Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Leaking Pumpkins and Candy Canes

We just returned from our pilgrimage to Michigan. At 3 AM.

To visit family and friends. To give gifts. To open gifts (and yes, to even return that one gift that elicited the "What in the heck were they thinking?" response). To unintentionally take part in family histrionics. To intentionally remove self from family drama only to get sucked back in. To keep my belly full and top button unbuttoned (and let's be honest, the zipper didin't have a chance). To popping Tums and drinking ginger ale. To drive. And drive. And drive. And drive in a car packed with too many things that beep, bleep, bong, and bang (and not being able to shut even one of them off). To say silent prayers that the sleeping baby remained in said state for the 6+ hour drive. To say not-so-silent prayers that the car top carrier would remain atop the fully loaded car . . . and that we would not be chasing after my underwear on the toll way.

To come home only to find the pumpkin I bought before Halloween sitting on the front porch . . . melting, leaking its guts and draining its noisome fluids across the cement. Lovely.

I know. I asked for it.

The good news . . . I spent a week with him . . .

Watching him giggle. Watching him hold onto his grandmas and seeing them turn into mush at the slightest grin (man, is he good . . . ). Watching him open presents (read: run around the room totally oblivious to the present-opening and more interested in grabbing cameras, picking up tinsel and swiping candy canes from the tree).

I simply soaked him in. His musical sighs as he slept in the crib next to us (the room so cramped I could practically feel his breath). The way he pulled at my lips as I tried to sing Christmas carols. His infatuation with the candy cane after he felt the taste of peppermint on his tongue for the first time. His energy, the way his feet would never stop, his hands constantly exploring and his eyes searching for the next adventure. Exhaustingly wonderful.

Although there are therapists that need to be contacted (after spending a week with the family). A treadmill that will be cringing when it sees me coming. Overstuffed suitcases to be unpacked. Complicated toys to be assembled. Abandoned rooms to be cleaned. A bundle of food to be purchased (oh, my poor fridge and the things I left behind). A leaking pumpkin to be disposed of.

I'd do it again.

And again.

Why not?

I love them.

They love me. (shockingly)

And J . . . well, that silly little boy is a sucker for a candy cane and a grandma.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Here is to a prosperous New Year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

PSF: Snow Angel

The ticker crawled across the screen. Local schools canceled. Bleary-eyed, I switched the channel to see the forecast.

Not a lot of snow. But maybe just enough. My eyes shifted down, to the little orange jeep that made its way over my belly and down my leg. I giggled as J headed down to my feet with the tiny vehicle. A tiny grin slowly spread across his face. Clearly he wasn't tiring of the "mom track."

I wonder if he knew what I had planned for him today?

9:46 AM

We started with the boots. The Parenting 101 manual did not specify time and effort it takes to put on a pair of boots.

No one told me that a squirming toddler is absolutely no help.

10:15 AM

Seriously. Why do they even bother with thumbs in mittens?

10:27 AM

Why in the heck am I looking for the matching hat?

10: 39 AM

He took off a boot. %$*&@

10: 44 AM

He's dressed. My turn. Clearly didn't think ahead. Can't afford another boot to be pulled off. Will go outside in PJs and heavy coat and rain boots. Good enough.

10:45 AM

We have made contact with snow.

10:45:05 AM

Face has made contact with snow.

11:50 AM

After several attempts to coax reluctant toddler back into the house, I finally succeed. Of course he was crying, dragging his bootless feet, holding onto the railing as he came "willingly" into the house.

I'm thinking our venture was a success. Even if I ended up with toe-sicles, it was worth every second.

Icy blue eyes. Puffy-cheeked grin. And a body full of bliss. My very own snow angel.

Totally worth it.

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PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

* * *

I can't let you all go without wishing a funny (serious belly laughs, people), sweet (though she may deny it), ridiculously generous (though she'll probably deny that, too) blogging buddy a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY. You know, 29 never looked so good (again).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We're Those Parents

The moment I set J down, his little feet moved with unrestrained anticipation toward the noise in the back of the house. He tumbled over a few shoes, rolled, found his footing and was off again.

As T and I took off our coats, removed our shoes and prepared to join the party, we heard it--a cacophony of oohs and aahs and "He's so cute?" and "What a doll." A grin creeped across my face as I silently agreed.

In a mater of only a few minutes J had found a group of comely teenage girls hiding out in the basement, away from the "old people" that had gathered upstairs (they swore on their Ipods that they didn't mean me). J was in heaven. With a sly little grin and a wink (I swear, there was a wink) the girls broke away from the action on the television screen. They were J groupies in a matter of moments.

J found a group of women entrenched in a rather intense discussion. As he approached he let out a cringe-worthy scream (a new talent he can't help but to show off) to announce his arrival. I quickly apologized, but they abruptly ended their conversation as they greeted their happy little intruder. After flirting with the ladies, J moved on to spread a little joy.

No doubt, he was a hit.

About an hour later we pulled up to party #2.

The wine and cheese party. The party where the cheap sparkling wine and box of Hershey candies I bought would be accepted with barely concealed disdain, or so I was informed. I left both at home, where they would certainly be more appreciated.

Hmmm. Wonder how they'd feel about a two-foot unexpected guest? (Yes, we are without a babysitter . . . in case you were wondering. The background checks were just too pricey).

The moment J walked in his head came in contact with the corner of a table. He melted in tears until the jingle of a reindeer wine charm (aka, choking hazard) reached his ears, distracting him from the pain. The guests were pleasant as they greeted the couple who deigned to bring a toddler to a classy holiday get together. I was confident that J's charm would win them over.

He climbed on laps. Dipped cookies in wine. Stole wine charms off glasses. Used expensive cheese as building blocks. Although I would have enjoyed huddling in a corner with a glass of one of the expensive whites and a plate of shrimp, I was too busy protecting the speakers, blocking J from the stairs and removing hazardous objects from his curious (and quick) fingers.

It was exhausting. Yet, each party goer was enthralled with my little man. They commented on his cheery disposition and his obvious intelligence as he maneuvered around the tables gathering, stacking and grabbing. Both T and I beamed with pride.

He was a hit. Again.

As we gathered our gloves, hats and coats and prepared to leave, the guests enthusiastically wished us well. We left the party, both thrilled with how successful the evening was.

After replaying the evening's events, it hit us. The realization forced us into a reflective silence as T drove toward home.

"We're those parents, aren't we?" I asked T.

"Yeah." He responded, the pride dissipating from his voice. "You know, they probably all breathed a sigh of relief when we left." I couldn't disagree.

I thought J was a hit, but they were simply being polite. I don't doubt that those teenage girls fell in love a little bit. But the party serving wines older than me, yeah, who were we kidding?

It's like dining at an expensive restaurant. The waiter serves you your entree and just as you are about to bite into your filet a tiny head pops up from the behind the seat. A tiny head belonging to a pixie-faced little girl who wants nothing more than to entertain you with a never-ending game of Peek-a-Boo. You sigh, hoping that she will abandon her game-playing or that her parents will turn her around so that you can eat in peace.

But she doesn't. And her parents are under the mistaken impression that you are enjoying the interaction.

You're just being polite.

They are clueless, enchanted and blinded by their child's irresistability factor.


We're those parents.

No doubt our egos were bruised with the newfound realization. But as we pulled the patchwork quilt up under J's tiny chin, bent over to kiss his plump cheeks and stroked the soft tufts of hair, we realized something.

We didn't care.

So what. Poopy diapers. Screaming tantrums. Pulling of hair. Taking (and hiding) of keys. The fact that every room in my house is Romper Room. I mean, I have a right to be clueless some of the time, right? I have an obligation to get totally lost in my undeniable pride and adoration for that little guy. That's my job.

We appreciate the politeness. Truly we do. And we'll try to keep J's charm in check as he tries to engage you with a quick game of Giggle and Hide while you attempt to consume your meal. But, in the world of toddlerhood, there are few guarantees.

Those parents.


That's us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Things that Sparkle Part II

Remember my last post?

I wrote this e-mail to a friend and realized that it would make the perfect follow-up blog post . . .

What I needed was something for these platforms I have above my closets in the foyer. The only decoration I've had up there for the last 8 years . . . massive dust bunnies peppered with random dead bugs. It's sad.

So, I went to the store to find some pre-made decorations and they were really pricey! I was thinking I might be willing to spend $20-$30, but I
found nothing that wouldn't require a major overhaul to NOT look cheesy. I'm simply not that gifted . . .

I found some cheap grapevine
trees ($9x2), decorated them with ribbon from Big Lots ($3), berry garland from the craft store ($3.50x2) and gold berry garland from the dollar store ($1x4). I spent about $30 for two trees! And you know, once I let go of being Martha (not that I really strive for that--but that darned woman does set the bar, or should I say jingle stick?!) I had fun just playing around while watching this really lame Christmas movie.

I know I am no Martha. And I'm totally OK with that. Not only that, I'm thinking that from a distance, these tiny trees aren't all that bad.

If I can do it . . .

*First, I know I need a new camera. I'm saving up! In the first photo, the lights are off for one of the trees so you can see that detail. That, and the builders neglected to put a switch for the plug on that side, thus we have to use a ladder to plug it in (I did figure out we could use a timer!). Also, the chandelier is very dusty, those are not "shadows" as I would love to tell you they are. And, yes, that is a basketball hoop on the closet door. Don't ask. I don't . . .

Monday, December 8, 2008

Things That Sparkle

I peaked over and I could still see her. My eyes followed her fingers as she examined the tiny leaves, berries and shimmery ribbon that adorned the festive decoration. She pushed up the tiny glasses that sat perched on her nose as she held the ornament up to the light.

What was she looking for? What could possibly merit this kind of scrutiny?

I had no idea. I quickly returned the dozens of the same festive decoration to their bins. Clearly, I was not qualified to be here. My shoulders slumped in resignation.

But I could not give up. I could not relinquish my dream of being a master of homemade festive decor without at least giving it one last shot.

I quickly made another pass down the floral aisle, patiently waiting for inspiration to smack me in the head with an idea that would make even The Martha green with envy.

I passed rows and rows of beads, ribbons, baskets and wreaths waiting to be trimmed by the knowing and articulate hands of a professional. Miniature trees, plain and ordinary, would soon be magnificent displays of holiday charm.

I started to get excited as tiny seeds of an idea began to form . . .

That's when I saw THEM. Two women. They joyfully bantered as they dramatically discussed their plans for a foam cone, some moss and a basket full pine cones and bows. I listened intently as they pilfered through the basket. Everything looked the same to me, but clearly each item held such a distinct difference that in my creative ignorance I failed to notice. I didn't get it. I had no vision.

I'm an idiot. A Martha wannabe without an ounce of talent.

As the critical gaze of one woman (the one with the snowman sweater and matching snowflake earrings--probably all handmade) fell to me, I quickly pretended to talk to J about the pretty angels that hung from the ceiling. At least I think they were angels.

I suddenly became self conscious of my attire (sweatshirt and jeans), my empty basket (save the empty raisin box) and the obvious fact that I did not belong amongst this crowd of crafting geniuses.

I knew I had to get the heck outta there. And fast . . . before the very last flake of my illusionary creativity melted like a sad, pitiful old snowman in the sun (you're lovin' my seasonal metaphors, aren't you?).

I gave my very best shot.

I failed.

Off to the dollar store where I was sure to find some decals for the windows and a few cheesy baskets I could fill with some fake fruit. Maybe I'd spray paint them with gold paint. Woo. Hoo.

As I made my way to toward the exit, I noticed something. Something that filled my heart with an ever-increasing comfort. And joy.

There were other women slowly perusing the aisles and tucked amongst the grapevine wreathes, that had an all too familiar look in their eyes. They tried to hide it, pulling out foam circles, empty pots and berry garland.

They were clueless.

Just like me.

Their eyes shifted as a Martha would begin her casual, yet craftily confident stroll down the aisle. I saw the women pull their shoulders back as if to say, "I belong here, even if I have no idea what I'm doing. So, push on, Martha."

OK. So maybe I was imagining all of this.

But it didn't matter.

I was inspired.

I took a big breath, refilled J's Cheerio's cup, and headed back into the fray.

Ribbons, berries, strange things that sparkle . . . here I come.

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Two Peas
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