into the street just as a dump truck barreled along. Screeching brakes, I honor your service. As you may remember, he fell through the carport ceiling and landed on the concrete below when he was twelve. No, it has not been repaired, and don't look at me like that. Did you think I was kidding when I told you I have earned the Bad Mother of the Year award every single year since 1992?

But even though I am not the mother he deserves, he is the light of my life.

A kinder person does not exist on the planet.

Curious and too daring, he is willing to try any adventure. If there is a trail leading to it, he has hiked up it, paddled through it, fished on it, or rappelled off it. Not particularly interested in a driver's license, he is all about learning to fly. In a plane if necessary.

He was born a hugger, and has never lost the knack -- offering the perfect hug at the perfect time to lift my spirits or get himself out of trouble.

He will hug me in public. Once he even hugged me in the lobby of his high school. Shocking, but I swear it's true.

I could go on about his brilliant mind, his determined attitude, his beautiful spirit, but I'm clearly so besotted with him that you wouldn't believe me -- even though every word would be true. I really just want to say that I know without a doubt that I am the luckiest mom.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Snapshot: I dare you not to smile!

Patrons at our local grocery store are so lucky that we get to encounter this ball of fire, who rings his bell and sings the festive holiday tunes -- for hours at a time! The oldest girl and I time our visits to the grocery store so that we can be sure to get a chance to sing along with him. Fabulous -- I'm telling you!

Check out this piece that appeared on our local news:

Shop happy, people! And hit those Salvation Army buckets hard!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Let's catch up!

So it's been a while since I've filled you in on the goings-on and what-not; but mercy! -- I've been having so much fun! Annie the Wonder Cat tried to keep my blog going for me while I was off gadding about, but she has always had trouble spelling "Oklahoma," so she eventually said screw it. She's like that.

Well, now I'm back, and I can't wait to tell you all about my adventures!

Over the next few days, wanna hear about my trip to Texas and Oklahoma with my sister? You got it! Do you love the sign posted on the door of the Pioneer #3 restaurant?!

I can tell you all about my trip to Rhode Island with my dad, to see my godson get married -- and how old that makes me feel.

And I had a great day yesterday, when I got to go back into the classroom and teach a group of college students. The topic was Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales -- so I just know that's a post you won't want to miss. Make sure you have done the assigned reading before you come to class!

But today a mound of laundry as big as my . . . . -- well, it's really big -- is waiting for me. Do you know that low-grade feeling of guilt and dread you get when you've been blowing off stuff for way too long? That's my diagnosis right now -- so I had better get crackin'!

tangent: Wouldn't it be nice if the Christmas decorations you see in the corner of my dining room were there because I am so proactive and ahead of the game when it comes to preparing for the holidays? Wouldn't you be sad if I told you they've been there since . . . . OK, let's just drop it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Road Trip!

I am headed west this weekend -- to Texas and Oklahoma. I've got to breathe in that good prairie dirt every so often to remind me where I came from!

I'm traveling with my sister, which makes this trip an extra-special treat -- she makes every adventure more fun!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

No. Just . . . no.

OK, so I have to tell you that I don't see myself as particularly controlling when it comes to clothing the urchins. I mean, don't get me wrong -- I feel firmly that they should be clothed. And I am all for clothes that are appropriate for the venue: school clothes aren't good at the beach; church clothes are not for raking the yard. I think we can all get behind these universal truths.

Although I will also tell you that the youngest urchin showed up once at her big brother's basketball game wearing a tutu and cowboy boots -- and I felt pretty good about that. She was not nude, and it had been a really long day, so don't be a hater.

The urchins might offer a differing opinion about my controlling ways, offering as examples days when I may or may not have said, "We are not leaving until you change out of that hideous shirt," or, "When has it ever been OK to wear sweats to church?!" -- or words to that effect. I would argue that I have allowed urchins who shall remain nameless to wear clothing that other mommies might frown upon: leggings have been worn to Mass. Spaghetti straps have appeared in public. These concessions on my part are gracious and magnanimous, which is to say that I am too lazy to argue the point.

tangent: The tall boy serves as a Master of Ceremonies in our church's altar server program, which means that when he serves he stands right up on the altar with the priest -- in a cassock and surplice (very conservative priest-like garb). He has also been known to wear a pair of black and white checked Vans to church. A couple of times we have arrived at church to find that the Master of Ceremonies on the schedule has shirked his duties. The tall boy, being a responsible sort -- and being nudged and goaded by his mother -- has then stepped up and volunteered to fill in for the missing M.C. From the congregation's point of view it is hilarious to see the tall boy dressed like a baby priest, with the checkerboard shoes peeking out from under his cassock. From the clergy's point of view the shoes are problematic, although they do follow the priesty color scheme.

I'm guessing the Pope wouldn't have that much on it.

But people! The clothing trend that I cannot abide is the "saggy baggy pants" look. I have grave moral misgiving about any attire that is designed to display one's skivvies (Linsday Lohan, I 'm talking to you), but what I really don't get is just the basic physics of the baggy pants. I'm serious: how do they stay up? And by "up," of course, I mean "precariously perched on the lower hip region, below the butt cheeks, bunched in such a way as to suggest a diaper that needs to be changed." I regard the whole phenomenon as a gravity-defying miracle.

I have researched this fashion trend vigorously, where vigorously means I googled the phrase "baggy jeans." From the data I gathered (read: pictures on other blogs) it appears that the baggy jeans are an homage of sorts to the beloved song stylist Li'l Wayne. Tony Bennett, eat your heart out.

Hey! How cool would it be if teenaged boys all over America started wearing tuxedos to school as a shout-out to Tony Bennett?! Get started on this, people!

The whole thing reminds me of that Little Golden Books favorite, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, which my urchins remember fondly, but always made me crazy because the elephant so clearly just needed to pull his pants up!

What do you think?!

Image Credits:
Billy, Eleanor, and Enyeart: Orville Wright (yes,
that Orville Wright) 1898/Library of Congress
Cowboy ballerina: Heidi Malott 2008
Saggy skater: courtesy of
Tony Bennett: Kevin Winter 2004/Getty Images