Saturday, December 25, 2010

Baby Jesus' Birthday 2010

Today is Christmas.  My mantra for the past four years has been, "Baby Jesus was King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords, and the Wise Men only gave Him three presents, so please, kids, you're not better than Him so do not think you're getting more than three gifts."  This meditation has worked fairly well...the kids' expectations have been reduced to a mere three gifts, however, it has blatantly backfired as I read Princess Diva's letter to Santa.  She did ask for only three things:  A huge trampoline for outdoors (I think they are about a grand), a Honda Odyssey (what do they run--$25,000 used?) and an I-Pod Touch ($300?).  So, as far as keeping costs down, forgetaboutit.   At the end of the day, though, each girl received three fabulous gifts and an overflowing stocking with additional goodies.  Two of the gifts were given by us, the parental unit, and one of the three gifts was attributed to Santa, so we would have someone else to blame when they started complaining about it.

So, with a living room brimming with gorgeous new gifts, what are the girls doing, you might be asking yourself.   THEY HAVE SPENT THE LAST TWO HOURS PLAYING WITH AN OLD YELLOW FOOTBALL THEY FOUND AFTER SOME WINDSTORM BROUGHT IT TO OUR YARD.  Are you freaking kidding me??  I know, I know, we all say the toddlers prefer the boxes over the games, and the bubblewrap better than the gifts but I thought these older children might take, oh I don't know, maybe 30 minutes or so to enjoy the stuff they have been begging for the past several months.  Lesson Learned.  Again.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Running Like the Wind... into the trees, and wherever it blows...

One year ago I posted about Princess Moxie and her cross country race.  It was a half-mile, it only seemed like three miles because it was cold and raining.  Well, this year the sun shone warmly on the field as five elementary schools unloaded their third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders.

We read the wrong memo so we were first in line to register, arriving a full 90 minutes early.  As a family we are NEVER early, not even on time, so I was completely flummoxed about how to spend all this free time with no rushing around.  I tried to chit chat with the parents who joined us on line but they were the kind of parents who apparently were always early for everything so we had nothing in common.  Except the kids, of course:  The American Common Denominator.   And our nation's favorite "holiday" was quickly approaching.  I speak not of Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, but of course, Halloween.

"So, what's Madison going to be for Halloween?"  I ask innocently.
"A gothic vampire," her mom says slyly.
"Oh, that's nice."  She's eyeing me now like I'm a jerk.  "I mean, that's cool.  I really like those gothic ones, you know, they're much better than the trampy sluty vampires," I reply. 

The race couldn't start fast enough.  I was more excited than the girls.  Unfortunately, Princess Sparky had to leave to go to gymnastics with her dad, but I was primed with my cell phone camera to take photos.

So, fourth grade girls line up.  There looks to be about 50 kids, all shapes, colors and sizes.  I see Princess Diva Darling right away.  She insisted on wearing a dress.  A bright red dress with a huge flower on the front.  She's got on striped pink leggings with those blasted "sketchers" that are more slippers than sneakers.  They have rhinestones and pink crystal heart charms hanging off them that catch the sun and nearly blind me.

She looks bored and is so far to the right that if she runs straight she will crash into the lacrosse net that's on the field.

I run up to her, "Don't run into the net, ok?"

Diva is fast but she's the kind of kid who falls down the stairs weekly and frequently runs into walls. She lopes, like a skittish deer.  

She rolls her eyes at me.  Great. Now she's bored and annoyed.   

There's music blaring from some speakers so I barely heard the start gun.  But I see Diva Darling is in front.  Way in front.  At least 10 yards in front.  20 yards in front.  30 yards in front.  I call her dad.  "She's doing great, she's waaaaay in front of everyone!" I exclaim.  She runs up a huge hill as if she's being pulled by God himself.  Now she's out of sight.  I run around trying to figure out where I can catch a glimpse of her.

The next time I see her she's trailing a short kid with long blond hair.

"What happened?" I asked Mr. L her gym teacher.

"She was way out in front and didn't know the course; she went about 20 paces in the wrong direction, and when I waved her back, she stopped, rolled her eyes, and then turned around.  She's doing great though!"

Diva comes in second.

As I yell her name the high school track coach glances over at me and remarks, "That kid is very fast.  Who is she, Pippi Longstocking?"

I tell the coach her name, but it's clear she doesn't realize yet that I am actually Mrs. Longstocking.

Next up are the fifth grade girls.  Princess Moxie insisted upon wearing her jacket while she runs.  Why not? After all, the kid next to her wearing running shorts and an athletic t-shirt looks nearly hypo-thermic.   Moxie has her hair in an up-do with a fringe of curls.  She wanted to run in this race because her teacher said she would earn a "paw" which is a bonus point and when she gets 25 paws she wins....lunch with her teacher! Some prize, huh?  I can't get my kids to do anything even though they get to eat dinner with me every single night.

The gun goes off and Moxie takes off.  She's in front.  Way in front.  It's deja vu Groundhog Day.  I call her dad.  "Moxie is waaaaay in front!!!" I shout.  "She's running up the hill like a gazelle on fire!!!"  I lose sight of her....a minute passes, and there she is, number three, number four, number five,  maybe sixth.  She's completely spent.  She runs through the funnel and collapses on the ground.

"Water, ma, I need water," she pleads and then bursts into tears.

This is worth a paw?

YES, by golly, it sure is!

They ran their big hearts out.  They coped with their own anxiety in their own ways, and they finished the race doing their very best.  What more could Mrs. Longstocking want?   I am so very proud of them!!!!

Before Breakfast

My idea of a good way to start my day:  meander downstairs to find the coffee maker timer worked and the coffee is made and already an hour hot; grab a happy mug and settle in the dining room to read, pray, and meditate.  An hour later, take a hot shower, dress, and find the youngsters already well on their way to getting ready.    The key to my good morning is QUIET.  SOLITUDE.  PEACE.  That said, I thought I'd jot down some of the questions my darlings asked of me this morning before I even had that first sip of hot nectar:

Question #1:  "Mom, how is money made?"  (Huh?  Like how is it printed or how does one earn it? Where's the coffee pot?)
 Question #2:  "How do they get this picture of the man on the dollar?" (Oh, it's a printing question.  Here's the coffee pot. Why was it in the refrigerator?)
Question #3:  "Is this an eight dollar bill?"  (Huh?  Oh, that number 8? I don't know why that's there. No, it's a one dollar bill surrounded by number eights.  Where's the milk?)
Question #4: "Did the money come from trees like my paper?) (No, it's actually cloth, that's why so many crooks can launder money.  that's just a joke. Please pass me the splenda.)
Question #5:  "Who makes cereal?  How do they get all the colors?" (Those are your sister's beads, don't eat them.  What do you mean there's no more splenda?)
Question #6:  "How does water get made?" (oh, just a little bit of hydrogen, a little less oxygen, and poof! Any equal? Sugar?)
Question #7:  "Who can make a window?  Can God make a window?" (of course, but His would be free but it wouldn't be cheap.  Oops, that's about grace not glass. Now where in the hell is my mug?)

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Flying High Mama

It's been ages since I've updated.  For anyone who is still actually checking this blog:  Helloooo!!  I am going to include a few photos from our recent excursions to the wonderful Children's Museum we visited recently.  

Before I do that, I want to share what the Princesses said recently.  Princess Diva Darling had to have two teeth removed due to her upcoming orthodontic work.  She completely freaked out (just like big sister Princess Moxie did when she had some teeth removed) over the notion of a "Tooth Fairy."  Her rant was  something akin to this:

"Mammmma! Wha???  A fairy?? A little person flying 'round my room while I was sleeping?? Flew under my pillow?  Awwwww, ewwwww, I don wan no fairy in my room flying around in the dark while I'm SLEEPING!  How did she get in?  Through the wall or a window?  How? Mama? What else can get in?"

So, Princess Moxie-as she's the Great Protector-led her sister downstairs by the hand and joined me in the kitchen:

"Mom, she's upset, but don't worry I told her truth," explained Moxie.

"What truth did you tell her?" I asked.

"You know, that you are the tooth fairy."

I looked over at Diva Darling.  She was looking at me with her large brown adoringly.  Truly in awe.

 "Really Mama?  You are the tooth fairy?"   she asked disbelievingly.

"Yes, sweetie, I am," glad to know that the real truth was told.

She continued to look at me with such love and then asked, "How did you learn how to fly?"

Deep breathe.  And this is where I went astray.  "Well, honey, there are lots of things I can do that you don't know about.  I've always been able to fly.  This is why I am so tired in the morning, you know, flying around to all the little boys and girls' homes to exchange their teeth for money. Now go, now, play now," as I ushered them into the playroom.

There are some people who just aren't ready for the truth, I suppose.

Princess Diva Darling at the Children's Museum

                 This is Princess Moxie (above) and Princess Sparky (below) also at the Children's Museum

The three princesses snuggling with a big umm queen?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our 3-Ring Circus

Here are some recent photos taken May 25, 2010, of Princess Sparky from China with Ethiopian sisters Princess Moxie and Princess Diva Darling.  The last photo was taken in Addis Ababa in May of 2008.  That photo was the very first one we ever saw of our African princesses...I still get goosebumps when I see them! 

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    The Simple Way to Lose 80 Pounds

    I'm sitting in the "Craft Room" at the town gym. This is the big room with a wall of new computers where the senior citizens meet for the AARP Driver Education course. I just got off the treadmill and my legs are still quivering. But I am not sore from weight lifting or the run. It's the spring cleaning that's killing me.

    Rather than actually clean the upstairs bathroom yesterday, I decided I'd rip out the old grout around the tub and ta-da, just re-caulk it clean and white. Went to the hardware store on Main Street and got a bottle of pure white silicon waterproofing caulk, a nifty green caulking gun, and some delightful new sponges. (Don't new sponges hold such promise? They are so pure and optimistic.)

    Re-grouting the tub yesterday was a big accomplishment for me. However, when I surveyed my handiwork this morning it didn't look nearly as good as I thought it would. It was messy. Bumpy. Smeared on the wall over the soap dish and on the floor tiles. It's waterproof. It's permanent. How many projects have I undertaken with more enthusiasm than expertise? Most, I imagine. What makes me think that a video on youtube is sufficient? My dad was once a shop teacher, and one of the gifts he imparted--which is entirely unmerited--is supreme confidence around power tools. I think because he can do something, well, gosh, so can I.

    Inspired by my caulking, I attemped to clean the oven...for the first time in five years. No, that's not really true. I tried to clean it a few months ago, and with my mother's help we managed to permanently lock the oven door for the self-cleaning cycle, but nothing happened. The service guy came out and told me that I had burnt out some venilator piece and I'd be better off not replacing it. "Just clean it the old-fashioned way, use Easy-Off," he advised. Oh my goodness. Now I know why everyone complains about this task. The spray created gallons of gooey black liquid that ran onto the wood floor. It took two rolls of paper towels to mop up the gunk.

    Encouraged by my oven cleaning, I tackled the kitchen floor this morning. Swept, vacummed, mopped, and then got on my hands and knees and wiped off every gooey sticker the kids planted on the floor over the past year.

    "Where did my Smiley Face go?" wailed Princess Sparky.

    "It's floating in the black goo from the oven, honey."

    Undaunted by the kitchen floor stickiness, I marched into the living room and moved the furniture, sweeping, vacuuming and mopping in there, too. I found a Christmas plant that had fallen behind a bookcase, a math game to learn fractions, and several orange peels. I rearranged the furniture; this is truly one of my favorite past-times.

    On to the hall closet! I found SEVEN bags of kids' old clothing that we were going to sell at a garage sale that never happened. I loaded them into the car, locked down Princess Sparkey, and brought all of it to the Salvation Army drop-off bins.

    My back is killing me, but I think I lost about 80 pounds since yesterday morning!