Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sleep-over! Just Kidding.

Last year in early December I let the girls have a cookie and ornament-making extravaganza. It was out of control non-stop fun. I didn't have it in me this year. When Kate started requesting it I told her that maybe, instead, she could have a couple of friends come have a sleep-over. She asked if Catherine and Margaret could come. She would gladly have invited the entire Third Avenue Gang, but I thought 2 was about as many as I could manage, and even then, I would require ample reinforcements.

So the kids came over with Kore and Brendan and as planned, we fed everyone pizza. The girls got hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows while the grown-ups imbibed and chatted in the kitchen, a safe distance from the kids. Just like God intended. Monkey hung out with the girls. you can see the slightest wisp of brindle there between Catherine and Kate on the couch. That's the M-Dawg. We knew it was unlikely that these youngin's would be up for an actual sleep-over. When both Catherine and Margaret professed their desire to stay over, we ushered them upstairs for potty, tooth-brushing and story time. All those things went off without a hitch.

Then it was time to actually go to sleep. That's where the difficulty arose. By 9:15 Kore was weary of the trips up the stairs and we all agreed that these kids were never going to go to sleep. If they were older, we'd have just left them to it. They're not, though, and we're all tired. So the girls would go home. This caused literal wailing and gnashing of teeth. To our amusement, yet another gathering ended with Brendan slinging Catherine over his shoulder and hauling her off to her bed while she screamed like a banshee the whole way home. Then our girls were devastated. They've only just now stopped whimpering and begging me to go back in their room. We will try this again. Probably not tomorrow.

Two Cool Local Cats, Rex and Pete.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Few Christmas Highlights

Not wanting to be slaves to the camera this Christmas, we missed a great many photo ops. There is a lot of cuteness in our house this year, too. We've got our own kids and puppy, plus my parents' black lab, Farley, who adores Monkey, and Chris and Sonya's pooches. Plus, my parents, Marige and Chris and Sonya...they're pretty cute. Here are a few highlights we did manage to grab. Others got some good stuff as well, and if we can get our collective act together I'll share more.

First, we had a lovely Winter Solstice.

Next, we received a giant box filled with goodies from the Nebraska Provosts. The girls liked the box the best. It was a fort, a giant present filled with kids, a drum, a canvas, a spot to plop the puppy...I forget what else, the list is very long.The girls helped bake, and then selected and set out cookies for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer (see us supervising below? Gotta make sure that goes well or Santa will pass you by). Santa's team knocked those back with some 12-year-old Scotch. Even the carrots.

The grandparents all received a book of photos of the kids (and us, a bit). It made 2 of the grandmothers cry. I hope those were tears of joy.

The kids opened their stockings and a couple gifts and then the camera was abandoned. That's how you know we all had fun.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

She's Got the Moves

Jeremiah and Sarah headed out to run some errands while Kate remained at home with me. I was not terribly entertaining to her once I ran out of things to give her to do to help me with my holiday baking. Suddenly I noticed a silence. "We need Christmas music to make Christmas presents, don't you think?" I asked her. She concurred, while running in tight circles in the kitchen with a very happy Monkey. I put in the Roaches Christmas album and Kate launched into interpretive dance rounded out with some mesmerizing hip wiggles. For awhile I watched with amusement, noting that Kate dances almost exactly like her Uncle Kevin, while continuing to work on my food projects. Finally I could not control my desire to document this whirling dervish. It was not easy to get this down to 12 pictures.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Missing Children

We'd had a lovely evening, the girls were adorable and Steve and Joy had joined us for dinner. It was time to turn off all the lights and double check the locks on the door and, of course, check to be sure the children were breathing.

Jeremiah and I both headed upstairs. While he was drawn to the computer like a moth to the flame, I went straight to the girls' room to admire the angelic cuteness sleep affords them. Kate was snoring in her footy pajamas, hair all asunder on her pillow, very sweet. Sarah was...not there. That was unexpected. The room was dimly lit with nightlights, so I looked more closely on the floor, where she likes to bed down on her lion rug. Not there. So I peeked on the glider but no joy. Next I checked to see if she'd gotten up and padded downstairs to the guest room. Then I checked our room. Then I started checking closets. Now Jeremiah had joined the search party.

At this point I'm sure you're thinking, just as we were, "oh no, space aliens". Just as I began to fret about anal probes (like I need a reason), I saw Jeremiah kneeling on the floor in the office, holding up the slip cover to the daybed. The daybed has a trundle under it but we recently got new beds for the girls and, for just a couple pay cycles, opted to use the mattresses off those beds on the kids' new ones, leaving a big space there. I joined Jeremiah on the floor. Sarah beamed out at me - "hi, mommy!". She was playing with a couple dolls and Kate's lip balm. Her entire mouth region was shiny. "What are you doing down there, Sarah?" Jeremiah asked her. "Well, " she said, as if it were obvious, "I'm playing with my dollies."

I pulled her out from her secret fort and took her back to her bed. "I made my bed, mommy!" she declared. She had. It looked very nice. I unmade her bed and tucked her in it for the second time that night. "Please go to sleep, Sarah" I said. "OK" she promised, but I could hear her softly singing to herself as I left her room. I was just glad she hadn't been abducted by aliens.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Tree, but Not Much Else, Gets Decked

When I was growing up, we took turns each year putting the star on top of the Christmas tree. I have pictures of tiny me on my mom's shoulders placing the star. This was Kate's year.

It took me awhile to get all the lights on the tree. I always do the lights because I'm a bit of a psycho-control-monster about them. It's not my fault. I'm certain it's genetic, Dad. While waiting for me to finish up the proper light placement (what?!? It matters) the girls decorated Jeremiah instead.

I finally got the Christmas village set up out of kid and pet reach. Eventually the rest of the house will get decorated...probably just before it's time to take all the decorations down. Oh well.

Little Red Gets Down

It's the end of the semester at Drew Charter School, and subsequently the end of this round of After School Program classes. Have I mentioned these classes? They are awesome like a hotdog. Kate took Fairy Tale Theater, Puppetry and Dance all semester long and from what I can tell, she loved them all more than anything else about school. I love the After School Program for easing my working-mother guilt feelings...and for making Kate happy.

Last Tuesday the ASP kids put on a super spectacular showcase for all us parents and their friends to let us know what they've been up to lo these past months. It was delightful. Jeremiah, Sarah (see how happy she is to be at Kate's show? When Kate spotted her in the crowd from stage she waved and blew her kisses), Steve and I were all in attendance (Joy had to take Stelle to the vet and was stuck there, causing her to miss the show. Stelle is now fine.) It took awhile to get things going, but once they did we were impressed. As I watched class after class strut their stuff the thing that struck me most was that all the kids - pre-K to 8th grade - were just thrilled to be up doing their thing. No one seemed overcome by nerves or awkwardness. These kids were poised and smiling and in some cases (Kate's), bouncing off the walls.

Fairytale Theatre did a very Greek version of Red Riding Hood in which the majority of the kids were the funky chorus, dressed as forest animals and occasionally chanting "Little. Red. Riding Hood. Girl, you know that wolf's no good!" Kate was Red Riding Hood. Aunt Jo Jo made her a red, lined hood. Little Red is spoiled. There was a narrator (good thing) and most importantly, Kate got to karate-chop the wolf, then grandma came out of the closet (literally, not the other way) and also karate-chopped him. No woodsman. Girl power. Kate was beaming.After martial arts, etiquette (I know, right?), break dancing, step, and crocheting was Kate's other class, dance. A huge class for all ages, these kids did the grand finale, a tribute to Michael Jackson. Some of the kids even learned to moonwalk. The whole thing made the girls late getting to bed and us starving, but it was worth it. Two hundred kids in the ASP. All cute. How does that even happen? Check out how Kate is always doing something slightly different from the other dancers...that's my girl.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Keep Your Shirt On

I know, mom, it's been awhile since I've posted.  Yes, we're all OK, no need to send a concerned note.
We are very, very, very, very (etc) busy.  Here's an example of how busy we are.  I cannot find my wedding and engagement rings.  I know they are in the house, I took them off to put on lotion or some such thing.  Now I don't see them.  Given the way my little Gollum made off with one of mom's shiny-shiny rings and hid it in her lair, I expect I will need to conduct a thorough search of the bedroom and playroom for my own  I do not have time for that right now.  Under normal circumstances, this sort of thing would induce a mild, internal panic.  I have actually found myself thinking "I need to panic about this but when can I fit that in...?"

So, you see, it's like that.  Delightful photos of the girls decorating and playing with the puppy as well as Kate's stage debut as Red Riding Hood are forthcoming.  I promise.  Seriously.  I'll do it. 

Gotta go.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Since we lost Lola, the lack of dog in the house has been terrible.  The girls talk about her all the time.  They've pulled out all their stuffed dogs and have been hosting tea parties for them.  They took out all the books they have about dogs so they can "pick out the perfect dog for us."

I couldn't get past the lack of puppy-head in the window when I pulled into the driveway each evening.  Something had to be done.  We knew we wanted a puppy and we knew we wanted another boxer.  We also wanted a rescue dog.  Those three things aren't always easy to find when you want them.  However, as Jeremiah scoured the internet he came across a litter of brindle boxers, 9 weeks old, whose mama had died 2 days after giving birth to them.  The owners bottle fed the pups until they could be weaned, then gave them to an animal shelter, which gave them to a rescue in Madison, Ga (Companion Animal Rescue), the very same town from which Lola hailed.  Kismet!

Yesterday, Jeremiah and I sneaked off without the kids, and picked up our new puppy.  He is impossibly sweet.  I wish we had video of the kids meeting him.  What a love fest!  He is tolerant, playful and snuggly.  He already whines at the door when he needs to pee.  Most of the time.  He has been named Monkey.  I have already decided he's going to be a mama's boy.

Frog Princesses

When we skipped gymnastics the other week in order to attend the big Disney hoo-ha for the Frog Princess, we won passes to skip gymnastics yet again, and go to a pre-opening screening of the movie, preceded by a festival of sorts.  It started at 9AM yesterday.  Let me tell you something, to be in Atlantic Station by 9AM in order to be surrounded by a bunch of squealing princesses is too much for me.  Holy crap, what a scene.

We'd planned to feed everyone a big ol' bowl of oatmeal prior to this shindig.  I scooped out the very last of my rolled oats and let the cooking begin.  Then I picked up my oats container to wash it.  When I looked in the bottom, I noticed it was moving.  The floor of the container was teeming with wiggly little bugs.  So.  That was horrifying.  The girls ate waffles, but I only managed to dig up about 1/4 cup of cereal and Jeremiah ate nothing.  All those princesses on an empty stomach...

The girls had a wonderful time.  They were so very excited they couldn't stop giggling and bouncing.  They bounce a lot.  They made "froggy in the water" cupcakes, listened to Miss Georgia Peach read Pinkalicious (you can tell she'd never read it before) and Sarah got a make-over. 

The movie was delightful, though.  A nice story with good music and a truly frightening villain.  I know my old co-worker who was from Haiti and studied religions of the world would have been highly offended by the treatment of Voodoo (as always) as nothing but dark arts and witchcraft, but hey, black princess! 

Most importantly, the girls are both in the AJC this morning. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Kids Are Thankful for...

The girls climbed into bed with us this morning and snuggled in.  "Happy Thanksgiving!" Kate chirped.  We asked them what they're thankful for.

"Pancakes!" Sarah shouted.
Kate began, "I'm thankful for the award my teacher gave me for my diorama, my dance teacher, not living in an orphanage, corn, my DVDs [she is actually still listing these out individually as I write this], chiropractors, dresses..."

The list continues.  Poor Sarah, we didn't even make pancakes this morning.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Aquarium - Disney Whore

Today we skipped gymnastics.  Instead, we headed to the aquarium where any little girl dressed like a princess would get in free and get to meet scores of real princesses and play with frogs, all in honor of the upcoming release of Disney's new film - The Frog Princess.  We're members, so getting the girls in free is not exciting to us, and we're well aware this was a giant marketing event.  We willfully embraced it because our kids love to put on princess dresses and go out and they love the aquarium.  You've won this round, Disney.

Kate and Sarah got to meet Jasmine, Ariel, Pocahontas and the new chick, Tiana.  You can tell Kate thought they were the real ones, because she was totally star-struck.  Then we learned all about frogs.  The girls snatched up yummy food with their party horn tongues, just like those party-frogs like to do it.  Then came the hunger.  We left to get some barbeque from Fox Brothers - out on the patio in fine weather.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

AM shower time

If I ever want to shower in peace I have to get up before the girls and be quick about it or do it late at night.  Otherwise, I can count on at least one little kid plastered up against the shower door, demanding I write letters in the steam for them.  This morning it was Kate.  She chattered away for a bit while I kept saying "what's that Kate?  It's hard to hear you over the water...speak up".  Then she started doing the pee-pee dance and disappeared into the little water closet.  From there, she began talking to me again.

"Whawha wha wha wha wha..."  she said.  "WHAT?"  I called back.  At the exact same level, she repeated herself.  I began to worry slightly.  Often there are toilet-related issues, especially in my bathroom where the toilet is slightly higher and the toilet paper, on a light stand, is often placed out of the reach of little ones.  They are impatient and the whole thing can turn out...messy.  "Honey I can't hear you, is everything okay over there?" I called to her.  Same thing, still much too quiet.  Now it was taking awhile and I began to fear the sort of mess one doesn't wish to face first thing in the morning.  I raced to shave that last bit of leg and rinsed off.  I turned off the water and hurriedly patted myself dry while still trying to coax the issue out of her, if for no other reason than to steel myself.  "What did you say Kate?  I couldn't hear you."  At that point, all I did hear was her exasperated sigh.  Why on earth was she still on the toilet?

I all but fell out of the shower and peered in at her.  There she sat, calmly atop the throne (where the princess belongs, right?), toilet paper easily in reach.  Relieved, I said "now, what were you trying to tell me?"

"I said, " she explained "that coral snakes are very dangerous."

Looking at my leg, I noticed an entire segment I'd missed with the razor.  "Yes they are" I agreed "deadliest bite in all of North America."  Some day, I will again enjoy the luxury of standing in a steaming shower for no good reason except that it feels nice, if only for a few blissful moments...this is a dream on to which I hold tightly.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Yesterday we were excited because, even though her appetite had not returned, Lola’s surgery was moved up and we were told we may be able to bring our 3-legged dog home as early as today. Jeremiah received a call from the vet (Village Vets, they were awesome) much too early. She said that when she shaved Lola to prep her for the operation, Lola began to bruise everywhere. She had no idea why this would be happening. When she did another blood test she found that Lola’s platelet count had pretty much bottomed out. Based on that, there was very little chance Lola would survive surgery, possibly even with a blood transfusion. They couldn’t put the surgery off any longer, because if her leg remained attached to her that could kill her.

Jeremiah and I rushed to the animal hospital. Lola lay on a table, already anesthetized, with a breathing tube in, her loose tongue clamped out of the way. She was covered in a towel and some sort of surgical blanket thing into which they were pumping (I assume) warm air. The vet showed us all the bruising. She was so shocked, I worried she might start crying. Jeremiah and I sat with Lola for awhile. We knew what we needed to do but neither of us wanted to say it out loud. We scrubbed her head, the little brown goober marking right on top. I leaned down and nuzzled her ultra-soft ear so I could feel it against my cheek one last time. Then we gave the vet permission to put her down. She’s been cremated and we will scatter her ashes right in our yard, over her favorite sun spot, where our vegetable garden will be planted.

Right now, we are sad beyond the telling of it. When I came home yesterday, she wasn’t watching me from the window in the TV room, and she didn’t run to the door to greet me, or leap in the air when I walked in. There was no need to do my regular recon in search of destroyed objects we failed to secure during the morning’s puppy proofing. We miss our dog. I cannot begin to count the miles she and I have walked together. We could not go anywhere in the house without her being under foot. When I showered, I always had to convince her to move so I could open the shower door to get out. She used to wake me up in the morning by tapping me with a paw so I would let her climb into bed with us. When Rex made a break for it and got outside, she always let us know. I once watched her herd him back inside. 

She guarded her babies so well we could not even bring her to the park when they went to play. If you sang Stevie Nicks to her – ‘it’s like the world we know, sings the song sounds like she’s singin’…’ when you got to the “oooo! Baby ooo! Baby oooo!’ part she would go nuts and leap up on you trying to get to the source of the “oooo!” She was terrified of thunderstorms. Her fear got so intense that more recently; she’d start to shake uncontrollably as soon as the barometer began to drop. She liked to chase flies and bees. We’d often find her staring intently, then jumping up and snapping at the air. The carpenter bees were the easiest to get.

The girls don’t really understand. They’re a little young, I think. Kate kind of gets it, she knows that Lola is gone like Motor. Sarah, who adored Lola from the time she was an infant, doesn’t seem to get it at all. I’m kind of glad for that. The house is much too quiet without Lola. Even at night, I miss her quiet snoring. Jeremiah and I keep thinking we see her here and there – scratching at the kitchen door, peeking her head around a corner to check on us. She was our over-zealous sentinel and our constant companion. It used to be that when I was sad, Lola would comfort me. Now I wonder if maybe she wasn’t on to something, and when you really miss someone, you should chew up a piece of their furniture and barf on their living room rug.