Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Preparation is the key...

...to a successful road trip!
My wheels are already spinning in prep for our First Family of 6 Roadtrip, to NC. Oooh, shivers!

The trick is to prepare backpacks for each child, keeping them in hiding all week (the backpacks, not the kids - although hey! That sounds great too!), and buying at least one cheap, new toy for each to discover on the road. Thereby buying silence, and then more entertainment wheeling and dealing as they discuss trade vs. borrow options amongst each other. And don't think Phoenix is left out of this - since he will have Elmo crackers with which to bargain, and the older kids l-o-v-e his crackers. They just have to get over his desire to drool on their toys if they want share his crackers.

Next, secret DVD purchases. I squirrel these away in the glove box, and whip them out when things get a little hairy. If I time it right, we will wheel into Washington just as a movie is ending. Finito perfecto. So when I see the Knightdale sign, time to pop in a surprise show.

My latest trick, now that the girls are old enough, will be to pack a lunchbox full of snacks for each one. This will also result in wheeling and dealing, because Isabella's box will be empty before we reach the GA line (taking bets now), Cole's will have only the fruit left, and Jadyn...ah, my long-range planner, will have saved her favorites for last, which will probably be a sweet treat. We'll see how this plays out. She's got that tough cookie streak, but buried underneath is the tender heart that sometimes feels sorry for the others if they play it right. Cole will badger her, and Isabella will repeat over and over, with the ever-present pouted lips "But Jadyn, I thought we were best friends?!" When this discussion reaches a fever-pitch, I will commence the Mardi Gras part of the trip, and throw smarties around. And wish I had one of those new-fangled ipod thingies, to plug up my eardrums.

We are hoping to stop in Charlotte, at Uncle Zayah's for lunch. And by stop, I mean, stop at the end of the driveway and let the kids out before speeding away. Oh, how he loves little hoodlums rooting around his flower beds and rearranging his fragile decor! I think it is a kindness I perform, curbing that teensy little parent-lust he gets from time to time. Being an uncle rocks.

When we get to my Mom's, she will be ready to take over, run them around the field and show off all that empty-nest energy that she saves up for grandmothering. Rick and I will be ready to sample some Yuengling in sturdy quantities.

And that's just one potential trip equation, the one I prefer to dwell on, because all my planning works just right. Tied up neat with a bow. And now my littlest Big is standing in his crib, hollering for rescue. So long!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A project: part 1

It's another rainy Saturday, and I've been thinking on a writing project.
I'm going to give some character sketches a shot. I haven't done these before, and it doesn't always come easily to me, the pegging of personality and character.

But the lyric of one of the kids' songs caught my attention this morning:

"You can understand that beauty is nothing without truth..."

And so I will strive for some truth this day...

Giving myself a soft-pitch start, I will try the kids first.

Today my inspiration is Jadyn.
The happy child. The good-times girl.
The one that lives life wide-open, in all its pleasure.
Jadyn lives large. As an infant, she was delighted to roll around on the floor, laughing, laughing, always laughing. Looking for what fun could be had.
Mischief walks at her side.
Not with malicious intent, only with an eye toward something that holds interest.
A fun feeling, as in, it might feel funny to pour sand down my pants.
And doesn't it?
Jadyn does what our inner child often wants to: she hangs over the fence and spits in the neighbor's yard. She squirts lotion because it smell so nice and feels so soft, and more could only be better.
She holds an honesty that I hope will not disappear. We have an understanding - she may be into mischief, and I may catch her, but she will run with delight and enjoy the chase. Devil may care.
She grins. She takes the consequence grinning and running and letting us know that the action was worth any consequence. And that is our understanding, our mutual line in the sand: if she is caught she will stop. If she goes unseen? Game on. The Phantom strikes again.

She laughs. That deep carefree laugh that causes anyone near to laugh too - because it is pure joy, unbridled and loud.
My happy girl, never somber, never concerned with propriety. Assuring me that she likes them that way, when her panties are inside out, backwards and twisted. She simply doesn't care about a detail like that, and tells me so. Not rebellious, not snotty, just a statement of fact. I love them that way, Mom.
Which could possibly sum up her worldview: I love it that way. Though it may mean mild discomfort, joy or pain, the inevitable trials of living large don't stop her. They are fleeting.

But that smile, oh that smile that blossoms into the laugh - that is forever.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nice to see you, but I've got to be going now

Is it wrong to Gorilla-glue Barbie's shoes to her feet? Because that hussy can barely keep her clothes on, let alone those murderous 10 inch heels. And while I don't know how many Barbie shoes Mr. Big's digestive tract can take, I do know that it will be put to the test.

Because he is on the move.

Just like that.

One day, spinning in circles, staying in one spot - the next day crawling and moving and under the table and then standing there banging on the window and eating cardboard and oh my lord he found a Barbie shoe. And there are more where that came from, small hungry animal. Those shoes breed in the playroom corners and hide from all my attempts to gather them up and do away with them. Hence the glue idea.

And as all mothers of a baby just learning to move know - they are unstoppable. Hence the "I've got to be going now." Because apparently when babies wait until 10 months to crawl, and can already pull up and cruise along the furniture, they catch on to the next stage of moving skills exponentially. Speed-of-light exponentially. Which calls for extreme cleaning of the floor, coffee tables and playroom.

Here's how it went. All morning: pulling up, crawling, sitting, three-point turns on all fours, trying out his new moves. Very excited boy, very exciting bystanders, big, big day. By that last cat-nap, at 4pm? Standing in the crib. Do you know where I'm going next? Yep. I had that sucker on the highest newborn-top-level -baby-can't-move-spot. Which means that long ole Mr. Big was leaning over the rail. But yesterday he wasn't even rolling around in there! He was right where I left him, morning, noon and night.


Then came the mad dash to find that tool, that little wrench that loosens the crib bolts, which had been cleverly hidden by my loving assembler of all baby gear. Then the final lowering - all the way down, baby. Which made him very suspicious at bedtime. Where the booties am I, said his little face. Why am I way down by the f-l-o-o-r ??

We have moved out of infancy. And my granny will be calling after reading this, to remind me that her babies played in play-pens so she could get stuff done. I hear you. Loud and clear.

Monday, March 23, 2009

More Fun With Wheels and Other Happenings

Perhaps you recall my run-in with online photo printing companies, namely Sn@pfish. Well, Shutter something-or-other has gotten the memo, and apparently red-flagged me. Shutterflappity refuses to release my pictures from Birmingham! This may result in a letter. I don't know. I have wiled all my wily techno-wiles and still cannot save those pix to my computer.

So I have to resort to local action today.

And there is plenty of it.

Mr. Big has become Little Big, because he is not so Big after all. Tall, but very lean. So Little, and Big all at once. And obsessed with standing, to the point that he whines in a ghostly, moany manner whenever he can't reach something to pull up on. Which is often, because, you know, he skipped a step. He refuses to crawl. So he just sits wherever he is plopped, complaining about how he can't move. It is tres charming. I find myself copying him, in hopes that someone will scoop me up and put me somewhere else, too. Oh what dreams...

But! Suddenly a light clicks on! By scooting on his butt, and turning, he can weave his way over to something, anything, come on people let me stand up! A boy was born to stand, and I have been looking at you people's ankles, for what, months??



And are the siblings proud of him or what? Oh yes. We must all get into the picture to show our support for dear Little Big. There's a camera out, and someone else is getting some attention! Hurry, run for the table! Must. Not. Miss. Basking. In. Limelight. (Even borrowed limelight.) We call Cole "Waldo" - because every photo is like Where's Waldo - Cole can be found in each picture, and if he didn't make it time, you will surely spy a foot, an arm, or the corner of his head as he dashes madly to get in the picture.

Thankfully, the girls' antics on wheels entertain Little Big a lot. So if I plop him down near the tile, he can watch this. Like a 2-headed Medusa on wheels, they wheel and spin down the hallway.
(Email readers, you'll have to click to the blog to see this. And don't miss it - it's weird and cute all at once, the things these girls come up with.)
Maybe when I am having a stressed out monster-y day, I should try this. If you see me flying through the neighborhood on an office chair... beware...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Being in the moment

It is an hourly, daily, weekly whirlwind here and I am stepping out of it briefly.
I am stepping out of it because one of those future flashes happened, and time has to slow down a moment.
You know the future flash. Anyone with a child knows it.
It happens when a small child grows right before your eyes, and through some quirk of expression you glimpse the person they will become.
This week it happened to me with Cole.
I looked at Cole and saw for an instant the teenager that he will be.
And I was entranced. I stared. I took a picture, trying to capture that glimpse and trap it to be studied.
I fell in love with him all over again, just the way it happens when the bundled helpless wee one becomes your very own. I fell in love with him the way I imagine other girls will do, when that age comes around, and he figures out more fully just how charming he is.
A mother and a son.
It's a possessive sort of thing, a proud love that adores and swells to say "I made this, and just look at him."
In that moment, all the parental annoyances, grumbling and moods fall away and the speedy continuity of time stands clear. Wasn't I just cradling him, learning his face?
We all carry it within our grasp, that ability to see through the child, back to the newborn. The neonate. The fetus. The moment it became a reality.
The future flash gives the opposite. It teases. It torments. What will that future hold, and why am I not ready for it?
It makes me want to smell his head, as though he were still fresh from God and new in my arms. It makes me need to kiss that tender neck just beneath his ear.
The future flash is bittersweet.
I am enticed and yet slamming the brakes on time's march.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sideblog: I feel the love

Don't be shocked by the sporty context, I was a participant of March Madness for so many years, I cannot escape, no matter how little I watch or follow basketball. I even get the instinctive March urge to make chili, cheeseburger dip and buy Doritos, just because Dad had to have b-ball snacks for all the games.

So, in light of this heritage, can I just tell you that I consider Barack's pick of Carolina to go all the way, sort of like a personal love note? From him to me? A Carolina blue puffy heart from the Oval Office to Alpharetta.

Brilliant choice, Mr. President.
If you would like to see "Barack-etology" have a click.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Snapshots of the day

(This one has the knack. An instinctive knack for a camera pointed his way. And turn, and smile! Got it in one.)

(Yes I am capable of not smirking or scowling in a picture. I just proved it.)

(A girl can never have too much lipstick. Especially pilfered lipstick.)

(Mr. Big is pulling up on everything, bobbing up and down and babbling "dat.dat.dat.")

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Weekend Away

A departure from the ordinary last weekend - the boys and I road-tripped to Birmingham! We visited my long-lost friend Shah. OK, maybe not long-lost, but it has been almost a year (eek) and she needed to meet this baby boy. The baby boy in question traveled well, and slept well in a new place. So we will be off on bigger adventures very soon! Look out LW...

It was sweet to be with friends, catching up and connecting. I could move into that guest room in a second, and pal around B'ham. Besides the many {deep} things we have in common, we also share the bargain-hunting, deal-mongering gene, which is always fun. So we scored a quick shoe deal during the trip for my girlies. Other than that, we stayed put and enjoyed some quiet catching-up time. With *only* 2 children along, I felt free! More details later, with pictures...

I returned home to handle yet another techno-crisis. My beloved laptop was failing to charge, and though I wiggled the power cord successfully, and thought "Wow! I have a magic wiggle!" my power cord in fact split apart and began to spark at me. And like the girl I am, I squealed and threw it down upon seeing blue sparks. No sparky-sparky, thank you very much.

Which means that I had to head out immediately and get a pricey power cord. No likey-likey. But this is crucial business so I had no qualms about the cost. It was Rick that offered to tape up the old cord, when he saw the receipt. No thanky-thanky. So I'm back. Charged up.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Big Reveal

Is it Phoenix and his 8 teeth? No.

Is it my spring swimsuit purchase? No. Hail no.

It IS our spruced-up home!
And you have waited for this, my patient pals, after all my chattering about hammers, workers, painters, roofers and non-napping babies. I am an HGTV junkie, and I feel like it has been a Curb Appeal makeover. (well, without the landscaping part... yet...)
We have gone through re-siding to painting to roofing to me wrestling bales of pinestraw around the yard yesterday, to add the finishing touch. And Isabella daintily sprinkling wisps of pinestraw while proclaiming "Whoo, this is some hard work."

*drum roll*
Here is the before:

And here is The Big Reveal:


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

12 Corazones

Cole and I have fallen into an new routine. It started a month ago, when Rick was traveling, and Cole was watching TV in my room while I put the others bed. I came in to see what he was doing, and saw that he was watching "12 Corazones" on Telemundo. And giggling. We know very little Spanish, his being bits garnered from Dora or Diego, and mine from 8th grade classes. So I sat down to see what was so funny, and got caught up in the show.

As you can guess from the title, it's a dating show, and hey ya'll, love doesn't need a language. But somehow the language of love is funnier when you haven't a clue what the heck is being said. The hosts are over the top, the contestants are named by their zodiac sign, there are specials some weeks - like the beach special - (hello bikinis!) and Cole and I narrate. I think we're getting better, and sometimes I think we get what is going on. Look out.
The end is sort of like a white elephant party - even if 2 have chosen each other, they can still change their minds and choose someone else when given the chance. Oh the drama of it!
So when I walk into my room, there he is, grinning and waiting for me. Ready or not, here comes 12 Corazones...

Cole: Umm, I got no clue. But if I had to guess, I'd say we're going to a commercial.
Me: Hush, I can't hear what she is saying about round 2. (This is crucial, wouldn't want to misunderstand the incomprehensible. Nerd.)
Cole: She's pretty hot. I think he will pick her. I like the ones with long hair.
Me: She's a Taurus - watch out.
Cole: Hey, like me! (paws bed and snorts). Pick her!
Me: Ooh, they're kissing, don't look. Wow, that's a long one.
Cole: OK, lovebirds... Mom I really don't like the kissing sometimes, because I have crushes on a lot of pretty girls at school.
Me: Oh. Huh.

And on and on we go. If I gain any nuggets of Espanol, they will be oh so sexy.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Streak holds!

I am in a fine frame of jittery excitement, as my lucky streak has held strong this day.
Remember last week when I signed the girls up for fall preschool at our elementary school? The one with 750 students but only one pre-K class of 19? Yeah, that school. The one that said they would call me today if the girls got in.

I waited until 4pm, and no call. My stomach was all nervous because this has come to mean all good things to me, this matter of next year's schooling. I knew they had posted the list on the school door at 3pm, so when Phoenix woke up, we rode over there.

I walked up and saw 4 sheets of paper on the door, and scanned 3 of them nervously, noticing that THREE pages were the waiting list. Uh-oh. I had not asked how many were applying because I didn't want to shake my confidence. :)

Class list 2009-2010: #15 Isabella, #16 Jadyn.
This is going to be great. This means that 3 of my duckies will get on the same bus, and go to the same school, less than a mile away. This means that I will not have to wake any sleeping babies in order to meet the bus - since it stops one block from our home. This also means a substantial savings, since the alternative would have been private pre-k.
I am excited and relieved and feeling glad my streak has held. 'Tis a happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Knock knock

Me here. Really! Does it count that I blogged 3 separate tales of the day in my head today? The best one was about the loves of my life. Oh yeah - I mean, the ones that don't *know* I love them. Like... Bono? Deluxe love. You may say I just have a thing for older guys, and you may (would) be right, but that Bono gets better and better. The new tune rocks and is just so hip with that U2 timeless sound...

I heart Bono. Rockers with a conscience AND cool names? I would like a cool name please.

But I haven't really earned a particularly cool name. This week I was just a run-of-the-mill dingbat. My dingbattyhood (wow, that is a word I have to use more often) yesterday went like this:

10am - The B. saw roofers arrive.

10:05am The B. saw roofers laying large blue tarp over driveway

10:06am The B. thought to self "hmmm... wonder if I should get my car out before unknown quantities of roof junk fill that there tarp that is located in front of the garage."

*life intervened*

11am B. peers out and sees mound of junk on tarp blocking garage


You know what that means. The B. stuck in house on freezing cold day - all day - and let me give you the kicker: Cole was out of school. Uh-oh. Yes, the 30 minutes of snow from the previous day had become ice in some (rural) areas and all the metro counties closed school. It was a *sunny* cold day. And we live less than a mile from school. And the blue tarp stayed out there until 7pm.

You can see why thinking of Bono might have been an option for me. A few times I am pretty sure the noise of the kids playing tickle chase (oh you fun game, you) actually drowned the noise of 4 workers with nail guns positioned all over the roof. We couldn't get out because it was cold, and those tarps were all around the house, and junk was flying off from every side. Now, this did bring on an interesting window-peering session when tickle-chase was over. Look, flying tar paper! A novelty.

Did you like The B? It is popular with the Swedish crowd. And by crowd, I mean one friend. And her boyfriend that is my pretend friend. It is almost cool.

Wish I could sing.

This morning? I put my car out on the street at first light.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow came down to Georgia

Pairs of wet pants at the end of the day: 8

Wet coats: 6

Wet mittens: 5 (yeah, well, somebody who shall remain nameless only had on one...)

Shivering young-uns: 3

Utter delight and squeals over a rare 2 hours of snow? Priceless