Sunday, December 30, 2007

Things that don't work

As most of you probably know, Georgia is in the midst of a serious drought. That being said, the steady rains of the past few days are, by and large, a welcome thing. However. It's raining in my kitchen. I mean REALLY raining. We have had a leak over the peninsula for some time but we're about to begin construction on a small addition and kitchen remodel that involves tearing the roof off the sucka so we've ignored it. Plus, it hasn't rained in months. But now it's not just raining there. It's raining in the entire back left portion of the room. That started today. I'm pleased it waited until today so I was able to enjoy my birthday yesterday (always my favorite day of the year) without worrying that the back portion of the roof is about to collapse on us. The weather sensed my birthday has ended. The place is soaked. We're thinking - tarp. Hopefully we can get that applied before we have to start thinking - hotel.

It's not just that, though. After the kicthenaid died, so did the garbage disposal. We paid a guy from Sears $65 to come out, take a look at it and inform us it's ancient and the motor did, indeed, die of old age. The water from the filter on the fridge won't come out. The cabinet that used to contain the slide-out trash can has been utterly destroyed courtesy of Lola. Not that this is all that important at the moment, but the brand new lawn mower we bought last summer worked exactly twice and now refuses to start. No, it's not the spark plugs. The top strand of lights on the Christmas tree died. And now that we've plugged in our fabulous new iMac (which, to my delighted surprise, works!) my wireless is no longer working. My iPod is not working. I am weary of things not working.

Perhaps it is a message that I should throw up my hands in surrender, and go sit in the living room by the partially lit Christmas tree and read, enjoying the gentle pitter patter of the raindrops on my...crap, grocery list. OK, maybe I won't be reading just yet. Tomorrow, when we've figured out how to navigate our fancy new machine, and assuming it's still working, I'll attempt to get some more Christmas photos loaded on this here blog.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

On the third day of Christmas...

I have a lot of photos from Christmas so I'm parsing them out over the extended holiday. I wish the governor would stop by my home because if he did, I'm sure he'd declare it a disaster area and I could really use some state funding to hire a maid. Here is the living room after Santa came. I know it's a bit dark and you can't really see the ridiculousness that occurs when there's not only Santa but Mommy & Daddy, 3 sets of grandparents, 5 sets of aunts and uncles and 3 rogue aunts in the mix, but you get the idea.

And here is the living room upon discovery the next morning (Note: When Kate woke up she said "It's Christmas!" and Jeremiah concurred. She then said "I should wear my Christmas dress!" and Jeremiah tried to convince her she should remain in her PJs, but she refused. We did not subject the children to such formal attire. We're PJs people as you can detect from the partial view of my Yummy Sushis in the background here.):

It took all day, because Sarah got tired and needed a 2-hour nap during present opening and because Kate wanted to play with each item she opened and because I got hungry and wanted to pause to make bagels. But after all was said and done, this is what we ended up with:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cookies for Santa

Jeremiah told me he was certain that Santa would really want the mocha double chocolate cookies I'm fond of making from Baking With Julia this Christmas Eve. Jeremiah and Santa are pretty tight so who am I to question? I had to work half a day on Christmas Eve, though, so I told Jeremiah that since the cookie dough needs to chill for several hours he was going to have to make this Christmas wish come true. I left him the cookbook and the stand mixer. When I got home that afternoon, he and the elves were hard at work.

When bedtime arrived, the girls were ushered upstairs to get in their PJs and then we came back down to put their carefully crafted baked goods out for the right jolly old elf. Kate carried the cookies to the living room and placed them on the coffee table with a surprising amount of pomp, while Sarah let us know what she thought of us for putting those cookies at her level but disallowing her to eat them. It was all very sweet and touching.

The next morning, we came out to the gift-PACKED living room (good grief) to find that Santa had enjoyed all the milk and all but a few crumbs of the cookies! Sarah ate those.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Anatomy of a Christmas card

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Poor little gingerbread people never saw it coming

Joe and Bucky of the Upper Third Avenue Joe & Bucky establishment left a basket of goodies on Steve & Joy's front porch addressed to Kate & Sarah. In the parcel, among other items, one adorable gingerbread house. Even though the gingerbread house resembled a real house in most ways (in fact it looked a lot like Greg's house across the street from Joe & Bucky's...hmmm...) the girls knew instantly it would taste good. Being funk-loving children, they tore the roof off the sucker right away.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Winter Solstice!

It's the first day of winter and our family's second official year of celebrating it. Back before new management took over and made Jesus the reason for the season, celebrations of the solstice were chiefly about light and renewal. Pagans decorated evergreens in celebration that, even though the earth seems dead and barren in winter (except, what ho! These trees remain green!), spring will return with the sun and with it, sustenance from the earth. It is a celebration encased in faith that where there is death, there will also be resurrection. I guess you could also go with It's Not Dead, It's Only Resting. At any rate, Sound familiar?

I read up on the traditions of old. Sorry, Olde. We chose a few that felt like us. The mistletoe, it just happens, was meant to hang in the doorway year round as a way to promote fertility. Not that we need help with that, indeed we make efforts to prevent it, but we like the broader sense of the term. That all of life will be fertile. So we keep ours up. It's meant to be changed at Halloween. We couldn't find any then but Joy brought us some from the entire yard waste bag of it her parents gave her from their yard. Next, we like the idea of keeping the fire burning all day, an ode to the sun and the fact that our days will now begin getting longer. We can't have a real fire in our fireplace because it will smoke us out. So we burn the candles in there all day. And, one of our own choosing, we select a dinner comprised entirely of comfort food. Tonight, a hefty risotto involving a bolognese. I think I'll have some tea to chase it. I like to keep the day low key and close to home. The girls and I spent some time in front of our fireplace on the sofa, looking at my and Jeremiah's wedding photo album. It was fun, two tiny, warm bodies on either side of me, pointing at the pictures. Kate named everyone she could. Sarah just made comical, disparaging comments about her gene pool.

We give the girls one earth-related gift for the solstice. This year it's a funky bird feeder of Kate's choosing. To my dismay, I realized I don't have a hook for it. Back to the hardware store with me! But tomorrow. Because tonight is all about hanging out in my jammies. Hope your day is cozy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lights in the attic

People keep asking me if Kate is now old enough to "get it" in reference to Christmas. Yes, I know exactly what they mean, but every time someone asks my mind whirls with all the potential definitions of "getting it" to which one might refer regarding the season. Oh, it's heavy alright. Has she embraced the spirit of giving? Does she understand the symbolism between light, the renewal of life (seasons cycle) and the idea of the birth of a savior who would subsequently die and be reborn? What Santa Claus has to do with it? The point of dragging a tree indoors?

The other night when we went to Steve & Joy's for the girls' sleepover, I let Kate bring their gift inside. I handed it to her when she emerged from the car and I said "I see Uncle Steve through the window, give him this and say 'Merry Christmas, I made this for you!'" I tell her stuff like that all the time and she never gets anywhere close to remembering her lines. Steve opened the door, Kate stepped inside, proffered the gift bag and very sweetly said "Merry Christmas! I made this for you!" I was surprised to note that it was nearly 20 minutes before Kate suggested that perhaps she should get a gift...

Last night Rusty and Jennifer stopped by with gifts for Kate & Sarah. Kate was watching them get out of their car and ran to greet them at the door. She opened the door and they said hello and she said "Do you have a gift for me?", like the troll at the bridge.

When people ask me that question, "Does Kate get it now?" I sigh and say "Oh yeah. She gets it".

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Something to snuggle with

Kate's been asking for a pink princess backpack now for months. was going to get her one but then she started asking, daily, for a Cinderella skateboard. What do you know, Disney makes those. Well, it's a scooter but we feel no real need to meet our deductible on health insurance next year so we're going for something more suitable to a 3 and 1/2 year old.

Aunt Jo Jo and Uncle Steve wouldn't let Kate go without the pink princess backpack, though. After all, a proper princess needs all the accessories while riding her stylin' skateboard (please don't tell her it's a scooter). The girls had a sleepover at their house this week and received their Christmas gifts from them. Sarah got a little babydoll who comes with her own stroller. She promptly evicted the tiny baby from her stroller and sat down in it and Kate pushed her all over the house in it. Kate opened her backpack. It was love at first sight. She slept with it.

In related news, this morning after Kate packed all her (and some of Sarah's) belongings into her princess backpack One-Word-At-A-Time-Sarah walked up to her, pointed at the pack and clearly said "That's a backpack." I do enjoy the language acquisition age because each day is full of fun surprises like that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Child Labor

In response to my post about my baking problem, Chaotic Joy said:

I absolutely can't comprehend this. Your kids are the same age as my little ones. How do you find all this time to bake? I can't even get dinner on the table each night without becoming a frazzled mess because Clara attaches herself to my leg. I am in awe.

It is indeed the case that I spent much of the weekend holding Sarah in one arm while dumping ingredients into bowls with the free hand. But the best thing to do with roving children while trying to get something done is - put them to work*.

*Children are gross, don't put them to work without first subjecting them to lots and lots of soap and water.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Santa's bakery

First of all, a big, hearty thank-you to Margie for combo birthday-Christmas gift of a brand new stand mixer. It arrived on Friday with its 6 quart bowl and its 575 watts of shear mixing power. New in the box from eBay. Hooray for eBay! Thanks also to mom and dad for offering to help with the same dilemma - only moments after we took Margie up on the offer. I am a lucky, lucky girl. Yes, Margie, Santa will bring you bagels for Christmas.

As soon as the mixer arrived at Jeremiah's office he alerted me. That was unfortunate because it was, like, 10AM on a workday and I was immediately unable to focus on anything but going home and making stuff. Somehow I made it through the day. I wonder if my coworkers could tell that while I was sitting in meetings with them I was mentally preparing a workflow of my weekend. Many of them will benefit from my labors, so I'm sure they'll forgive me.

Yesterday the "Iwantmymommy!Iwantmymommy!Iwantmymommy!" alarm went off at 6AM sharp. And so it was time to commence ta bakin'. First, I had to clean the kitchen from floor to ceiling because it was disgusting. I used an essential oil mix in my mop water of clove, cinnamon and sage and the kitchen immediately smelled like Christmas. Next, the endless parade of holiday music was lined up by the CD player. Finally, I was ready. Since then there's been little else going on here. It's now Sunday and I'm still baking. I can't stop. I'm like a crazy person. My feet hurt. I don't care. If Christmas arrives and I'm still doing this...please send help. I think I have a problem.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tree decorating and a diagnosis

At last, at last we finished decorating our Solstice/Christmas Tree. ( I guess insisting on referring to it as the Solstice Tree is sort of like calling Istanbul Constantinople.) We'd do a bit here and bit there but frankly, we had a lot of other crap to do. Joy came by for Tuesday night dinner, which Steve missed again due to some public meeting regarding the design of a park blah blah blah. While I was cooking in the kitchen, she took Kate into the living room to slap some dang balls on the tree we've sacrificed and dragged into the house.

Kate placed her special ornament, and Sarah's on her behalf, and then plowed ahead with anything Joy would hand her. I gave up cooking and starting taking pictures. Jeremiah plopped down in a chair with a beer while his kid decorated the tree for him. This is why we had them, afterall. As Kate found her rhythm of choosing an ornament, then sticking it on (the very same branch every time) the tree Joy said "Wow, Kate, I think you've got the swing of it!" to which, cryptically, Kate replied "I think you've got the flu."

It came out of nowhere and we laughed and laughed. Later, after both kids were in bed and we'd finished eating dinner Joy said "I'm going to be so mad if I get the flu".

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmastime is for hippos

Yesterday I picked the girls up at daycare and they were both in good spirits. I carried Sarah down the hall with the pixie-like Kate nimbly skipping beside me, in front of me, behind's a lot like hiking with the dog (except it's a short walk, indoors, on level ground and, mercifully, neither child ever runs off and finds poop to roll in subsequently requiring me to bathe them in a the freezing cold river.) Lately Kate has taken to wanting to climb into the car on Sarah's side. So I opened the door, let her in and buckled Sarah into her seat with the usual affirming nod of my head and a "buckle up for safety!", which I cannot stop myself chirping when I pin her down to her carseat for some reason, and a kiss on the forehead.

As I approached the other side of the car to buckle up Kate for safety she was licking the window. I tell myself I've seen her lick more disgusting things and live to tell about it and open the door to get her situated. "Do you have Big Boned Gal?" She more demands than inquires. Yes, I do. As I fumble for the KD Lang CD Kate begins to sing from the back seat. "She was a BIG boned gal from mmmmble mmblgberta, you just couldn't all her SMALL!" Once the song is playing, she grows weary of singing and tells me a series of things, all very important, most completely out of context to me and therefore seemingly nonsensical, ending in "and I want to see hippos!"

She wants to see hippos. I am instantly transported to Mrs. Gochenour's English classroom - a portable classroom - where we met in the evenings to review our grasp on vague and often obscure literature references for Valley Academic Competition for Excellence (VACE). A quiz game at which I played on the English team. At Christmastime the inherently hilarious Mrs. Gochenour read us A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas*. This is my favorite Christmas story. Out in the very deep snow the children, whose Christmas the story is about, make big footprints, telling each other "people will think there've been hippos!" and asking "what would you do if you saw a hippo?" The answer to this, of course, would be to roll him over on his back and tickle his belly. Having seen what Kate does when faced with a Caterpillar, I'm guessing she would not attempt to roll a hippo over. Mrs. Gochenour's rendition of the story still plays in my head as Kate babbles on and I hear her read "...what would you do if you saw TWO hippos?"

By the time we roll into the driveway (Kate has still not stopped talking and, to my delight, I see Sarah is looking at her with what must be a mixture of awe and annoyance) I have gotten to the part of the story when the fire department is called. The author's aunt comes down the stairs, sees the firefighters and, the consummate hostess, says "would you like anything to read?" Yes, I think, I know exactly what I'd like to read.

*Thanks for the link, my brothuh. Now I realize I was wrong about what you should do if you see a hippo, they prefer to be tickled behind the ear.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Quiet Time" named optimistically, foolishly.

Ahhhh...nap time. Sarah's had her swimming lesson. Kate and I have walked about 8 miles with breaks for hot chocolate and running in circles and screaming in the gazebo on the square in Decatur. Must be Saturday. The swim lesson always takes a lot out of Sarah and she'll nap for a solid 2 hours. And then...there's Kate.

We've long since abandoned the notion that Kate may actually sleep during the day and changed "nap time" to "quiet time" for her. During this period, she is banished to a bed, usually the one in the guest room, owing to the room's lack of toys and sundries, where she must remain for one hour. We allow her to bring books with her. Kate detests Quiet Time.

Today she was allowed to lie down in Mommy & Daddy's bed and listen to the radio, which is set to NPR. I turned it way down and closed all the blinds and tiptoed out to create a mood of quiet. I headed to the kitchen to plan this week's menu and the majority of our Christmas gifts (Do I love you? Expect something baked...) in peace. Jeremiah is out getting a haircut. The pets are napping in their respective sunny spots. This is the good life. Until...

Kate decided the radio should be LOUD and is now blaring opera and reading her books to herself at a level that exceeds that of the radio. And whining. "Uuuugggh! A mosquito bit me! [false] I don't wanna read that book! [thud]" Instead of creating the environment for my one @#$%ing peaceful hour in the entire day myself, it's being set by the 3-year-old in a black mood. I noticed I was pounding coffee and flipping through the pages of my cookbooks without looking at them. Why can't I find that one recipe I wanted? Who threw it away?!? I'll kill Jeremiah if he did!* As is so often the case at the end of this hour, I've gotten nothing done and am grumpy. I think I detest Quiet Time, too.

*This is an outlandish thought. Jeremiah never throws anything away and I complain incessantly about his packrat habits and "collections". If anyone threw a recipe away it was most certainly me. Which only makes me angrier.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Last Sunday we went to brunch with Steve & Joy, where Joy gave Kate a new "princess hairdo". Kate was in her favorite dress, looking formal, and her hair immediately began to fall down in spots. She would not remove her shades. We all agreed she looked very Morning After the Prom.

After brunch, Kate refused to come home with us, insisting instead that she go over to Aunt Jo Jo's to look at their Christmas tree. We don't have one yet, she remarked, pointedly. So off she went. While there, she enjoyed a picnic with some of her 3rd Ave friends, Ella, Catherine and Margaret. Here are some photos from the event. I call them "Sex In The City, The Early Years".

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A career in public speaking perhaps?

Young Sarah is already quite the speaker! Here's a list of things she can say so far in her young life:
Mommy (most important)
Daddy (most often)
Please (definitely not, as I first thought, a request for peas)
Hi Jo Jo!
Uncle Steve (comes out sounding like "I'm a sieve" but we know)
[vigorous nodding yes]

and just the other day, she very clearly said to me - "Monkey rabbit on the ATV". I'm not sure what that meant. When I told Steve that's what she said he nodded and said "they know things we don't". So true. So true.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Phone skillz

Uncle that you? Um...Uncle Steve? Is this thing even really a phone?