Sunday, December 30, 2007

Diggin' Out

Am I the only one who simply cannot wait to take down the tree and subsequent trimmings on or about December 26? As I write this I think it sounds ummm...rather scroogy but I can't help it. We are having dear friends over for New Year's eve and I do understand that some people like to remain festive up to an including January 1. Weaklings, I say. Weaklings without minor OCD and clutter issues.

When I asked for a little muscle help to put the tree away for the love of God so I would not need mental health pharmaceuticals to help me deal with the Christmas carnage around here the Muffin man gently suggested we leave the decorations up for the little party. Oh, you know me better than that, "It all has to" "You have issues, he states." "Yes, I know." I reply. "Now put down that newspaper and get happy wrapping that tree up." He simply shook his head this year and did not even batten down the hatches for a good argument. Smart man.
So, I've been digging out for the last 48 hours...popcorn tins have hit the recycle bin. Stray pez dispensers have been neatly stored in the candy basket on top of the refrigerator. The myriad of Christmas crafts and paper cards have been tossed. I had to wait until Ava was distracted for that one. And finally as my piece de' resistance the left over Christmas night cabernet sauce for filet mignon has been flushed down the sink. Bye-bye bits of yummy wine and butter heaven. Oh yes I forgot, table linens are dancing in various stages of unrest around the Maytag in the laundry room.

And yet...I am nowhere near back to normal. The toy mongers are following me around the house barfing Pet Shop pieces and Webkinz. Baby doll bottles appear wherever I step with a bare foot. New stuffed animals appear on door knobs hung by their necks with colorful silk scarves. This is the stuff of true life Blair Witch Projects.

Would you believe that this was a scaled down Christmas? Each child received a few toys from us...we put nothing on credit and instead focused on craft projects and time spent together. Oh yes, and some pretty damn fabulous meals. But alas, the childrens' stuff is still running the household and windows and doors are bulging. We may have to crack a window to release pressure before March.

Signing off for now. I'm headed downstairs to eat the last of the cookies so the Santa tinplate can be stored away for another 11 months.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas and peace in the new year from us to you!

Ava scored the awesome new leopard jacket. (obviously from her very cool auntie and cousin who love to shop) Livi sports the grin of a gal who's just eaten plenty of tiramasu!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Teacher Gifts

It's teacher gift time here. I love teacher gift time. I read an article in the paper recently about what teachers like to receive most and least. Believe it or not homemade gifts did make it amongst the top of the list. (Probably because those being interviewed had too much class to say Cash is King folks.) I have the utmost respect for teachers and wish that I could gift them what they most deserve during the holiday season...a big fat raise. But I can't, so I'll sew.

Ava was instructed to ask favorite colors of her three teachers. She attends 2 schools for kindergarten and has 3 teachers who are in the room at all times as luck would have it. One teacher stated green and one professed blue as favorites. They are getting the blue and brown striped bag on the far left and the fern green and dark brown on second from the right. They are large enough to be considered tote bags for lugging papers back and forth to the classroom but small enough to be used as everyday handbags if they so choose. Her wonderful 1st year teacher is getting the holiday hipster bag in the center with the beads hanging from the bottom and long tartan plaid handle. I am gambling on a 23 year old wanting a black velvet holiday bag? Something got lost in translation with Ava and I'm unsure of her favorite colors.

This might also be the reason I can't figure out which boy in her class is giving her lovely handmade necklaces. I'm suspicious there might be a 5 year old love triangle brewing though. More on the juicy details when I get the facts straight.

Olivia's Mom's Morning Out teachers are getting the brown floral bags. One is very pregnant and I thought she might like a diaper caddy. See second from left. It is a clutch and lifts open to store 2 diapers and a package of wipes.

It is perfect for storing in the car or taking into a restaurant when you don't want to lug the gignoramous diaper bag for a 1 hour trip. I use mine ALL the time. The little matching bag on the far right is for the other teacher in the room. I have no idea whether she is a teal and brown fan...I was debating whether it is a good idea for someone I hardly know...but was told I was overthinking the situation. Who me? Overthinking something as insignificant as a teacher gift for a woman I hardly know who sees my child all of 4 hours a week? Probably guilty as charged.

There they are in all their glory...our family's thank you to the teachers in our lives. We respect your patience and talents! Happy Holidays Teachers.

I'm signing off to make a wristlet for my hair stylist... I see her tomorrow and mama needs a chic bob.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chillin' Out

She's waiting patiently for the bed linens to be washed and dried and put back on the bed.

Yes, she's bellied up to Elmo. And yes, those are her arms propped nicely up behind her head.

Rainy...cold...December day, no worries.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Elmo Rules Hannah Drools

Scene: Cul-de-sac kitchen.
Time: A few weeks ago.

Ava: (With hand on hip.) "Ugh, Mom THAT is soooo like OVER." she said referring to her sister's toy blocks when I suggested she pick them up and build a castle.

Me: like over. "Ava, Did your zip code change to 90201?"

Ava: "Huh? No, mom it is 46....." (My five year old can be quite literal, it is sometimes endearing even in the throws of hip swinging and improper English.)

Me in mental note to self: "That Hannah Montana and all those other crappy teeny bopper shows are sooooo like outtta here." Fur sure.

And that is how Elmo got promoted. Or perhaps he got resurrected from the ever mounting dvd collection collecting dust in our tv cabinet. That...and Liv has suddenly realized that Elmo = baby crack. Gotta have it, will beg whine and steal to get it.

There was no official indoctrination with pinky swear or small blood draw stating that Hannah Montana is officially out (so like, over) at our house. There was not even a 20 minute soliloquy that mama so loves to procure expounding on the evils done to society when 5 year olds act and talk like 16 year old valley girls who drive little red Audi's of their own. No, that would invoke a little too much 5 1/2 year old drama. And like the chick from the Black Eyed Peas states, "You don't want no drama." No, mama don't want no drama.

Hannah's exodus was quiet and without fanfare. She left the building and playroom twirling in her too short pleated skirt complete with 1980's footless tights that my daughter will not be getting for Christmas. Elmo and all his talk of being a good friend, proper hand washing techniques, and all the animals in the world that make him happy have swooped in at 5:15 pm each day. Two little girls who simply will not grow up too fast watch happily while using wooden blocks to build castles. The truth of the matter is that the newly imposed "No, Hannah" rule was in fact a little dicey the first few days...but then like all bad habits we simply supplemented with another bad habit and all was fine back at the ranch in no time at all.

I, in turn can make a dinner in peace. I am also rewarded with a soon to be 6 year old who speaks like a soon to be 6 year old.

Elmo rocks our house.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Private Kindergarten Post

Here it is as promised:

I no longer like private kindergarten. I love public school. Or, I love our public far. Ava has a delightful 12 year old teacher...this is her first year and she is so darn eager to do a great job...that simply said, I love her and her glue smelling, glitter decked, overly English labeled classroom. She has taught my kid to read, has her in a leadership role helping other children, and has her prepared to spew off more Spanish learned in 3 months than she has learned Mandarin in 3 years of rote learning at Chinese school. I heart public school.

Public kindergarten in my township is still part time. You can of course pay to send your child full time but tax dollars still pay for 1/2 time. This is of course short lived and full time Kindergarten will more definitely be state wide mandated by the time 2 year old Livi gets to school. (Another issue worth debating if I ever sit down long enough to gather random thoughts.)

Ava is a kid sponge and is full of confidence...she has always loved the academic and social parts of preschool. She gets quite saucy when home staring at her unused toys. She loves television and I completely admit to caving on too many occasions letting her zone out in front of the tv rather than listening to whatever ranting and raving she can come up with while bored at home. This is why we decided on supplementing regular public school kindergarten with the private program that is supposed to be arts and literature based rather than beating ABCs and 123s into her little head. However, the teacher who developed the program 15 years ago at arts and literature school up and quit 2 weeks before the school year started. School hired new teacher and she is fine. Yes, fine...nothing terrific...nothing personal, I am sure she is a nice enough person if I ever had the opportunity to say more than 3 words to her.

This is verbose but leading me to my winter of discontent with arts and literature private school. I signed up to be room mom for the class and have offered on numerous occasions to volunteer. Teacher has bitten on my offers to help with class not one time. I was very open and honest when I signed up that I have a 2 year old at home and she is NOT ready to be shipped off to co-op babysitting and is thus attached to my hip. They said fine, no problem while making goo goo eyes at my sweet Liv. So, I filled out the mountain of paperwork getting my $30 background security check while running to the local police department myself and then sending in a fat yellow envelope asking for yet more proof I am not an axe-murderer or child molester. (Keep in mind the school knows that I have been fingerprinted by the local, state and federal governments 2 times in the last 5 years due to the adoptions.) Copies of my last fingerprinting in 2006 would not suffice for the school, they must have yet another fingerprinting to allow me entry to the school or to drive children on field trips.

Last week I volunteered for a field trip. I was told that I couldn't volunteer if I insisted on taking Olivia with me. Couldn't I find a babysitter? Well, no...I have no family in town and the Muffin Man is a little busy working outside the home in order to pay the mortgage. On a side note I did try to swap kids with another mother a few weeks ago and Liv just about lost her marbles during the attempted handoff. If was not pleasant and Livi will be riding my hip until her 18th birthday or her first date, whichever comes first.

Mrs. Arts and Literature explained that I could not be "in charge" of walking children around a museum while watching Olivia too. I get this. I'm ok with it. You can't have parents watching rambunctious 2 year olds AND be responsible for extra 5-6 year olds. I explained that I would drive separately and would have no official duties but I'd be happy to just be another adult to help out where needed. Then Mrs. Arts and Literature says that won't be allowed since it might not be fair to the other parents who actually got babysitters for their younger children and sometimes parents are late for field trips and she doesn't want to have to wait for anyone who is late. What? This is the rationale...don't want to possibly offend a parent who got a babysitter? You are expecting parents to be irresponsible and late for functions? At a kindergarten field trip?

Ok, last week I had my panties all in a twist over this. I've now calmed myself a wee bit. But I did call the PTA president and calmly explained that they might want to review their room parent and field trip handbook for next year. Nowhere does it state that younger siblings will be banished from any and all activities and paying $30 for a background check is completely a waste of time for any parent wanting to help out unless they want to come alone, you will not be allowed to do ANYTHING with the class unless you are ALONE. I also explained that driving separately to a public place cannot be technically banned for a parent with a younger sibling. It is a public place after all. In the same breath I mentioned that I personally would not do up at the field trip uninvited just to see my little darling stare at Native American art for the sake of just being an asshole. But you never know...your policy might not keep the next parent away from a public place on the day of said field trip. Policy that cannot be enforced is usually not a good idea. PTA president said she would take it under advisement.

In the end, I could take Ava out of this program. But perhaps that would be knee jerk and overly dramatic and there are only 5 more months. The class isn't horrible or is just well...ok. Nothing outstanding.

I'm researching Montessori schools for Liv.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

In My Head

I've been writing in my head. Really, almost everyday I get a fleeting thought about something that I might like to sit down at the computer and write about. And for oh, I don't know how many days, I didn't. But now I do, here I am. For what's it worth I've been busy.

On Nov. 25 I went to a Pink Evita party and sold 28 hand bags. One month before Christmas. And I promised them to everyone and their mother in less than 2 weeks. So, the shit and lots of colorful material hit the fan and I spent 9 days in cul-de-sac captivity sewing up bags. Then I got the idea (yes, I got it from a friend not while dreamily thinking up new and fabulous design ideas in my uninterrupted sleep) to add little lobster claw beaded charms to all the handbags that have zippers. Super, more work and another idea to draw out the process of finishing the bags and delivering them on time. Oh, but they are uber cute. Pictures to follow when I get off my butt and snap a picture.

You might be thinking that some fairy or commercial cleaning and decorating service came into the house to clean and decorate the joint for the most festivious season of them all while I've been locked away in the sewing room? You'd be wrong. I have dirt left over from Halloween. I found proof upon discovering a skittles wrapper in Ava's room yesterday. Let's be honest, adding Christmas dirt onto Halloween dirt endears us to no one. Present company not excepted. This morning Liv and I had no formal plans and took to digging the place out. I cleaned for 2 hours downstairs alone and it looks presentable...not great mind you only presentable. I'm not sure what possessed me but several puzzles, two cookbooks, and a 14 year old builder grade toilet paper holder bit the dust. I danced a jig while Livi bathed herself in episode after episode of THE GOD-like creature us mortals call ELMO. In case you were wondering...she is his biggest fan. She spits upon Dora, and thumbs her nose non-chalantly at those Backyardagains. ELMO is her homeboy, she needs a tee shirt to prove it.

What would possess a normal average American family to think it a good idea to put away a blender in a remote cabinet before cleaning it? It must have been the Muffin Man. I found it today in the recesses of a kitchen cabinet which has probably been without human touch for over 8 months to a year with mystery brown stains. We can hardly blame this one on the children either, like we normally do with all other embarrassing quirky tidbits. But to my knowledge it is a household rule that anyone under the age of ten living here does not on a regular basis use the blender. Here is the really weird part...the cup part of the blender was squeaky clean...the base was growing some new form of Penicillin. Thank God for small favors like Clorox wipes. One blender down 10,000 feet of baseboards to go. (We all know the reality of the situation includes that fact that I will certainly lose interest in those Clorox wipes, they will once again fall out of favor and I will be writing about adding Easter dirt to Christmas dirt in a few short months.)

Aside from mystery stains and Elmo sightings we are all ultimately fine in the large scheme of universal and quantum wellness. We are of course contemplating setting up a tree. And perhaps a few stockings. It's an idea anyway.

Oh, one more thing to get you completely caught up. I decided to skimp on the family budget and try to take the girls' holiday picture by myself after I got them dressed in cute matching holiday outfits. How hard could it possibly be to get only 1 fabulous photo of a most cooperative almost 6 year old and a tame and docile 2 year old? Costco has holiday greeting cards 50 for $15.99 after all. Snap on.

For the love of God, I needed a glass of wine the other night after trying desperately to manage the 26 hour delay on the overpriced hunk of junk Minolta and my 2 squirming children. I guiltlessly helped myself to an over sized glass of stemless vino rather than plunging my fingernails into each of their eyeballs.

Here is the picture..this is after 60 shots and doctoring it up on photoshop. Mediocre...I'd say. (Not the children, the photo.)

If you know us in real life you will be receiving a hard copy courtesy of Costco's photo department easy template services in a mail box near you on or about Feb. 2nd.

Next update could include why I might quit Chinese school, why I no longer like private Kindergarten or other yet to be named bits of holiday cheer.