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Showing posts from 2006

And so that was Christmas

Here we are on Christmas Eve. Don't we look happy? There's a long story about footwear, and lack thereof, that I could go into here, but it would take too long and it's not really all that funny. Suffice it to say that it was a close thing that all of us ended up with appropriate shoes on our feet.

Here is Phoebe eating her weight in mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner:

Speaking of eating, these cinnamon rolls were delicious, but this apple pie wasn't worth the trouble.

Here's Mallory after writing a note for Santa Claus, in which she asked for a "baby kitchen." Which she got the next day! Boy is Santa smart!

Here is Phoebe on Christmas morning. She was terribly excited about presents:

The obligatory sleepy-eyed in pajamas on Christmas morning pic:

The kitchen, lovingly assembled in the dead of night by me and Chris. By the time it was put together -- the night before Christmas Eve -- we were too tired to hide it, so we just locked the door to the playroom and …

Christmas Wishes

May your children be nestled with visions of sugarplums, rather than restless with hacking coughs and stuffy noses.

May you not have to hear Barbra Streisand sing ja-Jingle Bells.

May you remember that Santa is always watching, but that he’s pretty forgiving.

May you not cut off and sell your beautiful long hair to buy your husband a watch fob, only to find that he’s sold his watch in order to buy you hair clips.

May your cinnamon rolls rise.

May snow fall, but not until you’re safe at home.

May your place of employ give you a better Christmas bonus than a coffee mug and a window cling. But if not, may you go with your co-workers to deliver Giving Tree gifts and realize how truly blessed you are anyway.

May you not have to go anywhere near a mall for the next two weeks.

May your car stop making that weird noise because there’s no money left.

May you and your loved ones be surrounded by loved ones.

May your 1-year-old with erratic sleep habits go to bed on time on Christmas Eve so that you can p…

I Got Nothin' here's a really cute picture of my kid!

One thing I noticed whilst reading my diaries last week was that dudes, I used to be smart. I was all, "As Nietzsche said," or "As George Eliot so richly depicted in Middlemarch," or "I think I'm more of an Augustinian than a Pelagian." Huh? I want to know two things: What was I talking about, and where did all that knowledge go? Is it gone for good, or is it just lying dormant in my head, waiting to re-emerge once I no longer have to devote all my brain matter to calculating whether we have enough fruit snacks to last through the week, or contemplating what, exactly, is in that sippy cup behind Phoebe's bedroom door that I keep forgetting to retrieve, or wondering how I'm going to get Mallory to stop pinching me every time I tell her no? Will I ever quote anything besides Sandra Boynton or Dr Seuss again?

I mean, I guess it's worth the trade-off, but still. Dude. I miss my brain.

An Annunciation and Other News

Yesterday was Mallory’s preschool Christmas pageant. It was cute; she was an angel (or dressed like one anyway); she sang, she signed “Jesus Loves Me,” she was one of four children specially selected to play the handbells. I briefly envisioned her choosing the handbells as her dedicated extra-curricular activity. Twelve years of attending handbell concerts would be better than twelve years of soccer, or debate, or I don’t know, wrestling. We shall see. I didn’t get any good pictures because I spent most of the event trying to keep Phoebe from climbing into the baptismal font.

After the pageant, I went to collect my angel, and her teacher greeted me with a huge beaming smile. “Is it true?” she said. “Is what true?” I asked. “At circle time, Mallory said that we should all pray for you,” Miss S. explained with a knowing grin. I immediately started saying, “No, no, no, and no,” and Miss S. said, “Oh, so you’re NOT having a new baby?”

No, I’m not, but for some reason Mallory told the entir…

Thank you, thank you very much

One thing I dislike about the holidays is writing thank you notes. When I was little, a few days after Christmas, my mom would sit us all down at the kitchen table with a list of thank you notes to write and not allow us to get up until they were done. Actually it probably wasn't that draconian, but we were expected to get the notes completed without complaints or dawdling. Now, it was good and right and proper for my mom to make us do this, and to instill into us the thank you note habit, but I hated it then and I hate it now too.

The very thought of writing a thank you note just makes me feel weary. My wedding was the worst. I had four different showers, and then the wedding itself, and oh I had such a huge list of thank yous to get through. Deep dark confession: I never finished. I wrote five a night for about a month and then I just stopped. There were ten or twelve names still on the list. Luckily they were mostly people who worked with Chris at his old office and I'll nev…

I Need a Little Christmas, obviously

Yesterday’s post was a bit of a downer, so today I’ll share with you some of my favorite things about Christmas, both past and present.

Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. My mom made them every year (except that one awful year when she made egg casserole instead (ha – just kidding Mom)) and she’d put them in the oven to warm while we opened presents and it would smell just heavenly. Now, when we stay in NC for Christmas, I make the cinnamon rolls and I have to say, they’re my best “dish.” This year I’m going to try Alton Brown’s recipe.

Christmas dresses. We always had something new to wear on Christmas Eve, and up until I was, I think, a junior in high school, that “something” was handmade by my mom. She always sewed us the most gorgeous dresses, and we often all matched (well, not my brother, of course). I loved putting on my new dress and feeling pretty.

Christmas Eve services at our church back home. The church was always decorated with poinsettias and lit with candles. My mom wo…

Worse things

Thank you for all your supportive comments yesterday. I guess it is a silly thing to be worked up about. I think what really upset me about it is that I know that IF I could stay home with my kids, I’d be able to keep the diaper dream alive. And this week I’ve just been feeling bad about not being home with them, I think because the new year is approaching and I’m going to have to start working on Fridays again soon. That just makes me sad.

In fact, there’s just a whole list of things, in my mind, that would be better about life in general if I had more time at home with my kids. We’d eat better – we could have real dinners and homemade cookies instead of frozen pizzas and Chips Ahoy. (Although I love me some Chips Ahoy.) The house would not be such a horrible mess I can’t even stand to be in it. We’d read more books together. We could go to the park more often. I could attend all the special events at Mallory’s school. I might even be able to exercise. Maybe Mallory would be less frea…

Warning: This Will Be Boring to Everyone Else

I'm feeling a bit disappointed in myself, and here's why: I think I'm going to abandon cloth diapering.

I started using cloth diapers for Mallory when she was 9 months old. She wore disposables to daycare and to my inlaws, but the minute she got home I switched her to a cloth diaper, and that's what we used all evening and overnight and on weekends, until she was almost 3. The idea of cloth diapering may sound daunting, but really, for her, it was easy. It was two extra loads of laundry every week and ten minutes of folding and putting away. It was no problem at all.

I planned to use cloth for Phoebe from the moment she was born. A few minutes after she was born -- well, okay, let's say a few days after, when we got home from the hospital -- I realized there were other things that took priority. Like sleeping. Like feeding her while trying to keep Mallory entertained. After a few weeks, I started with cloth, and it just wasn't as easy this time around. The extra …

In Twenty Years I May Feel the Same About this Blog

I’m out of books at my house (meaning, I’ve read them all, I haven’t had time to go to the library, and I can’t justify buying new books for myself two weeks before Christmas), so last night I got into bed with a few of my diaries from high school. As you may know, I published a compilation of my great-grandmother’s diaries, and I’ve often thought in the back of my mind that maybe I should try to do the same for my own. After last night’s reading, I just have to say, No. And also, Gah.

My diaries can be divided into two parts. Part the First was me whining incessantly about how unpopular I was and how much I wanted a boyfriend. Part the Second was me enthusing endlessly over how much I loved the boyfriend I finally got. I love him! I love him so much! I love having a boyfriend! Oh how I love him! We’re going to get maaarried and I love him! Every night, for two years, that’s all I wrote about. Well, then he went off to college and every night I wrote, I miss him! I miss him so much! I …

Demanding Creatures

The only drawback to being married to a talented artist is that he sets the bar on doodling for the children way, way too high. Right now, for example, the kids’ bathtub is decorated with a gallery of Sesame Street muppets lovingly rendered in bath crayon. Last night I was giving Phoebe a bath and she picked up a crayon and said, “Draw!” “Yes, Phoebe can draw,” I said. She handed the crayon to me and said, a bit imperiously I thought, “Elmo!” So I sketched an Elmo for her on the side of the tub. She examined my effort, then glanced up at the obviously superior Elmo her daddy had drawn the night before. “Elmo!” she said again, pointing to a blank space on the tub, clearly indicating that I should try again.

Yes, my 16-month-old judged my artwork and found it wanting.

So I did try again. And she looked at Elmo2 and then said, hopefully, “Bi Bir?” I told her I was sorry, I was not capable of drawing Big Bird. “Oh,” she said, sadly. I wrote Big Bird’s name on the tub and she pointed to the …

The Birthday Report

Mallory woke up on her birthday and said, "How old am I?"

"You're five!" I said.

"Wow! You'd better measure me!" she said.

I did. And she's grown two whole inches she was a measly four years old, so it's a good thing we checked.

Then she discovered her art desk, which she loved:

She’s already spent a few hours at the desk, drawing or practicing letters. What did not occur to me was that providing Mallory easy access to her art supplies would also provide Phoebe easy access to same. All I can say is, thank you to whomever invented washable markers. (And yes, that huge box behind Mallory is her and Phoebe’s Christmas present. We have nowhere else to put it. I told Mallory it was shelves for our kitchen. If she ever makes the connection I’ll just say that it was too heavy for Santa’s sleigh. Or something.)

On our way to the birthday party, Mallory kept pressing her hand up to the car window and shouting, “I’m FIVE!” at passers-by. Phoebe kept chim…


Dear Mallory:

Tomorrow you will be five years old. You can write your name (and mine); you can draw bunnies and spaceships and people and flowers; you can make yourself “go high” on the swings; you can get lost in the imaginary worlds you create with your dolls. You ask the strangest, most impossible questions; you beg for dessert seventeen times a day; you scream louder than I ever thought possible for a child. You can probably do many, many things that you claim that you can’t (pedal a bicycle, for example, or put on your own shoes). You love family hugs and ice cream, princesses and dancing, singing and “Pinky Dinky Doo.” You like to rhyme words, to do art projects, and to dictate elaborate notes to your friends. You love to play with your friends and get wild with excitement when we have visitors. You prefer dresses to pants and you don’t like to have your hair brushed. You have beautiful hazel eyes with long lashes and when you’re telling us something very, very important you sque…


Some of my favorite moments from our Thanksgiving trip:

1. Seeing Mallory snuggled up in bed with her cousin Noah.
2. My nephew Rhett's comment, when going to bed Wednesday night, that "I'm just trying to get through another night 'til Thanksgiving."
3. Phoebe shouting "Bounce! Bounce!" at the trampoline.
4. Mallory taking my dad's hand when she crossed the street.
5. My nephew Cameron coming to me for a hug when he hurt his finger.
6. Phoebe playing the "push-you-down" game with Aimee on the trampoline.
7. The enthusiasm with which Rhett and Nicolas greeted one another -- they're going to be best friends for life.
8. The look on the kids' faces when the fireworks started at the Christmas tree lighting.
9. Phoebe chasing after Grandmom yelling "Mom-mom-mom-mom!"
10. Mallory and Noah pretending to go on a "date" while Rhett and Nicolas dared them to kiss one another.
11. This conversation between Rhett & Nicolas. N: T…


Every afternoon when Mallory gets home from preschool, Phoebe just goes wild with excitement. She flaps her arms and squeals and says "Mal! Mal!" over and over again, and then Mallory comes to give her a big hug, and then they dance together for a few minutes. A few days ago my in-laws were having new blinds installed, and the installation guy witnessed this little scene and said, "I wish my kids would do that. That's the sweetest thing I've ever seen."

I hope they're always that happy to see each other after being separated.

I know I've going to be that happy tomorrow when we get to Oklahoma City.

Happy Thanksgiving!

There's Your Trouble

I'm too excited about our upcoming trip to Aimee's house to post anything coherent. But I have to tell you that in the past week, Mallory has referred to the Dixie Chicks as both the Chixie Sticks and the Shrinky Dinks. If the Chicks are shopping about for a name change, I think those are both excellent alternatives.

Also, in the continuing saga of words-Phoebe-uses-to-respond-to-questions, Phoebe can now say "Okay!" Yeah, no, okay -- she's got all the bases covered. And yeah, it's very cute coming from her little voice. On Saturday we were playing outside and Mallory got some sand in her eye and was whimpering, and Phoebe went and crouched down beside her and said, "Okay?"

And, because you're all dying to know, we decided NOT to get the art desk for Mallory for Christmas. We're getting it for her birthday instead! Ha! I hope it fulfills my expectations as being something useful instead of confirming my fears that it will just take up space. A…

Shoulda Seen This One Coming

A few weeks ago I wrote about Phoebe's adorable "Yeah." Nowadays, she's expanded her affirmation repertoire to include "Ess" and "Ummm" accompanied by an emphatic nod of her head, but we still get a cute little "yeah!" a few times a day.

What I should have remembered is that when there is a yeah, "no" cannot be far behind.

Phoebe says "No" very nicely, and quite often, and sometimes when it's obvious she means the opposite, and sometimes when it doesn't even make sense. "Phoebe, should we change your diaper?" "NO!" "Phoebe, do you want juice?" "No!" she says, while gesturing frantically at the orange juice carton. "Phoebe, do you want to read this book?" "No!" she says, while thrusting the book into my hands and trying to climb up into my lap. "Phoebe, what are you doing in there?" I asked in the direction of the dining room this morning, when…

Books, books, books

As I lamented in yesterday’s post, I love to read and I don’t get to do it enough lately. If I had to choose between giving up reading or giving up my kids, well, I’d sure miss my kids. I found this quiz on someone else’s blog and just had to answer it. Sorry it goes on and on and on and on…1.A book that changed your life.Well, there hasn’t been just one, so in chronological order: Nancy Drew and the Sign of the Twisted Candlesticks: this was the first “chapter book” I ever read (thanks to Gran Valoris for giving it to me for Christmas, 1979!) and reading it made me feel so grown up and smart. Ditto The Count of Monte Cristo, which was the first “classic” book I read (in the fifth grade.) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier just amazed me. Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy (which actually has four books – The Crystal Caves, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked Day) started my fascination with all things Arthurian, while Beryl Bainbridge’s The Birthday Boys sparked my interest in So…

Terms of Endearment

Last year, every day when I dropped Mallory off at preschool she’d ask for a “Big Queeze.” She’d “queeze” me and then “queeze” Phoebe too. This summer she went through a weird kissing phase – she’d come up to me and say, “Don’t kiss!” and then kiss my right cheek, say “Don’t kiss!” again and then kiss my left cheek (the point was that I was not allowed to kiss her). Lately she’s been requesting a “hug with arms” (because those armless hugs are no good, I agree). Yesterday she hugged me and then said, “Mommy, I just can’t stop hugging and kissing you!”
She’s been very affectionate, as well, in the notes she dictates. In the past week she’s had me write notes that say, for example, “Phoebe is my favorite kind of friend,” and “Phoebe and Mallory really really love Krista.” I can’t reveal too much about the note she dictated for my mom’s birthday card because it was just put in the mail today, but rest assured it’s full of lovey-dovey stuff too.

And it’s a good thing that she’…

Separation Anxiety

Today in an email to Aimee I made reference to my oldest child's stubbornness and added, "I may have to leave her in Oklahoma with you!" Naturally I would never do that (although today for the first time ever I threatened Mallory with spanking because she would not get dressed for school -- it worked but I wasn't very impressed with myself afterwards). But it reminded me of an unusual childcare decision made by a former supervisor of mine. Which I will share with you now.

This woman -- let's call her Sylvia -- was from Panama; she came to New York when she was 20, got married, got a job, had two kids. When her kids were still very young -- I think 3 and 1 -- she had to go back to work. She interviewed some nannies, she toured some daycare facilities, but nothing felt right to her. So she sent her kids to Panama to live with her parents. She didn't see her kids -- still babies! -- for months at a time, until the oldest one was old enough to start school, and th…

Decisions, decisions

So I'm trying to decide if we should get this art desk, pictured at right, for Mallory for Christmas.

It's not exactly the most attractive desk, furnishing-wise, in the universe, but it holds a lot of stuff. And it looks sturdy, so Phoebe could use it when Mallory outgrows it. And it's not that expensive. And it holds a lot of stuff! Did I say that already?

Mallory has a ton of arts and crafts supplies and lately her very favorite thing to do is "projects." She asks to do a project about fifty million times a day. And we don't really have a good place for her to do these projects. We have a kitchen table, but, you know, we often have to eat there. We have a huge dining room table, but it's mostly covered with other kinds of junk and really, it's almost too big for her to sit at comfortably. So her art supplies are in constant movement between the kitchen and the dining room, or sometimes the living room, and I swear if she asks me one more time to find …

I'll save this post to show to her first boyfriend

I dreaded the prospect of toilet-training from the moment I discovered I was pregnant with Mallory. It just seemed to be a parenting challenge – necessitating routine-setting and negotiating and attention-paying -- that I wouldn’t be up to. Either I was right about myself, or Mallory absorbed my dread from the womb, because all my fears were realized in the struggle to get her out of diapers.

There was, in fact, a week when she was almost 2 ½ that I thought we’d conquered the whole thing effortlessly. She suddenly was going to the potty on cue, all by herself! I was thrilled! And smug. And promptly punished for my smugness, because for some reason I no longer remember, it was all over and we were back to square one. Then for the next year we bumbled along without much progress, in part because she was at daycare three days a week and at my in-laws two days a week and home the rest of the time and all of us caregivers never seemed to get our potty-training-Mallory-strategies aligned. An…

Tricks, treats, and a trip to the farm

Here's my dainty ballerina. About three-quarters of the way around our block while trick-or-treating, she decided that tennis shoes would be much more comfortable than her ballet slippers. Phoebe the lion did the rounds in her stroller, because when set free she ONLY wanted to walk in the middle of the street, and woe betide the adult who tried to hold her hand. She has developed quite the fondness for M&M's, so Chris and I have to be very secretive when we sneak things out of her bucket. (What, we should let a 1-year-old eat her own Halloween candy?)

Yesterday I accompanied Mallory's preschool class for an "educational tour" of a local pumpkin farm. The kids made butter and saw cows and chickens and ducks. At bedtime I asked Mallory what her favorite part about the farm was, and she said, "Well, at the farm, I didn't have to do any of those things I'm supposed to do at school."

"Like what?" I said.

"Like learn things," she …

Which End Up?

Last Friday I was supposed to work from home, but I encountered technical difficulties with my laptop. I called our Support Staff and a guy walked me through some steps to fix the problem, but none of his suggestions were working. After ten minutes of trying a certain thing over and over again I realized that part of the problem was that he was telling me to type “something something forward slash something else” and I was instead typing “something something back slash something else.”

That was kind of embarrassing, because I am after all a web designer and also somewhat intelligent, and you’d think that I’d know the difference between a forward slash and a back slash. But here’s a secret: I don’t! I mean: you have \ and you have /. I don’t understand what makes one forward and one back. I guess I can see that this one leans forward: / but doesn’t this one slope forward: \ ? So how do you tell which is which?

My slash confusion is part of a larger problem with my brain. I can’t think v…

Good Dental Hygiene is Particularly Important for Lions

Phoebe is, as you can see, going to be a lion for Halloween. She's going to be a lion because Mallory said for two months that she wanted to be Dorothy for Halloween, and we thought it would be cute to have a theme going on.

Of course this weekend Mallory decided that she did NOT want to be Dorothy, how dare we even SUGGEST the wearing of the Dorothy costume, any mention of her being Dorothy was cause for tears and shrieking.

So now she's going to be a ballerina. "I'm going to be the kind of ballerina who has a pet lion!" she said, helpfully.

In preparation for Phoebe's lionhood, we taught her how to roar on cue. It's very cute. But you should also know that last week it rained a lot, and so Phoebe has also learned to say "rain" when we pull her jacket hood up. I'm sure you all know where this is going: I put Phoebe's lion costume on, pulled up the hood, and said, "Phoebe, what does a lion say?"

And Phoebe said: "Rain!"

This was fun

HowManyOfMe.comThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.
How many have your name?

Clearly this isn't exactly right; obviously there is one person in the US with my name. It's just statistically unlikely that there is anyone in the US with my name, which is actually kind of cool. Same goes for Mallory and Phoebe; I think there were four Chris-es. There are three people with my maiden name, by the way.

Go try it for yourself!

A very special...Always Remember That

On Sunday, Mallory said to me, “I want to get a box and put stuff in it that I don’t want and give it to some other people.” Coincidentally, I had just read about a US soldier who was collecting stuffed animals to pass out to children in Iraq, so I found a box and we started filling it up. Because if there’s one thing we have too much of, it’s stuffed animals. (There is something way off, grammatically, about that sentence, but you get the idea.)

Mallory was not at all discriminatory about which stuffies she flung into the box. “Hold on,” I said. “You don’t have to give away any that are really special to you.” From that point on, she very earnestly said, “Well, this one isn’t special!” of each one before she consigned it to the pile.

It was on the tip of my tongue to protest. Not special? The ducky I bought when I found out I was pregnant? The doggie I bought for her when she had her first ear infection? The floppy bunny that sat in the corner of her crib? The bear with “2001 Baby” emb…

Busy, busy, shockingly busy...

...much much too busy for you!

(That's from a Veggie Tales song. I hereby admit that I find Veggie Tales really, really charming. Mallory was never much into them. Oh well.)

Anyway, really busy at work this week but I can't neglect my adoring public. Ha! So here's something for you: You must go see The Prestige. Such a wonderful movie, the best I've seen in a long time. So good that I had to run right out and buy the book. Not, you know, that it takes a great deal of encouragement for me to run right out and buy any book. But -- excellent movie. Highly recommended. (Now you will all go see it and hate it and wonder what I'm going on about.)

A Picture Post

A poster Chris drew for the annual Harvest Day Bake Sale, proceeds to benefit Mallory's preschool:

A poster Chris drew for Mallory's class. What did Phoebe say when she saw it? "El-mo!" She's good at spotting that little red monster, even when he's not red.

Our beautiful new chair! Which actually matches our beautiful new couch!

Phoebe looking pretty.

Mallory looking goofy.

My girls.

A Hodge-podge. A mish-mash, if you will.

Words Phoebe Has Learned To Say Since The Last Time I Made Such A List:

Elmo (pronounced correctly)
Nurse (“urse” – yeah, I know, once they’re old enough to ask…)
I’m stuck
Who’s that?

Two Reasons Phoebe May Not Be My Actual Child

She doesn’t like doughnuts.
She does like raw onions.

What Mallory Said To Me After I Apologized To Her For Us Having A Rough Morning:

“It was rough because you’re mean.”

My Review Of The Make-Ahead Meal Experience

Excellent! Chris and I really liked the Taco Soup, Marinated Flank Steak, Chicken Enchiladas, and Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole. Chris liked the Cilantro Shrimp Scampi; I thought the seasoning was a bit weird, but it was all right. The Smothered Burgers were good but a lot of trouble to make. The Mini-Pizzas…it was nice to be able to customize toppings, but they didn’t taste any better than Target brand frozen pizzas, so, eh. We haven’t tried the Gruyere Quiche yet. But overall, it worked out real…

Mostly I Never Cry At All

This is one of my very favorite pictures. It was taken in October 2004 at a pumpkin patch farm near our house, just a few minutes after I realized I was pregnant again.

Whatever do I mean by that? Partly it was that – sorry, I hate this expression – we’d just started “trying” and conditions seemed favorable. But mostly it was that there was country music being playing in the background at the farm and I kept getting weepy. At one line in one particular song, something about “living here in Arkansas working at a Wal-mart” I got actual tears in my eyes. Because I’ve never lived in Arkansas, nor want to, nor worked at a Wal-mart, nor wanted to, I wondered at my bizarre sensitivity to this song for a few moments before thinking, “Hey! I must be pregnant.”

Crying at odd moments defines pregnancy, for me. (Although the first warning sign of Mallory was an out-of-the-blue craving for cocktail wienies.) One night when I was pregnant with Mallory, Chris and I saw a segment on a Food Network prog…