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  • A Fetching Young Man

    November 30, 2007

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    One of the many benefits of having a 4-year-old about the house is that you can easily convince them that going outside to fetch the newspaper in the freezing cold is fun!  Later I’m going to show him how the Swiffer works!

    The Tree

    I’m decking my halls y’all and working on my tree and spreadin’ the sparkly, so today I leave you with this post from December of 2005.

    * * * * *

    It is December 3rd, 2005 in the year of our Lord, and I am kicking off the season that celebrates His birth by standing on the top step of an 8-foot-ladder, where there is a sticker that reads “Only An Idiot Would Stand Here.” And for those idiots who can’t read, this point is illustrated with a picture of a stick man falling to his death.  Let’s bow our heads and have a moment of silence for the stick man. 

    So then.

    This Norman Rockwell scene is made even more ridiculous by the fact that it’s 80 degrees outside. I am wearing a tank top, shorts and flip flops and I’m sweating bullets as I try to coax, cajole and contort sparkly wired ribbon into appearing as though it fell effortlessly and naturally from heaven into cascading spirals onto my big fake tree. The thought that I might rather be doing something else, like flossing my teeth with an ornament hanger, crosses my mind.

    Why oh why do I do this? Because it’s our tradition.

    Two years ago, Sean was due on Christmas day he but came six weeks early. Needless to say, after a C-section and then the stress of having a baby in the NICU followed by the marathon sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn in the house, I was in no position/mood/state of consciousness to get on a ladder and put up a tree. My sister-in-law, Terrye, who is the nicest woman on the entire earth, came to my house and put up my tree that year, and it was never more beautiful. There were many nights that first Christmas season that Sean and the dog and I got up for 2am feedings and then snuggled together under the glow of the Christmas tree afterwards. I remember watching him sleep and trying to memorize his face as it looked bathed in Christmas light. I would bend my ear down low and listen to him breathe, amazed at what a miraculous thing that life is. Those are special memories for me. Those are memories I wouldn’t have had if it were not for Terrye putting up my tree.

    Last year I was recovering from thyroid cancer but I managed to put up a tree and all the trimmings anyway. Having been surgically relieved of my thyroid, I had the energy (and appearance) of a three-toed sloth, but it seemed important to maintain a sense of normalcy, which in December means doing too much, spending too much, eating too much and putting up a tree. But again, there were many nights last December when Antique Daddy and I just sat in silence on the sofa with a sleeping boy in our arms watching the lights twinkle on the tree. We didn’t have to look much beyond our noses to find blessings to count.

    So this year, once again, I am risking my life on a ladder to put up a tree because willful and wanton violation of OSHA standards is our tradition. And I am complaining the whole way because that is part of the tradition too. I know that my little family will make precious Christmas memories in the shadow and light of this tree in the coming days of December that I will store up and treasure in my heart long after the season has passed.

     And for that I would stand on anything.

    Santa Needs An Intervention

    November 29, 2007

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    Somewhere over Dallas, Santa made the unfortunate decision to stop by the drive-through liquor store.

    The Possum

    November 28, 2007

    Early, early one chilly morning last week, just as the sun glimmered on the eastern horizon, I sat at my desk in the kitchen wearing my hot pink chenille robe, plaid flannel jammie bottoms, long-sleeved thermal top and leopard print fuzzy slippers. I was minding my own business. I was drinking a cup of coffee.  I was reading your blog.  I was enjoying the warmth and snuggliness that is Pinkie (my robe, it has a name).

    As I got up to refill my coffee cup, I looked out the back windows and caught sight of something traipsing across my back yard towards the house. I’d noticed recently that something had been digging in my yard (again) and so I ran to the windows to investigate. And sure enough there WAS something traipsing across my backyard! An interloper! So I grabbed my shotgun and ran outside. Vittles! No, not really. I don’t have a shotgun. But a shotgun would have been a nice accessory to my outfit, don’t you think?

    When I got out there, I came face to face with a possum. We paused momentarily to give each other the fish eye. And then I remembered from my days of hiking in Yosemite that if you can make yourself look bigger you can scare off wild animals, like mountain lions. Now, I know this wasn’t a mountain lion, but why take a chance? The last thing I want in the genealogical record is to be the ancestor who was killed by a possum in her own backyard while wearing a hot pink chenille robe.

    So I unfurled Pinkie and held out my robe with both hands, and for all intents and purposes, I flashed the possum. And I also did an impression of a lion for effect. But the possum, he was not impressed with my impression of a perverted lion in a pink chenille trench coat. And he waddled off.  Waddled. Not scurried, not hurried, but waddled. He didn’t even bother to traipse he was so unimpressed. And then he disappeared into the hydrangeas.

    So, for good measure, I flashed him again and growled ferociously letting him know that I meant business, that I was a chenille force with which to be reckoned.

    But if you were the person who was out jogging at that particular moment, all you would have seen is a crazy lady out in her backyard at the crack of dawn wearing a hot pink chenille robe, growling like a psycho and flashing the hydrangeas.

    Uh, Thanks?

    November 27, 2007

    Sean’s BFF, Reagan, lives across the street.  They go to school together and ride bikes together and that kind of thing.  He totally adores her, even though they’re highly competitive and sometimes squabble like siblings.  Just recently I had to break up a heated argument over who has the biggest nose. Apparently when you are four, it’s very important to be the biggest in all areas, including the schnoz.

    At any rate, because of their friendship, Reagan’s mom, Jennifer, has become one of my dearest friends.  But like most women of four-year-olds, she was born when I was in high school.  And she is six inches taller than me, has long legs and weighs ten pounds less. And has great hair. And fabulous clothes.  Yet,  inspite of all of her many many flaws, I like her very much because I’m just kind-hearted like that.

    Didn’t know it was possible to digress even before starting a story, did you?

    But I digress.

    At any rate.

    I keep a picture of Antique Daddy and me on my desk, a picture that was taken of us shortly after we started dating back in the fall of 1996.  And if I do say so myself, I looked somewhat less hideous than I do today pretty good.

    The other day, Sean took notice of that picture and asked to see it.  I handed it to him and he inspected it closely before asking who it was. I told him that it was his daddy and me a long time ago.

    “Oh,” he said, “You used to be pretty like Miss Jennifer.”

    Oh well thanks a lot for THAT newsy update Mr. Mirror Mirror On The Wall.

    “Oh yeah?” I said, “Well Reagan’s nose is bigger than yours, so there.”

    No I didn’t really say that.  That would be so immature.

    No, I stuck my thumbs in my ears, waved my fingers and blew raspberries at him instead. Which I know will come back to haunt me.

    Edited to add:  In his clumsy little boy way, I *think* (hope?) what he was trying to say was, “Hey look! You used to have long blonde hair just like Jennifer!” Unfortunatley (for my ego) it sounded more like “What the heck happened here?”

    The Sweater

    November 21, 2007

    I have a love-hate relationship. With sweaters.

    They catch my eye in the store. They are so pretty. They call to me, “Pssst! Hey you! Over here! Touch me! You know you want to — I’m soft, you’ll like it. Trust me.”

    Never trust a sweater, trust ME on this.

    And like a sailor who can’t resist the call of the Sirens, I am unable to resist the call of the sweaters.

    So I sidle over to the rack and pull out just the sleeve of one lovely limey green cashmere and yes, I confess, I pet it, right there in TJMaxx. And then I rub it lightly on my cheek. I pull it from the rack and free it from the acrylic and cable knits and the lesser sweaters. I hold it up. To my heart. I sniff it! I embrace it! And yes! Yes! Yes! It is soft. It is beautiful. And then I imagine for a moment that I too will be soft and beautiful wearing it.

    I waltz The Sweater to the register, stopping to dip only once. Then I hand over my credit card signifying my promise to love The Sweater forever. I place the new limey green love of my life right next to me on the car seat, patting and stroking it as I drive it home where we will begin our life together. Joy abounds.

    When I get The Sweater home, I put it on. I look in the mirror. I am soft and not altogether hideous beautiful in The Sweater. We are a lovely couple, The Sweater and I. Even Antique Daddy thinks so. He cannot resist The Sweater either. He wants to pet it too. But then again, he likes to pet the coffee stained t-shirt I wear. Yet, still. It is my new sweater and I am in love.

    The next day, things begin to sour between The Sweater and me.  The Sweater is high maintenance.  The Sweater is needy. The Sweater wants to be washed. By hand. With special soap. Or better yet, The Sweater wants to be taken to the dry cleaners, which we all know is just a spa for sweaters. If anyone is going to the spa, it’s me and not The Sweater.

    I sigh loudly and then I run a warm bubble bath for The Sweater.

    The Sweater can’t go in the dryer like the other laundry. Oh no, The Sweater wants to be laid out flat to dry, on a special little hammock, not for just one, but two days. The Sweater needs to reshape in a quiet place. The Sweater must not be disturbed. Be quiet! Do not talk to The Sweater — it is lying flat and reshaping and can not be bothered.

    After The Sweater has fully recovered from its singular wearing experience, I must now find The Sweater a suitable abode. The Sweater cannot just move in with the t-shirts! No, The Sweater has to have its own place, preferably something with cedar.

    And that’s when I have had enough of The Sweater. The Sweater no longer controls me.

    I slam dunk The Sweater into a plastic bin, along with Sweaters past, and then I shove the lid down tight so I can’t hear their screams.  I turn and walk away. I no longer care about the needs of The Sweater. I’ve lost that loving feeling for The Sweater, for all sweaters.  I promise myself that I won’t be fooled by a sweater again.

    I still have feelings for Hanes.

    add to sk*rt

    Do These Boots Make Me Look Like A Bad Mom?

    November 18, 2007

    You know, you might think that as older parents of an only child, that we would go all out and give Sean one of those over the top birthday parties.  If you think that, you would be wrong.  So very wrong.  And not for the reasons you might think. It’s not because we are taking a stand on rampant materialism and the message it sends or because our ideals are so high.  It’s because our energy level is so low.

    It takes energy to put on a shindig, energy that could be better spent trying to remember where we put the remote control.

    Therefore, Sean got a generic birthday cake upon which I smooshed a small Lightning McQueen car and the “4” candle that was left over from my birthday cake last year. And he was thrilled. And then the next week, when we had to do the cake thing again – I used the same car and the same candle. And he was thrilled again.

    That there folks, is the beauty of being four.

    Last year, Gigi bought Sean a pair of cowboy boots for his birthday and he was thrilled with them.  They just fit. But they wouldn’t for long. So the next week I took them back and exchanged them for the next size. By then he had forgotten about them, so I wrapped them up for Christmas. And guess what?  On Christmas morning, he was thrilled with his new boots.  Short term memory is cute when you are four. When you are in your forties? Not so cute.

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    If I can get the icing off the wheels, I think the Lightning McQueen car will make a nice stocking stuffer. 

    Mr. Monkey, A Retrospective

    November 17, 2007

    When Sean expressed an interest in my camera the other day, I briefly showed him how to use it and then I handed it to him and told him to take off, go crazy, go take some pictures and then come back and we’d take a look at them. 

    When I looked at his pictures, I noticed Mr. Monkey wore a disapproving expression, much like the Disapproving Rabbits, thus inspiring Sean’s first photography show:

    Mr. Monkey Disapproves – A Retrospective”

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    Mr. Monkey disapproves of other toys.

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    Mr. Moneky disapproves of baseball.

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    Mr. Monkey disapproves of stripes.

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    Mr. Monkey disapproves of old lady with washing machine.

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    Mr. Monkey disapproves of blog readers.

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    Mr. Monkey disapproves of bearded guys who read the newspaper on the sofa.

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    The artist and his muse.

    Birthday Party, Round 4

    November 16, 2007

    When I was a little girl and I had my birthday, it was a birthDAY. You got a little cake, maybe a toy, maybe a few extra privileges and then the next day, back to reality, back to scrubbing floors and waiting on my ugly stepsisters.

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    Sean?  He has a birthMONTH.  It’s a social season.

    The party circuit kicked off earlier in the month when my parents were visiting. We had cake, we had presents, we had fun.

    Then, the day before his birthday, Sean’s best friend and her parent’s came over with a very cool present and took us all to see the entertaining Bee movie.

    Then on his official birthday, the two sets of surrogate grandparents brought over four of their grandchildren.  More presents and more cake and more fun.  Because I’m an idiot (don’t tell Sean I just used that bad word) I got all the little children high on cake and THEN gave them those New Year’s Eve style horn blowers.  The man pictured above paid $1 to each child to buy their horn blower back. Bargain.

    Next week when we gather with the other grandparents there will be the giving of thanks and the feasting on the turkey and multiple pies. And then – you guessed it – cake and presents.  But no horn blowers.

    Economics 101

    November 15, 2007

    ‘Mommy, can I get a bicycle for my birthday?” Sean asked from the backseat as we were driving home from school yesterday.

    “I think that it is a very strong possibility that you will get a bicycle,” I said.


    Several moments of complicated thought-processing silence followed. Then he asked:

    “How do we get a bicycle?”

    Oh goody! A chance to talk about money.

    “Well, you know daddy works all day, he talks on the phone and helps his company make money.  At the end of every month they give us money for daddy’s work and then when we need something or want something like a bicycle, we take our money to the store and trade it for what we need. Sometimes, though we have to save up enough money to buy something really special, like a bicycle. And then the store, they take our money and pay the people who work there and then those people can buy food and bicycles for their children.”

    Another moment of thoughtful silence.

    “No!  I mean how do we get the bicycle on the checkout?  Will I ride it on the checkout?”

    So much for Economics 101.