Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And I laughed when I saw them, in spite of myself.

I feel the need to get these sugarplums nailed down before they are reduced to faded visions in my wee little head:

Dee thought the right jolly old elf that came to visit our Christmas Eve celebrations was "just pretend" because his voice "sounded a lot like Uncle Forrest's." Also, she was a little suspect because the Uncle Forrest Santa gave her a Fisher Price camera instead of the princess doll she had requested. She was certain it would arrive in her stocking, like all gifts from Santa. I did my best to boost her materialistic expectations for years to come by explaining that sometimes, Santa brings presents at random parties, under the tree and he also leaves a stash in your stocking. I'm sure a lifetime of disappointment and putting on a game face for her mother's benefit will begin holiday season 2010.

T received his beloved hard plastic dinosaur family under the tree. Since then, the Dinos have joined T for long winter’s naps in his crib. When he woke up with a croup like cough on Christmas night, we spent some time breathing in the bathroom while the shower pumped up the steam volume. When we returned to his crib, T, in a barky whisper, immediately inquired about the whereabouts of his dinosaurs.  Then T lined them all up by his pillow before declaring that he was "all bettr."  Translation:  A Happy Christmas to all, then, and to all a good-night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Insignificant numbers.

Hub and parents, with Dee, are out shopping 3 stores to get the food for all of his childhood favorites.  So I've been home "alone" for 17 minutes.   4 minutes were spent getting the rice going for dinner tonight, 8 spent picking up the kitchen, 5 was for surfing the net (legit, actual free time), and now Baby Nar is crying.  Ugg.  After 2 days with her doting grandparents, Nar is demanding to be held all 21 of her waking hours.

I think I hear T stirring in his crib. Up from nap already.  I myself have slept a total of 6 hours the past 2 nights and not because I have an important brief to write and file or some other time sensitive task from my old life.  No.  I'm just busy getting my butt kicked by the holidays.  From my quick, but precious, recent excursions into the blog world, that seems to be the story all over.  It's good to feel a part of something. 

OK.  Must stop.  After 12 minutes of crying, mother guilt has kicked in and I must get baby.  Hope to be back later.

5 hours, 29 minutes later.  Dinner is done, Frosty the Snowman movie viewed because its the holidays, big kids in bed, but Baby N is still rooting.  I'm tired because I started this whole holiday visit staying up till 2 am making 4 curtain panels from scratch.  I had been meaning to sew the stupid window coverings for 8 months or so, but procrastination got the best of me.  It was only my 10 year effort to impress my inlaws that caused me to get the job done a mere 8 hours before their plane touched down.  Now my mother in law can change clothes in peace without my fenced backyard to see. 

Later that same day, Martha let me down.  I attempted to make her fabulous looking gingerbread snowflakes.  But the dough stuck to the pan, the parchment paper and everything else.  Even when I followed her meticulous, "freeze 15 minutes to set after rolling," and "freeze another 15 minutes to set after cutting out cookies but before transferring to pan" instructions.  Yawn.  I should have followed the recipe of that has-been, Mrs. Fields.  While her 80's bangs and hair color do look dated, her gingerbread once worked for me.  I was childless then, so maybe it was a matter of energy.

So at 9:15 pm, I mixed up some fool proof sugar cookies.  Let's just say Crisco is a necessary ingredient.  The reason for all this stress?  Another deadline, of course.  Many weeks ago, I offered to host a homemade cookie decorating party for my friends and their preschoolers on holiday break.  In our perpetual scramble to fill the days, I offered up cookies at 10 am. 

At 7:30 am today, with sugar cookie dough chilled over 1 night, my mother in law began baking.  In in the interim, I cleaned house, fed and changed kids, made frosting and assembled individual frost and sprinkle stations for the 4 and under set.  At 9:57, while changing out of my pajamas and into real clothes for the party, I glanced out the window and noticed my girlfriend circling the block.  Fortunately, she had 1 Starbucks coffee in hand for me, and the awesomeness not to arrive 1 second too soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Name that gnome.

Last Sunday at Dee's school party, a little gnome that's a stranger to me gave my kids an image of himself in the form of a plush toy. His name is "Tomtegubbar," and apparently, he's Swedish:

A few days earlier, while scrambling to get the dessert slot on the sign up sheet for the party, I noticed a mostly foreign word at the top of the page. I recognized the "tomte" part, because c'mon, that's common knowledge to us third gen Swedish Americans. Tomten is the little guy like Santa who brings presents on Christmas. He's also the guy (along with his friends) who appears in tchochke form all over my house come Christmastime, mostly because of the "Made in Sweden" stickers affixed to the miniature clogs. It's how I know he's my people.

Spry, huh?

   You go, GF!

So with the confidence of a gal who knows her ethnic clutter, I asked about the tomtegubbar thing. "Is it German?," I asked.

I said that I'd heard of tomte, but that gubbar part, ahhh, no. The teachers explained that a former, real Swedish family, who's kids had graduated and gone on to win prospective Nobel prizes, had first introduced the humble school to Tomtegubbar. Turns out that he is no plain jane tomte, he is Sweden's one true holiday house gnome. The one with the goods.

"Ohhh," I said. "Did I mention that I can bake some mean pepparkakors, Swedish for ginger cookies? It's my grandmother's recipe.  The one from Sweden." They didn't care. I had already been revealed as the white bread goober that I am.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Old Wooly.

That's right, I tell the Boden people. Just send it to: 5555 My Address, where romance goes to die (I've heard they use fives in Hollywood for addresses and phone numbers. I'm pretty sure I'm almost there).

If I could stick an instant read thermometer into "room temperature" at my 1927, drafty old house, we could verify what I already know. It's cold in here; at least 20 degrees cooler than the 70 degrees indicated on my heat register. That box is never accurate, and at this point, I treat it only as a wish list.

To keep me ambulatory as I bumble about my day, I have come to rely on a trusted friend; Old Wooly. This was my first Boden purchase, a clearance item that is 100% lambswool. I know this because the tag says so, but also because when I wear Wooly, it warms the very core of my soul. Seriously. Wooly is a work horse. In Wooly's two short years of life, it has shrunk beyond buttoning (an unfortunate dryer incident), and acquired a little hole that looks like I put a cheese patch there for a mouse to nibble. Gross.

Nonetheless, wool has become a prerequisite for all my sweater purchases. If it's not wool, it's crap. Equipped with that shopping mantra, I've also found a sister for Wooly. A cheaper, more trendy model from TJ Maxx that boasts bell sleeves but that same great lambswool. Unlike Wooly (and my Crocs - Tim Gunn says they're taboo), I actually wear this little number outside of the home.

Wooly and his little friend have not been well received by Hub. Perhaps because their high circulation in my wardrobe batting order remind him of that box of a flowery housecoat worn by grandmothers the world over (at least in the 1970's and prior). You know, the one that suggests an androgynous being underneath that can cook a mean goulash, but is, well, matronly.   Hub tells me that he doesn't like housecoats, flannel pajamas with piping and wool.  Apparently, wool is itchy for some people.  Wool is a turn off for some people.  Hub suggests whether maybe some snug fitting, athletic microfleece can sub in for Old Wooly. 

Like I've said before, I'd like to believe that I'm not a number of things, including simply matronly. I'd also like to believe that I'm a sporty, tight microfleece wearing kind of gal.  However, I've found something that works.  And if the sweater fits (snugly, for certain), if it keeps me warm, and if I don't have to button (or zip) it, or go to the gym to justify owning it,  I might have finally found that identity I've been searching for...at least until Hub gets home.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Voo doo.

I'm pretty sure I'm just a pin cushion with hips. While wearing pajamas that were last washed about a week ago (a recurring theme for me), I knelt down yesterday to give Dee a good morning hug and to ever so pleasantly, but not too urgently, ask her to go potty first thing and then get dressed for preschool. Despite my efforts to make the end of the sentence lilt up like the helpful remarks of Cinderella's devoted animal friends, Dee's response was to push away from me in her cutie jammie clad three year old body and say, "Mama, you don't smell good." Ouch. And a good morning to you too, dearheart.

I presume, per usual, that she sensed how very precious pee in the potty means to me. And how very quickly thereafter the wiping, flushing, hand washing, tooth brushing, dressing, hair combing and breakfast eating must occur before my true angel of a friend, who's still treating me like Baby Nar is one week old, comes to pick up Dee and take her to preschool. So we rush and I get stressed and yell sometimes. It's a way of life.

I'm okay dealing with the aftermath of our hurried morning routine. My unmade bed, dishes harboring the beginnings of cereal concrete and breakfast for the kids by way of snack trap. So long...as I...get...the...girl...out...the DOOR! I also feel a certain sense of accomplishment if my buddy doesn't have to actually come up the porch to fetch Dee. I guess I'm not as okay with the fact that my daughter's first thought when she sees me is, YOU STINK!

On occasion, Dee has also been known to tell me that:

"You have a weird butt," edited to "you look like a nice monster," when I sought clarification. Ouch.

The ever popular, "you smell like a doggie," or "your hair looks weird." Ouch again.

The other night, after I served the family a lovely dinner of penne pasta with Kalmata olives and tuna (all white tuna in water, mind you), Dee informed me that I "didn't do a good job on dinner." Ouch one more time.

How easily I forget that I do often smell like drying baby spit up, or even day old baby spit up. Which might smell like dog sometimes. I know Dee doesn't like dogs. And usually when Dee says my hair looks weird, I know deep down inside that it does. I must have slept on it wrong and the bobby pin didn't stay in right to form the part I want.... Or its just not as frizzy as I like it.

My sweet baby doll also reminds me that I "did good" on dinner sometimes. Those times usually involve noodles and cheese that rhyme with "raft," but sometimes a delicate miso soup or her grandmother's Chinese spare ribs (tried with great effort on many occasions by me).

Dee also often tells me that I "look pretty." Those utterances usually first require that I put on tights or the dreaded nylons and two inch heels. While elastic leg wear isn't a necessity of my current duties and invitations, I've been known to find an excuse to wear such things, because they're magical.

It's at those times that I'm pretty sure my daughter thinks I'm a princess. Then all I have to do to seal the deal is actually play dress up with her, or do a craft.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A good thing?

Last week, as we all returned back to the children's activities, briefly suspended for Thanksgiving break, many of the people in my little life asked me about the big day. I hosted a small gathering for Thanksgiving. That's right. I did the turkey with all the trimmins' between swaddling sessions and toddler smack downs. My cousin and her family, my uncle, and some friends shared the day with us. I was in control, as I like it. I got to review my cook books, online recipes, stuff that I've wanted to try for a year since I first saw it on the Martha Stewart show, and a new recipe to doctor from last week's Parade magazine. In reality, my cousin brought almost half the food, but the feast still felt like mine.

After everything was said and done, I made my hub recap the day with me. And by "recap," I mean talk over every detail of the food I had prepared. What tasted awesome, what was too dry (the stuffing, sadly). And to tell me again what he thought was awesome. I was feeling some kind of natural high that caused me to stay up past 2 am, coming up with what appeared - at the time - to be some knockout blog ideas for future posts (I'm pretty sure it was the fancy holiday wine). The high stayed with me through the weekend when we magically transformed the house from cornucopia central to a winter wonderland and then hosted some friends for a long overdue dinner (the hub's a chef and I'm forever intimidated).

In any event, wow, what a weekend. I was happy. We did it. I got to cook and hub got to clean up after me. When Monday and Tuesday came, I skipped merrily back to preschool and toddler school. Everywhere along the way, the people that know me best in this town inquired about Thanksgiving. Over and over, I was asked questions like these:

"How was dinner, did you use all Martha Stewart recipes?," or

"Did everything come out like Martha Stewart?" and finally,

"Oh, you must be so pleased."

It was almost like I had just birthed a healthy bouncing baby, without complications. Except I was - and am - concerned. What's with all the Martha Stewart references? Over the past two years as a stay at home, mother of three mom, have I inadvertently hitched my identity to the Martha Stewart brand? And what about all of that shameless product promotion? While preparing crafts for the toddler school party, do I just casually reference the features of the Popsicle sticks I'm using? While baking, do I remind my listeners of the wonders of Ziploc baggies for all sorts of air tight purposes?

The truth is, I like watching Martha Stewart. It's rated "G" and it's my go-to show, especially when the kids are milling about. It's on DVR, and the show's content feeds that comfortable part of me that my mom nurtured. Growing up, we baked and baked and baked, and sewed a little, decorated the house, and talked about it all with a disgusting amount of genuine interest. We still do.

The problem now, as I creep toward the dreaded "4-0," is that I'd like to believe that I have a little more edge to my personality than that (as you've probably noted from this blog, there's a lot of things that I'd like to believe). Can't I be one of those gals who's just now rekindling her "need for speed," or mining for dandy garage band downloads?

The second truth is, I was always a slow mover. A solid junior varsity runner. The comforts of home are actually a comfort to me. I suppose that's why I've chosen to do all this home stuff at this time in life. All I need now, I guess, are a couple child rearing segments on Martha.