Saturday, January 30, 2010

Project 1: the hall

I know we are all into the new year clearing up and cleaning out mindset, and yet simply keeping the daily clutter under control is a job in itself. I had to tackle the visible clutter first, and stop talking about potential future solutions. (Pull the trigger B, just pull it! -BB;-)

The Mission: clear up the clutter that walks in off the bus every day, and gets dropped in the hallway.

(The Unspoken Mission: Do so in an attractive yet inexpensive way!)

The Space: our small foyer, in which the area we have to work with is behind the door, and only 4 feet by 2 feet. Ouch.

The Solution: Re-purposing a hutch, and creating a child-size hall tree.

Hip, hip hurray for re-purposing an $87 office hutch! And all I did was add the 4 hooks, which were $2 each. I am debating the addition of feet, only because the solid base makes it very sturdy. But feet would really shift this piece away from hutchiness, and into hall tree-iness. Or something like that. Witness the organizational success that makes me smile!

A perfect fit

A hook for each jacket and backpack

A helper that thinks this is a perfect snack spot


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How quickly they emerge

Part I

Isabella: Mommy, can I get a Jonas Bros. cd?
Me: (??) Umm, sure sweetie, someday. What song is it that you like (even know of?!)?
Isabella: That one "love me like I am."
Me: Well, maybe we can find it online, for today.

4 hours later...

Cole: Isabella! You've been listening to that song ALL afternoon!! Enough already!

And she had. Sitting there with one knee under her chin, watching the video, hitting replay every 4 minutes.
Where has my Wiggly Bella gone?! Wasn't it just last week that she danced along as a reindeer, singing to Wiggly Christmas?? Why yes, yes it was.
But this week she is 5, and this week she wants to listen to the JoBros. And sing about being loved for who she is. Heartbreaker! Perish the thought that anyone would see those wide, innocent eyes, and that pouty mouth and not love her for who she is!

Part II

Jadyn: Mommy are The Jonas Bruvers real?
Me: Yes. They are real. (This is Jadyn's stock question about everyone - animal, mineral or vegetable. The quest to not be fooled by something Not Real.)
Jadyn: Do they sing to the people?
Me: Like a concert? Yes, they are real people that are on TV and also sing to people in concerts.
Jadyn: Ok. Let's go see them.

And that is how I began to see The Easy Years slip away.
How quickly they emerge, no longer the non-gender-acknowledging toddlers, or tomboyish preschoolers, but that most inexplicable creature: The Little Girl.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

And then a smile comes

The Haiti coverage has drawn me each day. When I have a moment to watch, I am riveted by the stories of survival. The toddler pulled out after 4 days; the husband waiting at the bank for 6 days - and his wife Jeanette comes out singing to God and bearing words of love.
Mostly it is just heart-wrenching, as we have all seen the devastation of a land already on the brink, and a people required to survive everything nature can throw at them.

But now and then, unexpectedly, a smile comes.

Today, after 11 days under the rubble, a man was rescued. He had been trapped in the rubble of a grocery store. He was able to survive because he could reach cookies, beer and Coke.

That man must have been livin' right, people.
Just plain livin' right.

So we let the smile come, and we know that even in the direst circumstance, it lurks.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Girl! Happy Birthday Girl!

On the birthday morning:

They had donuts, as requested.
They opened musical storybooks, and played all the sounds.
A Mickey Mouse book for Isabella; a Princess Storybook for Jadyn.
And then it was time for school.

During the birthday school day:

They made crowns, and decorated with delight.
They had a birthday snack of M&M cookies, as requested.

In the birthday afternoon:

They opened gifts from Grandmother Gigee, and wore capes made By Uncle Jeremy.
They got to choose a stuffed friend at Build-a-Bear, as requested. (Isabella chose a puppy, and named it Fluffy. Jadyn chose a sparkly pink unicorn, and named it Sparkles.)
They got to Eat At A Restaurant (TGIF) and Have Macaroni & Cheese, as requested.

At the end of the birthday:

They both declared it was good to be "five!"

Good morning sunshine! Jadyn enjoys her chocolate donut.

Good morning wide-eyes! Isabella declares the donut "too sweet."

Home from school, showing off crowns and new fleece Mickey & Minnie hoodies.

Meet Fluffy and Sparkles!

Dancing at TGIFriday's...

Rock it out chickies!

Home for cake

Good night beauties! What will the next year bring...

(For reminiscing, baby pictures are here, at last year's post.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mixed Emotions & the Myth of Patriotism

I watched the cheering over the Massachusetts outcome. I have nothing against the man; I had never heard of him. I have no qualms with MA's opinion on healthcare - they already have universal coverage - why should they be interested in paying for it again?
And yet I felt the burn. The burn of the cheers that should be echoed by outrage on the part of those left hanging. This is personal for me. The outcome of this reform will affect people that I know and love, and the burn comes from untolerated disrespect.

When I feel the burn I either write... or walk away.
Yesterday I wrote. And wrote. And purged. And emerged.

After a deep breath, a stifling breath, a desire to be a stronger person...
I pounded out the post on the Myth of Patriotism.
You know you want it... :)

I want to think all it would take is a human story to show another side.
I want to believe that a picture speaks a thousand words.
I want to see Mr. Limbaugh suspended in mid-air by his big toe until all his misappropriated pills tumble to the ground.
We can all hope, right?

I am tweaking and learning and if I can't get it right, and can't write it right without sinking to the lowest commen denominator (and I really don't want to keep the aforementioned Mr. L & cohorts company!) then begone! To the gym with me instead!

Which I may well do anyway.
But here you go. A salve to soothe the burn. As requested.

The Myth of Patriotism

A particular brand of patriotism is afoot in our country today.

This patriotism holds many ironies, many hidden agendas.
This patriotism and its allies are peculiar. They are fair-weather friends with our nation.
They are proud flag-flyers when political leadership & agenda suits them.
And the agenda of this patriotism is extreme. Its success holds ruin.

It is more aptly named factionalism than patriotism; self-interested and partisan are its bywords. It calls for the failure of a movement to feed its hunger; it calls for bringing down a nation to prove its precepts.

The self-proclaimed patriots who cheer for our current leaders to fail, as though the consequences were of little more import than a sporting event - ah, these patriots are devious. Their self-interest will sacrifice positive reform. Their short-lived success will cost lives. The flipside of those raucous cheers are the faces of friends and family that live under crushing medical bills and untreated conditions.

Their fair-weather brand states that they support our country and its leadership only when their wishes are fulfilled. They lend no credence to unvoiced millions who opinions should surely count equally.

They falsely prophesy a catastrophic downturn for our country, while other millions instead lift their eyes toward hope.

They cannot claim the name patriot. That is reserved for absolute love of a country. And it is not absolute love that pushes for failure, simply so the self-proclaimed patriot can be "right."

When their beliefs require them to be right, in the face of fresh ideas and possibilities - the only outcome is stagnation and repetition. The 8-year cycle of repetition was broken for a reason, and broken by a majority.

Let the record stand: if you claim to be a patriot, you cheer for the success of every American. You make allowance for the fact that another's rightful pursuit of life, liberty and happiness may differ from yours. You allow that another's needs as a citizen may be different from yours, but are just as valid and worthy. You commit to a human exchange and conversation that holds respect and dignity.

You honor patriotism.


1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Miscellania to Entertainia

Dudes, Dudettes and Other Interested Parties:

Bow to my resolve and discipline! You may be pleased to learn I have exercised aforementioned resolve in NOT posting my long, self-indulgent post on The Myth of Patriotism. Self-indulgent you ask? Well, I have been watching Idol, and I *do* love Simon. I feel closer when I use his words.
Should it become appropriate in oh, say, the next week to again visit the topic of patriotism, I will whisk out my ready-made writings.

Until then?
I will:
A. Refuse to waste time rebutting facebook statuses.
B. Continue my limited-engagement love/hate relationship with facebook.
C. Hide and/or un-friend any people that are not actual friends, but who in fact only perhaps caught sight of me in the halls 19 years ago and mistook that for knowing;
D. Hide and/or un-friend anyone whose opinions cause me to renege on A.
E. I love you

In other news, the small loves of my life, Baby A and Baby B will turn FIVE tomorrow. I am excited for them, and yet rather weepy. They have been the ultimate joy. Their time in the womb points directly to today: Baby A (Isabella) obediently head-down and waiting for months. Baby B (Jadyn), and I quote my OB upon delivery: "Wow, I've never seen such a short cord!"
I remember very little of the blur of activity clearly, but I think of that phrase, and of how normally the cord is of such length that the baby can be laid upon the mother's belly while the doting papa cuts the cord. No. Friends, Jadyn had *just enough* cord to be born. Any shorter and I quiver to think of the lengths I would have gone to birth that child.
Skip to today, in the teacher's conference:
"Isabella knows the rules and tries to follow them daily."
"Jadyn is, if I may... a bit sneaky."
Phantom girl goes to school!
To be fair, the teacher did also say Jadyn follows the rules, and she has not had any notes home. However. She walks that line of sufficient obedience to deter grown-up human intervention, Whereas Isabella prefers to be well over the line, to the point of grown-up invitations to sit and snuggle.
The Birthday.
You will find out after the weekend what Frick and Frack have chosen to do!
And tomorrow I may be self-indulgent *again* - but this time I will share.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Celebrate Monday!

I'm grabbing a moment to share a quote with you, on this warm sunny day in GA.
I keep this one tacked up at my desk, for inspiration when needed.

Please enjoy the inspiring words of the man we honor today:

"Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of [people] willing to be co-workers with God."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is astounding to think of the changes in freedom that we all enjoy, thanks to those tireless workers a generation ago. As women, we now have rights that were denied us in the 1960's - so very recently. The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 not only outlawed discrimination based on race - it gave women legal tools and standing, outlawing gender discrimination.

Equal rights.
It sounds so simple. So straightforward. So natural.
Yet before this legislation, if a woman was raped, she could not expect a trial or prosecution of the perpetrator - unless there was a witness to the crime. A witness!
It is difficult to imagine a woman's word holding so little sway. Simply because she is a woman.

Celebrate this day, friends! Celebrate the movement that gave us freedom to be ourselves!

May we all move forward with verve and vision, knowing that we are part of a greater plan.
May we raise spirited, spirit-filled children who know their worth, and stand up for others.

For when one rises, the rest are pulled up also...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Belated Proof!

See? It really did umm, snow-cough here last week. Only it was snow-ice-crunchy-slippery-stuff. Which is actually suitable for making snow angels, oddly enough. Here is the cuteness of the brood, catching their rare glimpse of (not quite) snow.
The hour of day was not cute. Nor was the temperature.
7:30am and 16 degrees.

But oh, the excitement!
Argh, I'm not fiddling with this weird layout - it's the weekend!
And may it treat you well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Guest Blog: Funky Phoenix in the house

So, my Mama and I were cruising Target the other day, and I was all "Yo Ma! Throw some cool jeans in the cart! Gotta spruce my look!" That baby blue bear and squirrel stuff just gets old, right? I'm feeling a new me this year, and the boy's gotta look the part.

Then Ma was all "Ooh! Skinny jeans for toddlers!" And Dad was all "Why do you keep calling them skinny?" And I was all "I am feeling funky!"

Anyway. That's my look. I'm thinking it's a city kid thing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

just don't do it

If you are ever asked to buy donuts, don't do it.
If you are ever asked to buy donuts at lunchtime, when you haven't eaten since breakfast, don't do it.
If you are ever asked to buy donuts at lunchtime, when you haven't eaten since breakfast and you have just exercised for 80 minutes, don't do it.
If you are ever asked to buy donuts at lunchtime, when you haven't eaten since breakfast, and you have just exercised 80 minutes, and your stomach is roaring and touching your backbone, don't do it.
If you are ever to asked to buy donuts, and then you walk by the sale cart and see Milky Way Dark bars for only 19 cents, don't stop.
If you are only in the store for donuts and yet there are 3 different kinds and you have to pick the yummiest, don't do it.
Don't buy donuts OR Milky Way Dark bars.
Because even though your new resolve for fitness and healthy eating is firm, those sweet treats intended for a school function will call your name.
They will be a siren song, and you will be the sailor on shore leave.
They will be the brazen hussy on the corner, and you will be weak.
You are only a woman.
Just don't do it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Update on the Year and All That Yes Stuff

Weren't you wondering? Sidetracked, daydreaming and goggling at my apparent ability to blithely say "Yes!" in the face of mayhem?


For offspring numbers 1, 2 and 3 - it goeth well. We are achieving a higher level of peace. We are imperfect and yet... reaching better cooperation.

Offspring number 4? The 20 month old?

This would not in fact be The Year of the Yes for him. Oh, my, no.

See, that's what I get for getting all smug, and saying things like "Bring it on, child 4! Surely my eye hath seen whatever it is you got in store! You will of course fall into a categorically sound slot of Things I Have Already Seen! Yes, sure, you started out grumpy & discontent - but you will fit a mold - pick one!"

And then the boy went ballistic. And he took my challenge and he did things that made me say "Wot?! Nobody else ever did this! What is he doing??"

He is one of those. The mischievous, cheerful charmer with a heavy-handed "plunk!" in store for every toy. The one who hasn't yet learned to holler "Heads up!" before he lobs a random object at your coffee cup. The one who pokes small toys into the crevices of the gas fireplace, and uses stray pencils to scribble on front doors, cabinets and chairs. Oh yes, he's one of those. The Untrusted.

These are the ones that cannot be given a crayon under any circumstance. They will draw on everything but paper, and if put in their high chair with a crayon, will draw on the chair itself, then throw down the paper and proceed to step 2. Eat the crayon. Get it all in the teeth so that it drools out for hours, in chunks and spit-out globs.

He stands, jumps and makes whirlpools in the tub; when asked to sit, he assumes a runner's stance and waves his bottom to and fro. Yes, you're funny, you small maniac.

He pilfers discarded food from the trashcan, and puts toys in there instead. He decorates his hair with any messy substance he comes in contact with. He sneaks up behind the kids and whacks them on the head. He climbs on the kitchen table and sweeps off anything in his way. He scampers up the stairs and throws things down. Toys run from him. Household objects fall apart when they hear him draw near. He is Toddler Godzilla and Tasmanian Devil in one. Dum-dum dum!

He is exuberant in everything he does. He keeps me hopping.

This is not a Yes Year.

This is a time-out year. And yet, even that he handles with nonchalant style. He sucks his thumb, and half the time drops off to sleep during the enforced sit-down. He lures the kids over to entertain him, like he is seated for a show. They adoringly comply, despite my warnings. Such is his charm. And yet...hardly a consequence for wrong-doing!

Even now, he stands at the baby gate, alternately throwing things at me, ramming the gate in hopes it will loosen, and now - throwing things in the trash. That always gets a reaction. I hear that gentle click shut, and know that something cherished has just gotten canned.

This is the year I say "Yes!" to childcare expenses.

PS As I was about to click "publish" he showed up at the gate again. Dragging and heaving the changing table pad, trying to throw it over. And here come the blocks, tiny missiles aimed at my head. And now the small toy bins. Forget about a helmet for him - I need one for me!

I'm the king of the world!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jeans! And style!

Check out Lindsay's new style blog! She's Still Got It offers short posts that are accompanied by photos, highlighting cute styles that are easy to pull off.
She posts hip styles for women that are affordable and flattering. Today's post is about a new jeans line called Not Your Daughter's Jeans.

The holy grail of motherhood... to find jeans that do what they need to do, and feel great doing it.

At the very least, click over and check out the Mom Jeans clip, from SNL. It is still funny, no matter how many times you've seen it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Irony and oddity

An encounter with irony:

Ronald McDonald spoke at the elementary school today. There was an assembly in the cafeteria for every grade. All three of my children attended, with their entire classes.

Ronald McDonald's topic?

Staying active. With some tips on not over-eating or consuming too much sugar.

True story.

From the school that would not allow the President's address to be broadcast, all of a sudden Ronald McfrickingDonald is an expert on physical health and well-being?? Where was my notification that HE would be advising my children on staying healthy? Where were the consent and prior notice forms??

What is this world coming to.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Year of the Yes

I have one simple resolution this year. Though it's a little bit remarkable that I have one *at all* - as I am not a resolutionary. :) (Don't google that word, T, I totally made it up. I think.)
But I was excited and renewed by the start of a new year, because I love fresh starts. It is certainly not the reason I have four children, but let's be honest. An introspective and observant parent may just try to correct things with each subsequent child, right? It can go either way. You buck up and find a better way to handle them, or you say to h*ll with it, I'm outnumbered by wild apes! Let them raise one another! Let them be raised by wolves! (Honesty, right? Well then, I'm honestly hoping the first 3 will potty-train the last one. A girl can dream.)

I digress.

The Year of the Yes.

It takes place like this: Mommy can we get a toy out of the closet? Mommy can we play with play-dough? Mommy can we ride bikes? Mommy can we make ice pops?

The 2009 mommy would frown and proclaim No! Can't you see what is already going on around here?! And this baby is into everything and he just threw trash all over the kitchen and now he is screaming and I don't have time to get out ONE MORE THING if you want to be nice just go around and pick something up and put it IN the closet and speaking of closets I'm going to lock myself in MINE blah blah blah blah blah blah....

I hope that wasn't too painful for you. I did promise truth in advertising, and that is clear advertising of a breakdown! That mommy was tired of her own voice and the sound of it didn't even work anyway. Bah.

And so The Year of the Yes was born. Because the enlightened mommy noticed a certain air of dread and annoyance clinging to her, and decided to kick it to the curb. Because saying Yes {within reason} is harmless and pleasing to all. All the haranguing and conditions and pay-offs were zero sum. Nobody won. Mama didn't win. Babies didn't win. Life didn't win.

Enter The Year of the Yes. Sunshine shooting out of smiles! Sparkly unicorns dancing in the air!

Yes! Turn up the music and have a dance party! Yes! Have popcorn for snack and watch a movie! (Sheesh, what a no-brainer. That 2009 mommy was a real dud.) Yes! Call the neighbor boy and invite him over. Yes! Go bowling in the driveway using recycling items as pins - whoa. Not those. Those are glass. I didn't say it was The Year Mom Gave Up and Let Them Become Hoodlums. I don't want to be That Mom.

I know what you're thinking. This post is already a best seller. It's called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and I probably read it eons ago.

Maybe this should also be The Year Mommy Took Ginkgo Biloba And Got Her Memory Back.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Notable Quotables

The day of Christmas Eve, as I prepared food, tried to keep the house straight, and waited for my family to arrive:

Me: "The fun has not started for me yet!"
Cole: "I know Mom, the fun won't start for you until the adults out-number the kids!"

Forestalling the start of morning bickering:

Me: "It's a new day and a new year. There will be a change in attitude and behavior!"
Isabella: "I'll get your purse so you can give us the change!"

Happy New Year....