Sunday, November 30, 2008

A cup of cheer

I just returned from some shopping and since I was passing by Starbuck's stopped in to give myself a eggnog latte. Mmmmm! Mmmmm! YUM! I first gave Starbuck's a try less than a year ago and it only took one sip to get me hooked. It is now my treat of choice. If you too are a fan of Starbuck's or wondering what all the hubbub is about check out my friend Jessica's blog. She is currently having a giveaway for a Starbuck's giftcard. She also writes some dead on funny posts, so what are you waiting for? Go on over and check it out!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Away in a manger

This weekend I was prodded into dragging all the tubs of Christmas decorations out of the crawlspace so as to deck the halls. Usually I'm running around trying to get everything up ten days before Christmas but this year was different. Last year I purchased the very cute, and worth it's weight in gold, Elf on the Shelf book and little elf. My kids dubbed him Max William and raced out of bed each morning to see who could find him first. Max William would report back to Santa each night on the kids' behaviour and hence he was a fantastic little reminder that someone is watching. All I needed to do when things got hairy around here was glance over at where ever Sir Max was seated and it was enough to dispel most disagreements. I loved Max William and his magic, but he had to disappear Christmas Eve so I packed him up with all the rest of the Christmas paraphernalia. The kids missed his little presence too and asked about him occasionally. I reminded them (and myself) he would come back the morning after Thanksgiving.

Wouldn't you know, my little PDA (also known as Teresa) muttered as she snuggled to sleep Thanksgiving night that she couldn't wait to see Max William the next day. Oh Shit! I was exhausted, not to mention stuffed as full as the turkey I had just helped consume, and I realized I had no choice but to crawl into the attic crawlspace to drag out the Christmas tubs and search through them to find our personal elf. Not wanting to be the one to kill the magic for my kids, I thumped into the crawlspace on my hands and knees, waving my arms in front of me every foot or so, just in case of spiderwebs don'tcha know, and then crawled back again dragging a tub out with me. I did this four times. And yes, I waved my arms ridiculously each and every time because the spiders could be there, you never know. I found Max William in the box he was hiding in and perched him up on the chimney pipe and went to bed.

The first thing the kids found the next morning, after Max William, were the four tubs of Christmas decorations, which is why we decorated a bit earlier than usual. We actually don't have very much in the way of decorations. We have ornaments for the tree and stockings and lights. We have some homemade trinkets my children crafted at school and daycare. I have a few little village houses I line up on my kitchen windowsills and some silly singing mice. We also have four nativity sets. My parents gave us a set where the figures are quite big and also quite breakable. In fact, Sam's first Christmas as a walker, he broke several, so that set hasn't seen the light of day since. We also have a Fontanini set that I like to add to. Right now we just have the stable, Holy Family, Wise men and the drummer boy. Eventually I hope to have the whole cast of characters. While this set isn't breakable I really don't like the kids playing with it so I purchased two little creche sets just for them. Fisher Price's Little People Nativity set was the first and then I got them the Playmobil version. These toys get played with non-stop from the moment they come out of the tub.

The kids call them the "Jesus sets" and they fight over who gets to be whom. Today as I was making dinner they were playing with the Jesus sets in the living room. Sam likes to be the animals. He started out mooing, baaing and making some noise that he supposes a camel would make. But you can only convey so much with barnyard sounds, so Teresa had the angel sprinkle pixie dust to make the animals talk. Hmmmmm, I think they are getting the Bible and Disney a wee bit mixed up. Baby Jesus was quite the little trouble maker. He wouldn't stay in his manger and teased all the animals incessantly. In fact Mary had to come out of the stable hollering "JESUS!!!" as often as I seem to do. At one point, Mary announced to the shepherds, Joseph and assorted wisemen and animals that she was going in to do her hair and they needed to keep their eyes on the baby Jesus. Oh, the brouhaha when Joseph hollered to her and she had to stop what she was doing because that baby had climbed to the top of the stable. She actually told the Son of God that he had to climb down IMMEDIATELY if he wanted to continue to be a member of the Holy Family. Their version of the Christmas story may not be very accurate and could even be considered blasphemous but oh, my Lordy, is it ever funny. I think they should take the show on the road.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Blessings

Hugs and kisses hello
Family spilling from one room to the next
Perusing the circulars looking for bargains
Much loved dishes...mashed potatoes and turnips anyone?
Listening to Dad retell the story of how he set the barn on fire the year he smoked a turkey
Pumpkin Pie

Mumma's matter who makes them

My little girl dressed as a Pilgrim

Cranberry Orange relish...homemade of course

Crowded tables

Clean up made easier when done en masse


Football (hey, it keeps the menfolk outta our hair)

Sitting around the dining room table and picking at all the desserts

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For today and all it's blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude. (source not known)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

two projects to keep little hands busy this Thanksgiving

Festive Thanksgiving Turkey

You will need a toilet paper tube (cut in half), markers, paper coffee filter, water and paint brush, glue stick and turkey parts (I printed mine out from dltk craftsite or you can just draw your own). I love using coffee filters with magic markers. When you "paint" them with water the effect is beautiful! For this project the children begin by coloring with markers onto the coffee filter.

Once it is completely colored (or even mostly colored) the kids can use a paintbrush dipped into water and "paint" the entire coffee filter. This will cause the colors to run and blend. Set that aside to dry. Next have the children color the parts of the turkey on the paper; head, body (which will wrap around the toilet paper tube), feet, wings and wattle. I cut out the pieces for the kids because they are small.

Then the kids can use glue sticks to glue the body around the toilet tube, head onto tube, wings and wattle. For the feet, I had the kids spread some glue on the inside of the tube and bend the back of the feet up into the tube. Once the coffee filter dries, glue around the edge and fold it in half. The kids should also put glue on the back of the tube turkey and press the folded coffee filter onto the back. Once dry, you've got a very cute centerpiece or place setting for your Thanksgiving table.

Cornucopia (I got this idea from FamilyFun magazine)
This is a great project or activity to have going on while the kiddos are waiting for their Thanksgiving dinners. You will need a sugar cone and an assortment of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, or whatever catches your fancy. Katie wanted marshmallows so we went with it. You will also need a small plate. I put all the ingredients into small bowls and scattered them around the table within easy reach of the children. Make sure the children wash their hands too. There will be nibbling as the children craft their cornucopias so make sure to have enough for crafting and eating.
Each child will need a sugar cone and a plate. Just let them stuff their cornucopias (sugar cones) with whatever foods they like until they are overflowing with plenty. This is easy enough for toddlers just make sure it's okay for them to eat whatever foods you are using.

The finished Horns of Plenty would also make cute centerpieces or place settings. This one was made especially by Katie for her Mimi's Thanksgiving table. Or the kids can just go ahead and gobble them up. Either way they should be a hit.

Monday, November 24, 2008

MVP...Most Valuable Patron Saint

I think I'm doing a pretty good job raising my kids to be good Catholics. I take them to Church...most of the time. We say prayers before dinner, at the start of the day and before bed. I teach them about God and read or tell them stories from the Bible. They know some of the basic prayers by heart. By God, you should hear them rattle off grace before's barely intelligible they say it so fast. So, you see,I thought I was doing a pretty darn good job. Maybe, I shouldn't be so quick to give myself some props.

Our church is housed in an old supermarket. Don't tell anyone, but we jokingly refer to it as "Our Lady of the Plaza" (chuckling and cringing as I wait for the lightning bolt to smite me dead). The powers that be have done a very nice job converting it to look on the inside like an actual church. I especially like the alter. It has a small pool of water with a little waterfall and flowers all around it. Our Priest told us that they used to have small fish swimming in there but they had the horrible habit of leaping out to die during his sermons. The people in charge of decorating the alter always do something special with this little water feature and my kids always have to check it out...up close. So unlike the entire rest of the congregation, instead of rushing for the exits upon the end of Mass, they race to the alter to soak up the beauty (hopefully not ever literally) of the little pool. The other day after admiring for a bit, we were making our way out and passed by the large statue of Mary near the front of the church. Katie looked up at it and said, quite loudly of course, "Wow! Look at that trophy! Who's trophy is that? They must won a lot of games because that is the biggest trophy ever!"

I couldn't help myself...I laughed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

her mood changes as often as the weather

There was a little girl
who had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
she was very, very good.

And when she was bad,
She was Horrid! she doesn't have a curl in the middle of her forehead. The nursery rhyme is still quite fitting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

we can cross soccer Mom off the list of things I'm good at

Soccer season just ended for my two soccer superstars. We spent Sunday afternoons, rain or shine, in our fold up chairs cheering them on as they ran aimlessly around the field chasing the ball. It didn't matter if they were offense or defense they still ran from one end of the field to the next hoping to kick the ball as hard as they could, most likely out of bounds. Seriously, they did have a real understanding of the positions by the end of the season (thanks Coach Mike and Coach Victor) despite the fact that they begged to be goalie every chance they could get. When it was sunny it was glorious but when it was cold and rainy I HATED IT!!! Anywho...some action they go chasing the ball this away...

and there they go chasing the ball a thata way.
forgetting that they're on the same team and talking trash to each other
Who would have thought I would ever have reason to yell "Teresa...stop hugging your brother!" but really can they just focus on, oh....I don't know....the GAME that's playing around them!!!
Yahoo!!!! For all everyone knows they dribbled it down the field, passing the ball off to each other and scored the winning goal. That's my story anyways (I know nothing about any balls being kicked out of bounds ;)
And what is a bored three year old to do all those endless Sunday afternoons? How about make some funny faces for Mumma's camera?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

the (little) people's court

The game du jour for my kids....Trials.

They take turns being the judge and the accused and (this gives me a chuckle) the storytellers, which is what they call lawyers. Joe and I get to play too. Today, Teresa put me on trial because I get mad and yell when brushing her hair sometimes. The god awful fit she pulls which is what sets me off, seemed to somehow slip her mind but I guess I can always put her on trial for that.

The accused sits on the couch and the judge starts the trial. He/She starts things off by asking the accused if they plead guilty or innocent. After the plea is entered the storytellers get to present evidence. In my defense, Katie told of all the good I do; reading stories, cooking foods and helping them. Sam piped up with the evidence of food cooked that he does not like and many nights we skip our chapter book because it's too late. Funny how not a shred of evidence was remotely connected to the charge, but fitting in it's own way. Each storyteller weighs in with whether they believe the accused is guilty or innocent and then the judge ponders all the evidence and pronounces a verdict. Punctuating it with a solid thump from a toy hammer. I have no idea how and where they learned so much about our justice system. I can see how the whole idea would appeal to a child though. Think of it...the power, the opportunities to air complaints and grievances, the toy hammer, and the giggles when Daddy is sentenced to "NO FOOTBALL! and NO SNORING!"

And, just in case you're wondering...I was cleared of all charges.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

true confessions

I need help talking to my kids about death. Lately it's been a constant topic of conversation for them...and us..because of course they have to draw me into it. This summer all three of our cats died. One right after the other. Now, while we loved our kitties, they were not real fond of us, and kept their distance, so I didn't think their deaths would phase the kids all that much. I'm so intuitive I tell you., yeah...not so much. The first one had to be put to sleep because she was ill and the kids moaned and sobbed for a good hour after I put her in the carrier to go to the vets. I might have been sneakier about getting the cat out had I known how traumatic this would be for them. Then the other two dying in quick succession only made things go from bad to worse. I am fairly truthful with them about death and what follows. We are Catholics so we believe that our souls eventually make their way to heaven, some spending longer in purgatory than others. but the death of our kitties made for some difficult questions.

First they wanted to know if cats had souls. I am of the belief that they do, I know that's not proper Catholic teachings but I'm an animal lover so ppphhhffffffttttt! So I told the kids of course they do and their little souls go straight to heaven. Sam, my scientist, then asked me what happens to their bodies. Hmmm. Okay. My response that "the bodies will decompose, crumble back into dirt" seemed to satisfy them. Phew! They weren't upset with this truthful answer. They asked their questions, listened to my answers and then went out to play superheroes. I patted myself on the back for being so forthright and not making up little stories that are ridiculous so as not to upset them . I am so so good at this parenting thing.

Later that night, long after they had been put to bed, kissed good night, prayers recited and stories told, I heard the thump thump thump of not so little feet come pattering down the stairs. They made their way into my room and there was sad little sniffling Teresa. Sam followed after her, trying hard to comfort her. Honestly, I think he realized this was a grand way to postpone bedtime because in between his concerned looks I caught him looking quite happy. I asked Teresa what was troubling her and she said between sobs that she didn't want to die and asked "Am I going to die like the kitties?" Alright...truth or little white lie???? I made a split second decision to go with truth and I told her that we all die eventually but most people live long long long long long long lives. She stopped crying and looked at me in horror..."Are YOU going to die too?" Well, yes...but not for a super super long time. I still had lots of living left to do. This made the sobbing worse. She couldn't decide whether she was more frightened of her own death or mine. Then Sam, my Nobel prize winning scientist in the making, puts two and two together. "Mumma!" he shouts "Mumma, does that mean that we turn into dirt too...just like the kitties?"

That was it. Teresa could barely catch her breath she was sobbing so hard. When not sobbing, she was moaning that she did not want to turn into dirt. That she loved her body and did not want it to be underground and help plants grow. Why would God make such a horrible yucky thing happen to her.

OH. MY. GOD. Look at the freaking mess I made of this one. As it got later and later and as the hole I dug for myself got deeper and deeper I finally caved.

I told her that she wouldn't turn into dirt.

She looked at me and asked sceptically "then what will happen to my body?" Here's where it gets really bad. I told her that God will bring her right up to heaven, body and soul. She was still sad about the dying part of it all and continued sobbing. I, not so patiently, asked why she was still crying and she went on to lament how lonely she will be without all of us. Why, of course we'll all get to be together in heaven. That's for certain. Still sobbing. Because she doesn't want us to go to heaven before she does or she'll be lonely on earth but she doesn't want to go before any of us either because then she'll be lonely in heaven. I was in so deep at this point I told her not to worry. We're all going to die at the exact same moment, we'll live together happily in heaven, talking and laughing and having a grand ole time. Finally...finally, she stops with the crying and and asks me "Then it's just like here. Why do we have to die and go to heaven for that? Why can't we just stay here?" I threw in the towel and asked her if she wanted candy. That distracted her long enough that I could change the subject and I got them some more water and walked them back up to bed. After a bit they both fell asleep.

I lay there next to them for a bit. Wondering how it got so that I was promising my children that they would be assumed into heaven body and soul. The first to do that since Mary the mother of Jesus. I really need to go to confession. How awful is it that I lied AND I lied about GOD stuff??? I think I may have extended my stay in purgatory with this little conversation.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Birthday...times eight!!!

My boy turned eight years old today. Eight years old and he's already ditching his Mumma to go to the Celtic's game. I thought I had at least ten years before sporting events trumped ME.

Even though I've been ditched I still want to shout out a big huge "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" to my amazing, curious, compassionate, silly, laughing, sensitive Sammy Kabookie. You inspire me to be a better person just by being who you are. Who knew my little guy would have so very much to teach me. I love you Sam!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

not sure this class was sanctioned by the Red Cross

Last week I had to renew my Infant and Child First Aid and CPR. While I know how vitally important it is to keep these skills current I really dread taking the classes. They are sooooooooo long and sooooooooo boring. Most of the instructors rely heavily on the videos and I sit there watching until my head begins to nod, because of course I always sign up for a class that meets from 6:00 till 10:00 pm. Not a good time for someone like me who is an early to bed, early to rise kind of gal. This past renewal I let mine expire so I couldn't take the refresher course, it had to be the whole shebang. The CPR portion was on one night and was predictably boring. The First Aid portion followed two nights later and it was the most bizarre class I have ever participated in.

As the class began I noticed the instructor had a unique way of speaking. He would begin speaking about a topic, burns for example and start telling us the steps we should take and then, abruptly stop. He would sometimes stop and look quite blankly at us (think Jim from Taxi). Other times he would look over at the television which was on a blue screen waiting for him to press play, which by the way he never did. After he stared for a bit at the tv, most of us started looking over at the tv too, as if expecting something to happen. No matter how many times he did this, we never failed to follow his gaze to the tv and not once did it do anything. He would also stop and just look down at the floor. Most of these pauses were followed up with an emphatic "check, call, care" from the instructor. He repeated "check call care" after every other sentence. "Do no harm" was his other mantra. If he didn't follow up a long pause with "check call care" it was "do no harm" He was once was an EMT and he also seemed to happen upon an inordinate amount of injured people. We listened to a lot of stories about his experiences. One of my favorites was the time he was at a baseball game and he saved someone's severed finger by tossing it into his cooler. He was like the McGyver of First Aid and used duct tape for everything; splints, neck injuries and even a gurney. He also detailed exactly how to preform CPR using plastic bags and tshirts if you don't have gloves and a face shield. He did not seem to appreciate questions. He either gave that Jim from Taxi stare or reminded us yet again to "check call care" regardless of what the question was. One woman asked if he would go over splinting an arm and making a sling and he told her "if you want to know how to do that sign up for the wilderness course. Just check call care and before you know it EMS will have arrived. DO NO HARM." I actually began to wonder if perhaps he had hidden the real instructor in the closet and was just some nutjob from the street.

I started jotting down some of his advice and comments because I knew I'd never remember them later (damn you, senility!) and they are jewels of hilarity.
  • Children are like big people, but smaller.
  • This is WAY too complicated...just check call care and wait for EMS.
  • There is nothing YOU can do about a neck injury...check call care and do no harm.
  • The only thing to take away from all that (chapter on heat stroke and heat exhaustion) is drink liquids like there's no tomorrow and if you stop sweating...start worrying.
  • Let's go over a few things because there are some important things in here (said during the last 10 minutes of class in preparation for the big test).
  • there usually isn't clean cloths whenever the body parts start falling off
  • Not much you can say about poisoning...don't let your kids drink crap.

So I apologize to anyone who may need first aid and gets stuck with me. I can make a hell of a gurney out of duct tape and plastic drinking straws but I won't be able to do much else for you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

why election day is so important

This isn't going to be your typical election day post. You see, election day holds a very special place in my heart. I can't think about it without going all misty eyed and sappy. It marks the day I became a mom. I went into labor with Sam the morning of November 7th 2000. George W Bush was running against Al Gore. I woke up about 5:30 and felt kind of crampy and had a slight backache. Of course I called my parents and described what was going on. My Dad, an ob/gyn, said it certainly sounded like the start of labor. Joe and I were so giddy with excitement. I didn't feel bad at all so I decided to go into work since I only worked until 11:15. Dad said chances are I would still be in early labor at that time and it may help to pass the time. He also remarked "I wonder whether we'll have a new president or a new baby first?" I hoped to God it would be a baby.

Packed my bags and threw in a change of clothes and some towels (Mom's recommendation) and headed off first to our local high school to vote. I waddled in to do my civic duty but by the time I left I was feeling a bit more sluggish. I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the morning with twenty 5 year olds anymore. My doctor's office was in the same town as my school so I headed over to school anyways and put a call in to the doctor's office. They told me to come in at 9:00. The cramps at this point were stronger and I had trouble bending down. Thank goodness my aide came in to take over as the kids arrived. I started showing her around and going over my plans when I felt this strong urge to use the bathroom. And that's when I had a moment. You know, when all of a sudden you have a huge "AHA!" I realized I wasn't in early labor anymore...I was having the baby. And I must have said that out loud because my students started jumping and clapping and hollering "hooray!!!" I just wanted to cry, because CHILDBIRTH was definitely NOT on the curriculum.

My aide rushed to get the school nurse and I called the doctor's office back to say I was going straight to the hospital. I then called my husband and told him to meet me at the hospital. My school nurse escorted me to her car and I stopped. I could not get in. It was her brand spanking new red Volvo. What if my water broke all over her pristine leather seats. Not just mortifying but really kind of gross. She insisted it was fine but I whipped the towels out of my bag and lined her seat just in case. The hospital was a short five minute ride from school and it passed in a blur since the cramps were now contractions and coming practically one on top of the other.
I was wheeled straight up to maternity and into a hospital gown so the nurses could examine me. I think I was their star pupil because my labor nurse proudly announced I was 10 centimeters to everyone that walked by and my water broke as soon as I lay down in the delivery bed. I never planned on having a natural birth so I asked about meds but they just laughed. My labor nurse told me something I actually already knew. This baby was nearly point for meds now. At that point, I really really wanted my husband and couldn't understand where he was. I also couldn't help notice the whispering between the nurses as they came in to check on my progress. In between two contractions I asked my nurse where my husband was (I have no idea why I thought she'd know) and where my doctor was. She looked me in the eye and said "There's a real possibility you will have this baby before either your husband AND your doctor get here."

Okay, I would hate for Joe to miss the birth of his first child but could live with it. The doctor you ask...apparently there was quite the drama unfolding behind the scenes. Unbeknownst to me, there was a little snafu concerning the doctor. They couldn't find her. No husband I could handle but NO DOCTOR! I was in a freaking hospital! It was full of doctors! Couldn't one of them be pulled in for a side job for crying out loud? A few minutes later Joe strolled in and had the shock of his life. There I was, legs up and the nurses cheering his arrival and exclaiming over how much hair they could see on the baby's head. Which, he too could see very well for himself. He had the nerve to scold me saying "You told me having a baby takes hours and hours!" Oh, sorry...I guess I forgot to tell you I signed up for express birth. By then I was begging to be allowed to push and was finally given the go ahead. A midwife was brought in to make the catch and Samuel Robert entered the world a mere 25 minutes after I entered the hospital. The doctor...she actually arrived about 10 minutes after Sam did. Ah, yeah, thanks but we're good...see baby in my arms, not abdomen.

As I basked in new Mom bliss I watched the election results coming in all over the country. And realized I was watching history unfold before my eyes. Not just our personal family history but history for the textbooks kind of history. The weeks after Sam's birth were full of chads of all kinds, last minute court rulings and counting and recounting of votes and diapers...lots and lots of diapers. I was reminded how very important it is to cast my vote. I watched, along with the rest of America, the drama that was the 2000 election. It didn't matter whether you were rooting for George W or Al Gore, the message was loud and clear. Every vote counts. So, make sure you get to your local polling place today and vote. If I can get in and vote while in the middle of such a life altering moment like giving birth, you can get there too.

Go. Vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

a feast for your eyes...and your tummy

I made these little pretties with Katie and a few of the daycare kiddos. We used cookie cutters to cut leaves out of pie crust and sandwiched chocolate chips between two. Sprinkled 'em with colorful sugars and baked 'em up in the oven. So simple and simply stunning. I served them to the kids for afternoon snack. Teresa hadn't participated in the making and baking and when she saw them she caught her breath and exclaimed "I wish my food was always this beautiful!"