Saturday, December 20, 2008

Crafty Corner Notes

Do you remember my reference to Ava's plethora of of social events this month? And our strange association with numerous families who at one time or another found themselves extremely fertile somewhere at the end of February/beginning of March, subsequently having their offspring right at Christmas time? Her next birthday party is tomorrow, and since her friend is a good family friend as well, I've decided to invite ourselves along for the movie time fun. The Tale of Despereaux...surely to be the highlight of my month, so far, that is. I'll think I let Liv tag along, if she promises to keep her dirty little mitts off my extra large buttered popcorn. I don't share popcorn...ever.

I made this little hipster bag because I saw this fabric and it made me think of E, the birthday girl. Seriously, how could you have a bad day while carrying a bag with ice cream sundaes all over it? It reminds me of her sweet little personality. The only possible hitch might be the lack of pinkness, but I'm throwing caution to the wind hoping the sugary sweetness makes up.

It is now 5 days before Christmas and last night I found myself obsessing over the idea that E would need a ruffled denim skirt and appliqued tee shirt to match ice cream bag. I should have been focusing on the English Trifle I have promised to produce for Christmas dessert. We all know that I sometimes have a lack of focus in the cooking department if I can happily occupy myself elsewhere until the last possible second. Denim skirt and matching tee shirt were of course not on hand in E's size laying around the sewing room. When I awoke this morning to both of my children watching cartoons, allowing me to sleep all the way to 7:50 am...I must pause to express thanks for that small Christmas miracle, I had one thing on the brain. Go to children's resale shop to fine E a denim skirt and matching tee to applique. The muffin man packed the girls off for a morning of indoor swimming at the local pool, and I was left to my own devices. Can you beleive he was happy to take them to the pool in December but gave me the hairy eyeball when I gave strict instructions to wash them off after swimming with soap and shampoo to rid their little bodies of chlorine? I often wonder if there is something really wrong with that little Y chromosome.

All's well that end's well. It was great fun creating that ice cream sundae outfit made from resale shop finds for an amazing little 7 year old. Hope she likes it. If not, I'm sure she be distracted by the stuff under her tree in the next few days. Ugh, late December birthdays...what are these people thinking?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No Malls In December

It was off to the mall last night to see Santa. This was of course against my better judgement, since I have a rather stringent "Perrin steps foot in no malls in December" policy which I have been able to stick to quite nicely since Al Gore invented the internet. you very much for the free shipping!

However, this year the girls really wanted to see Santa. Or rather, Ava really wanted to make sure Santa knew she needs a Wii and little Olivia wants to make sure every single one of her teeth rots from her darling little head before Easter, so she's asking for candy, boat loads of it! This is important stuff that apparently cannot be placed into the competent hands of USPS. It is business done the old fashioned person, at the mall. Think vintage 1985.

Being a big white woman, taking two little adorable Chinese children to the mall dressed to the nines can of course bring a tad bit of attention our way. Admittedly, sometimes I'm a bit more in the mood for this than others. And, since I had very important meatloaf in the oven waiting to sit on my hips back on the cul-de-sac I suggested we simply go incognito this year and wear our comfies. Ava had other ideas. I know, you are shocked. Before I had threatened to drop a lump of coal into their stockings for the 30th time in retaliation for their sisterly quibbling...Ava had Olivia's best red velvet hand-me-down dress with matching tights and socially appropriate for a 3 year old turtle neck laid out on the bed. Livi declared, "I wear shiny shoes too." The rest is history. They dressed themselves in their finery, just so Santa would know Ava meant business about the whole Wii issue. When Ava brings out her beloved plaid skirted velveteen dress, recently inherited from her one-size-taller friend's closet, look out, deals will be made. Transactions will be processed.

Here they are waiting in line to see the big guy.

Of course I arrived at the mall with my Konica Minolta with super zoom in hand, only to be accosted by the sign saying something about please refrain from taking personal digital pictures until you have purchased the minimum photo requirement. Hmmmph. Have I ever mentioned that my favorite Christmas story is in fact the Grinch? But then, even my sour little heart swelled two sizes as Santa, donning a real white beard, greeted my excited children with a warm and hearty ho ho ho. "Come on up to Santa's lap", he bellowed. Not to spoil it for those of you willing to read to page 327, but we all know who sprung for the $17.99 for 2 5"x7"s right?

So, here is my personal digital picture after they had my debit card in their hot little white gloved elfy hands.

The original, taken by the elves, is remarkable similar. Ava, working the crowd assembled to see these adorable children on Santa's lap..and Livi...deer caught in the headlights.

Quite funny, if you know them in real life, or are as easily entertained as I am.

A few minutes later, after receiving their "it's a sure thing" candy canes, Ava stopped and pointed to the Christmas tree nicely decorated next to Santa. Guess what was left unwrapped under that tree?

A sign...a sign from God and Jesus and Mary too. Holy mother of electronic wonderment. Yes, this was left unwrapped under his tree. Yes, Virginia, errr ugh, Ava there is a Santa Claus.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ballet Recital

Six months ago my baby would not unhinge herself from my neck long enough to do one tumble in a gymnastics class. We asked for a refund after the 2nd attempt at class. She was just petrified and couldn't bring herself to try those monkey swings and fun mats.

There were times when I wondered if she'd ever climb off my hip outside the house. Even my chiropractor suggested dislocating the 29lbs. of Olivia off my right hip in attempt to curb some lower back pain.

All good things come to those who wait.

This is Olivia immediately following her ballet recital today. All grins. From both of us. She loves it. I'm not sure what has prompted her wonderful turnaround and confidence to try something new without me in the room. I'm not questioning it, I'm simply signing her up for more ballet after Christmas. Oh, and tap too. She's giddy just talking about tap dancing and I haven't even climbed up in to the attic yet to fish around for some old tap shoes.

In the interest of full disclosure perhaps her darling friend E seen here in the black leotard, may have helped with the bravery issue. Yes, that's me in the background camera affixed to eye snapping pictures cursing my camera for it's inability to capture even the slightest movement of a three year old. Grrr... Do cameras go on sale after Christmas?

One more photo of the sugar plum fairy in the tiniest little leotard and skirt available.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

China Buddies

This is Liv and her little friend E.

If there is one thing I am eternally grateful for these last few years after bringing the girls home, it is their playgroups. We have been so very fortunate to have found a playgroup for each of the girls comprised of little girls adopted within months of each other. Each playgroup has kids born within 4 months of each other. I cannot express how much this has meant to us. Besides the obvious companionship and camaraderie, these playgroups have given all of us the sense of normalcy. Our adoption choices are simply another way to form a Midwestern family, not a curiosity at the mall or some one's judgement of "saving those poor children". It has been amazing to have a place to go where each parent knows what it is like to have to answer awkward questions at the grocery store. Each parent knows what it is like when a child has terrible meltdowns and you wonder whether this is a normal mix of temperament and development, a bout of over tiredness, or something more deep ceded centered around profound loss. And here in the playgroup, while little girls listen to library story hour or dance petite ballerina at parks and recreation...Mom's have a safe place to just talk it out.

As playgroups often do, our groups are a litmus test of developmental psychology. Watching each of the girls' personality emerge and grow throughout the months surrounded by sisters of circumstance is both pure entertainment and perhaps a window to gauge years of social and emotional interactions to come.

I am stunned by this picture. It really does capture Liv and her friend E. E is rambunctious and quick. She is sly and funny. She, by her own doing is always perfectly accessorized. She is ultimately feminine. Liv is so cautious with new things and new people. She seems stunned then cameras emerge. But at home she is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She is kind and once she trusts you she will shower you with hugs and genuine love. At home she bounces from one piece of furniture to the next...preferring you roll and skip from room to room rather than walk on the floor. She relishes the confines of these walls that are home.

I suppose this picture, taken by E's mom, is reminding me I need to take more pictures of my remember their journey.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Social Butterfly

Where are all these women coming from who have in their lives had the nerve to get themselves pregnant somewhere around the month of February or March and then have the little darling somewhere right around the holidays? Hmmm...where are you? Doesn't anyone get knocked up in July anymore? Well, if there are, Ava doesn't know them and isn't interested in their birthday parties.
So far, she's been invited to no less than 4 birthday parties this month. This, in addition to the Disney on Ice, Holiday show at the high school, neighborhood party and Lion King later this month. No wonder she fell asleep on the way home from the Brownie Troop holiday party yesterday after school.

If this keeps up I'm just going to have to write that school of hers a note saying there is absolutely no time for her to learn her 7's addition facts and well, that reading assignment is simply getting in the way of movies at the IMAX. That should go over well right?

I know we'll just get her a personal assistant and fly Paris Hilton in to consult on the finer aspects of gracious social management.

The Muffin Man and I? Not so much. Pretty much socially challenged these days. We like to go to the meat counter at the grocery for entertainment. Giddy up.

Friday, December 05, 2008

At the Office

Hey, hope your holiday season is starting off as well as mine.

May you get to wear a party dress, have a drink in your hand, and have lovely snowflakes painted upon your face.

Did I ever tell you the one about the balloon parrot who made it to the office party?

Later on in the evening there was dancing on desks and lampshades worn as hats. May your season be merry and bright.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Busy Little Crazy Lady

I'm not exactly sure why I'm sitting here blogging this afternoon when I should be in the sewing room tackling the 19 bags I am making from 2 shows this weekend. But I've been hulled away all day and need an internet break.

So what have I been up to while unintentionally ignoring blogging?

Making bags. Lots of them, I tell you lots of them. I am eternally grateful for the sales and yet will be ready for a little holiday break in a few weeks when orders are filled and each and every teacher in our lives gets a little yummy Pink Evita bag, and toss in a few assorted friends and hostesses who will also be receiving oh, assorted baubles o' fabric..this all equals up to my eyebrows in fabric and a Christmas tree that is weeks away from moving from its current horizontal position into something more upright.

Also I have few funny stories to share. The first will be entitled I'm Too Sexy For My Treadmill, and it goes a little like this.

I'm at the gym a few days ago schlepping along to some vintage Janet Jackson on my shuffle. It look down and I've been walking a good clip for 45 minutes. I'm feeling quite good about myself and the lovely sheen I'm working up. So, I venture into the weight room area...extra confidence required here...and pick up my oh so heavy and 9lb. weights to do a few bicep curls. Everything was going great until RIP and out comes my left ear bud. In a quiet panic I drop to the floor looking for the little rubbery piece that covers the earphone thingy since it is my last little rubbery thingy and of course it would be 9 months before I could remember to go to Best Buy to buy another $.26 worth of rubbery ear piece thingys. No, rubbery thing. I casually walk around in a circle while trying to still look cool. rubbery thingy where the hell is it? Then I try to reinsert ear bud since my endorphin high is headed south quickly.

I'll be damned if the rubbery thingy is lodged in my ear. I try with all my might and my stubbly little fingernails to dislodge the rubbery ear piece from my ear. No luck. I end workout routine and head to the shower. Surely it will come out with a little slippery soap. Then I get self conscience thinking people will know I cannot manage 9lbs. of weights and have a permanently lodged ear piece rubbery thing in my ear. But then I remember that since I cannnot even reach it with my pinky finger, people probably cannot see it. This is of course anyone at the gym would even care if they knew. I now suspect they wouldn't. The shower provides no luck at all and I drive home with rubbery piece still stuck in my left ear.

It took 6 tries and eyebrow tweezers to get the thing out! I kid you not. The Muffin Man suggested an ipod lawsuit so small ear canaled people like myself are not injuring themselves while being too sexy for their treadmills.

Next story. I fished keys out of the toilet at the bank...barehanded and lived to tell the story.

Ok, the title pretty much sums it up. I wnet to the bank for a "quick" trip yesterday with Liv. Of course since it has been a whole 7 minutes since she last used the potty she insisted on using the bank potty which by the way is behind a locked door. Teller lets us in and Livi does her thing. I come out and do my banking. Liv runs amok, vandalizing their water fountain and taking a loan at 4.5% interest. Upon finishing our banking I casually say hmmm, Liv I can't find my keys. The teller asks if I might have left them in the bathroom, to which I reply, "Of course not, I never loose my keys." Then I follow her into the bathroom, which she had to unlock with a key, after dumping the contents of my bag on the counter. I peek my head in and announce, "No keys." She gets this look of doom on her face and loudly announces in her MOST grossed out voice EVER "Oh my God they are in the toilet."

Everything stops as Liv starts to cackle uncontrollably. "Livi, did you toss Mommy's keys in the potty?", I ask in my you know she is really a mean mom overly sugary public nice voice. More cackling from the three year old. The teller yells to some guy who has an office with an actual door that he needs to get her some gloves. I tell her not to panic and quickly scoop them up with my bare hands. (It was clean water, folks.) She announces that never in a million years would she ever touch something so deathly gross. I wash the keys with soap and of course my hands too and turn to her and say, "Yes, but you appear to be only 25ish... and I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess you have no children." To which she quickly conceded. I told her to think of me in a few years when she is administering her first baby butt enema at 3am in the dark while her husband sleeps peacefully. Ahhh yes, think of me then you young and blond germ free little vixen.

So, I leave you now for number 9 of 19 adorable little bags to sew. They are calling my name and refuse to make themselves. Everyone have a crazy happy turkey day. And don't forget to wash those hands.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In The Kitchen With Liv

Guess what she did this week? Baked her own 3rd birthday cake.

It was yellow, upon special request. The end result was not exact picture worthy but it was yellow and it was sweet. And, ultimately newly turned three year olds don't seem to care about perfection when it comes to birthday cakes. They only want yellow and sticky and sweet. The cake, she had been asking for cake for weeks. No presents, no fanfare, just cake.

And it was yellow, sticky and sweet. Trust me.

She scored a semi new wooden kitchen sized perfectly for someone 39" tall. (thanks for the recycle opportunity, Miss Rachel) It has provided hours of fun already.

As I got her ready for bed at the end of the big day, I told her that she was officially not allowed to grow one inch more or age one more day. That was an order, an order to which she laughed. Then I kissed her soft round outy belly button knowing we are at the tail end soft round outy belly button kisses. Truth be told I wouldn't mind having my 10 month old Livi back. She's just that sweet of a baby, I mean toddler, I mean three year old.

Pass the tissues. My baby is 3.

Friday, November 14, 2008


It's been raining for 3 days straight. No one will walk me around here. I've eaten all the garbage there is. Desperate times call for desperate measures...I ate a wicker trash can. I didn't really want to, I sometimes make bad choices. I'm canine. The Halloween Babyruth's are officially toast. The 3 year old's little ponies?? gone...I'll be pooping pink plastic for weeks.

There is nothing left to do but settle in and officially set up shop as a couch potato.

They've left me no choice. Turn on the boob tube....and none of that dog Wisperer crap either.

Days of Our Lives or I'm eating a red Sharpie marker on the new carpet. You choose.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is It Really This Late...

Please don't look at the date. Please don't. I took some great Halloween shots and I know it is reprehensible to be posting them a tad late. But this is my life now...a wee bit forgetful about important things like cheerleading practices after school and who's supposed to be bringing the teddy grahams for preschool snack while my mind is off running a little business making handbags mostly in my head.

So, here they are...or here they were. Halloween was the best one yet. Both girls competely understood the concept of free candy. And, what a wonderful thing to completely understand...ahhh free candy from the neighbors. After the free candy was dispensed we hopped in the car and went to our friend's amazing party. Boy can that gal throw a Halloween party. You know who you are. It's better than Christmas if you ask me..all that Halloween goodness.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Slacker Mom Goes all Scary

I honestly thought my day yesterday was going just fine and I was all uber-mom when I remembered that it was the day before Halloween and I dressed my Olivia in an orange tee shirt as we headed off to preschool. All the way there I was mentally calculating how much work I could accomplish in my 5 heavenly child free hours today.

We pull into the parking lot and the kid next to us getting out of his minivan is wearing a full Dalmatian dog outfit. Oh, how cute I thought, the 4's class must be letting their kids wear costumes. Then we enter the building and round the corner only to hear the teacher say..."Oh, Phoenix (no, I didn't make that up, the kid's name is Phoenix...and don't think I won't get to the bottom of that story before May) what a wonderful Buzz Lightyear you make." Oh shit, Livi is the only one of 10 kids not in full on Halloween garb. I'm trading in the stainless steel refrigerator for my old semi working white one that allows you to stick life's important memos to it with magnets...obviously I missed the preschool calendar notes this month.

Wait it gets worse. The teachers inform me that I can simply come back 15 minutes early before the Halloween show to dress her in a costume. Ah, what show I ask. They laugh acting like they are playing along with my dimwit game, "acting" like I don't know that there is some show today at 10:30am. I then proceed to ask what the kids will do after the show as far as the costumes go, since several of the kids, including my Olivia stay for extended day to play in their fabulous gymnasium. As luck would have it they have decided that there is no extended day during holidays. Halloween, a full holiday warranting early dismissal? What's next? No preschool on Secretary's Day. But remember to pay the full amount on the way out please.

Ok, so I'm to show up 4 hours early for preschool pumpkin songs, a cookie and early dismissal. Hmmm...making those seven handbags probably isn't going to happen, I think sullenly to myself on the way out.

I left seriously unnerved and wearing the scarlet letter S...for slacker mom. Then I came back to preschool in 1 hour after scurrying on home for Olivia's 1/2 finished costume. I was off balance all day until my girlfriend across the street who works a real full time job while raising 2 sons told me that she completely forgot to take her 11 year old to the first 2 whole days of school television crew practice. She just completely forgot for 2 whole days. When she asked the volunteers in charge they simply said they thought he might be sick since he was a no show. See, I'm not the only one in the neighborhood with a stainless steel refrigerator.

Here is Liv, on stage, checking out the people setting up the treat bags and cookie stand out in the audience, stage right.

And here is she auditioning for the NY Philharmonic. I mean shaking little bells to the tune of 5 little pumpkins sitting on a fence.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

Notice something different? Something missing? Something in the general dental auxillary area missing? Yes, at exactly 6 years 9 months this child finally lost a tooth. The new one just plain old evicted the little baby one. Came up right behind it in a few short weeks and're out.

I'm verclempt. Not really because she's old enough to sprout adult teeth, more because damn it if I didn't work as hard as she did for the little itty bitty lost tooth. I swear I thought we would both lose our minds getting baby teeth for that poor child. My whole life revolved around what kind of day we would have based on how much pain she was in birthing those damn beautiful pearly whites, for several months. She screamed bloody murder and I walked around in sweaty old tee shirts drooling out one side of my mouth one half in sympathy and the other due to sleep deprivation due to aforementioned screaming of bloody murder. And believe me if the new ones are not as straight and white and as downright lovely as the old ones...I writing a letter to China. And it won't be polite. No, I'm in no hurry to see those babies go. Thank goodness the one next to it isn't even loose yet. There is mercy in the universe.

So, the tooth fairy. I'm sure your all wondering what the heck happened with the tooth fairy on such a momentous occasion. She came, she saw, whe wrote a note and kindly left $2 whole dollars. The tooth fairy figured since you can't even get a pack of good sugarfree gum for under $1.25 she would play the big spender the first time and cough up the extra dollar. Call her what you may, but cheap she is not.

Notice the note she left actually came from toothfairy headquarters? Might have been a slow night since it is from headquarters, and not some crappy satellite office in Roanoke.
After school, Ava prolaimed that some first graders don't even believe that the tooth fairy is real. Travesty, I tell you. But don't you worry Ava knows she is real. Want to know how? She said she noticed she left her last name on the note and only real people have last names. I admitted I didn't get the last name bit when I read the note. "Headquarters, is her last name name right?", said Ava. The note says: From: Toothfairy Headquarters.

How do I love that kid, let me count the ways. Any kid that can make me virtually pee my pants while eating scalloped corn...well, I do love that kid. Tooth gapped and all.

Friday, October 10, 2008

School 8 Weeks In; Life 6 Years In

We are now just about 8 weeks into 1st grade. Ava absolutely loves school and is learning so much, very fast...and not all of it is academic either. Some good and some shall we say, inevitable. Some of this stuff in the inevitable department is why I am a huge supporter and believer in public school education. It takes all kinds to make the world go around, to make us tolerant human beings, and to learn to swear properly on the kickball field. Ava is learning all of these important life lessons. She is sifting through what is appropriate for school, what is appropriate for home and what it feels like when a simply adorable little boy named Matt completely dumps you for all the womanly mysteries that are a little girl named Hailey. I haven't had the heart to tell her; hey baby, hold on until 7th grade, it will be far worse.

Just like Kindergarten we are also experiencing after school full atomic green meltdowns complete with slimy goo spilling out both ears while her head spins and she shouts in primal pain. I know deep down in my heart this is karmic payback for the tantruming 4ft. jumping brat that I was at the same age, and dare I admit much older too. Each and every time she is so tired that she melts onto the floor cursing me for living and subsequently gets sent to her room, I think of my mother and how she had to deal with my drama all those years. I'm still the reigning queen of a good temper tantrum, ask anyone East of the Mississippi.

So why is she so tired? What is it in her day that exhausts her physically and emotionally? She attends 1st grade full time, obviously. She graces the Brownie troop with her presence once every two weeks and she goes to Chinese school on Sunday afternoons for two hours. No dancing classes, no soccer, no afterschool care, no cooking lessons, nada. Of course she begs for a gymnastics class now and then but I've said no since she seems to be just keeping her little emotional head above water as it is.

Perhaps it goes back to her one big whopper of an issue that I know I've mentioned before. That ever elusive thing called sleep. You know the one thing in life that is supposed to rejuvenate and refresh the human body and spirit? Yeah, she's not all about that. Never has been. I have that child in her bed lights out between 7:59 and 8:00pm each and every night. And yet, it is not uncommon for me to trip over her on my floor during a 2am bathroom run. Sometimes she plays her music and reads at 3am. Perhaps her people might have been part vampire. These sleep issues do have a pattern. At the start of the school year her sleep issues become exacerbated, that is a pattern no doubt.

In addition, she's choosing adoption books for us to read quite a bit recently. The other night we read An Mei's Strange and Wonderous Journey. She was so quiet and looked about to cry that I just wanted to toss the book across the room. "Why can't we just read Dr. Seuss again, I thought." But, I know better...if she is choosing the book she needs to hear the story and work through awareness of issues. She had so many questions about the physical appearance of her birthmother. All of which I could not answer. My inability to answer a question frustrates Ava to no end, it always has. As I tucked her into bed after reading the book she shouted in utter frustration, "I just cannot remember. I can't remember what she looked like. I was too young to remember and now I've forgotten everything. I think I lived in a straw mud house but I don't remember anyone." Ava is notorious for remembering everything. The kid has a steel trap for a brain and can remember the details of some average playdate three years ago. Perhaps that is why this one thing about not remembering is such a difficult pill to swallow. I suppose when you are 6 years old it does not register that the cognitive part of the human brain just does not often remember life at 2, 4, 6, and 8 months old.

And so we push on. The Muffin Man and I knew full well that parenting these kids would not be all patent leather mary janes and bows to match pink dresses. Or so the social worker warned.

I suspect the sleep issues will even out as Ava gets more and more used to the routine of school. Perhaps some of the frustration related to her beginnings will too as we try to normalize living with it and talking it through as well.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cronies Come Home

This is old news, but I'm home. I've been home for a week and a half and I'm just now getting to the part where I document in writing that I'm home.

Girls weekend with my gal pals, my cronies, my sista's from other motha's was a hoot. As you can see we quickly found a northern Michigan winery. We bellied up to the bar slurped down a few pino grigio's and the rest is history.

Here is a "best twilight zone story" of the weekend and then I'll move on to my usual cul-de-sac mundane crap. My little pal Leanne's (sitting next to moi and front row on the left in the picture)mom wanted her to hook up with a long lost cousin on the trip. Isn't there always a long lost cousin? We all politely grinned..and said sure we'll drop your ass off downtown Traverse City so you can party on down with Aunt Becky and Cousin Matt. Pick you up at 10. Kidding, we were all much more disgustingly polite than that. Anyhoo, Leanne calls Matt and he wants to hook up for a drink and tells us all the hot spots in town. Aunt Becky is not in for the deal. And by the way check out my retail store while you are there. So, there we are, us 5 moms heading on into town killing time shopping for tee shirts when we detour into cousin Matt's store. I smell patchouli, Lisa picks up a very classy looking roach clip and asks what it is, Carrie pulls out a tee shirt that says "Jesus is coming, pass a napkin." (Yes, it took me over 5 minutes to even get it before quickly taking my-hands-off-that-tee-shirt.) Then someone under their breath says, this is cousin Matt's place! I start howling. You're kiddding...a head shop? Leanne turns a deep shade of purple and quickly says that she will go meet Matt and catch up with us in a few. "Oh no!", I say, You can't ditch me." Can't wait to meet cousin Matt. :)

Matt and his friends were great. Shocking normal...much to my dismay. He explained that the retail shops (he owns a few) are simply an extension of his 18 year old self. He also owns a plastics company. Go figure, probably an extension of his 40 year old self that loves an amazing house on the lake with a boat slip to match.

Then we came back to our cottage and I spent an embarassing amount of time trying to learn to crochet little Amigurami pigs. Whew, rock on...good thing girls wekeend only comes around once a year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heading to The Lake of Crystal

It's Crystal Lake time again. Time for me to load up in a mini van full of my cronie girlfriends drive the open road for a long time, and end up at a lake house far remote from anything like the normal routine of 1st grade Brownie troop meetings, 2 year old playdates, lots of dishwashing...and quality stitching time at the sewing machine.

Ahhh, 3 whole days filled with wine and women. Three whole days of eating at the best little Jewish deli this side of NYC each and every morning. Three whole days of sitting on a deck and watching the water slowly move left and right. Three whole days of touring every little west side Michigan winery and its requisite gift shop.

If only I wasn't so darn tired just getting ready to get in that mini van. I tell you it has taken me 2 solid days just to prepare for my dear father coming, who has offered to toss the Muffin Man a life line and come stay to help entertain the young'uns, and prep the house, the book bags, the lunch boxes, the laundry etc... Because God only knows I couldn't step foot out of the state without every bed linen changed and every set of size 2T pajamas being wholly and absolutely sparkling clean and neatly placed in that top drawer. Hello insanity, just toss a pair of jeans in the duffle and put your butt down in the van and go already. But, Friday is 1st grade picture day and we all know if I'm not here to fight with Ava about how she will wear her peace will certainly run asunder and my 6 year old will have ratty hair preserved for posterity and all of time in a Lifetouch gray background 2x3 photo. This is forever people, 1st grade class pictures are at stake.

And yet, I could use a little time off the cul-de-sac. So the little royal court that is run by moi will have to find a way to operate without it's benevolent dictator for three short days. I'm sure it will be filled with plenty of ice cream and swinging time to satisfy even my subjects.

T minus 16 hours and counting until minivan lift off. Perhaps I'll share a picture of the gals and I at Madonna's father's vineyard upon my return.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

9/16 Makes 6

This picture will be forever embedded in the recesses of my mind. I can smell the crowded conference room and elevator lobby. The man with the black bag was a local guide and sang to us on bus rides those 6 days we were in Changsha. This most auspicious of all days should have been relaxed and calm. It wasn't and to this day I cannot relax my stomach when seeing this photo. It was moments before Jing Tang, now Ava, was carried off the elevator to meet us. I had never been more scared in my whole life. That was exactly 6 years ago today.

She was handed to me and simply stared at me with the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Her perfect little round face sat square on sturdy shoulders. She had no eyelashes. Her size 18 month Western sleeper hung on her body even though she was quite a chunk of amazing baby bulge. Her fingers were perfect, there were 10, I noticed that right away. I suppose that is what all parents do, count fingers. My long arms and tall frame must have felt very awkward for her. But she was silent, for all of 3 minutes. And then the baby next to us in the conference room started to cry. Ava Jing couldn't take it any more, she let out a wail that still rocks my soul just thinking about it. I wanted to run. Get this poor child out of here, I thought. But there was no where to run, there seemed to be hundreds of people blocking our way. Chinese officials stamping A4 sized papers, well wishing parents and crying nannies all stood sentry blocking my escape. She cried and I panicked through a gritty smile. My husband wanted to video tape our first minutes with her. I couldn't get over the raw indignity of the public nature of this our first meeting with the person whom we would forever call daughter. I wanted no video tape. To this day I shutter at the thought of watching it. It is just too emotional, too raw.

And then we were released to our hotel rooms. Each family was supposed to retire comfortably for some alone time to feed their child, calm them and begin that almost elusive bonding. Ava just wailed, obviously pining for someone who knew better than us how to calm her rattled nerves.

Here the Muffin Man holds our new daughter, 17lbs. of gorgeous strangeness. He looks happy, and truly he was able to embrace the moment so much better than yours truly. She rewarded him with the priviledge of holding her without terrified screams. I look into that face in the picture today and almost don't see her. The real Ava. I see a far scared and tramautized 8 month old who had just had her world rocked. Someone tipped that bough just a little too far, is what she would say in the picture if she could.

I pressed on the next few days as if she were a project to be managed. There was never a project I couldn't manage, it was all about planning and executing to the written order. Or, it had been in the past.

She had her doubts about my plans and projects.

And, then we found water. A perfect equalizer in her mind. Any woman willing to stick her in a warm bath couldn't be all that terrible. And so we bathed and bathed that next week.

It has now been 6 years with Ava. I wouldn't give even one of them up. Not one day, and there have been a few where I once thought, hmmm...maybe we'll just forget about this one. But no. This person, our daughter is an amazing spirit that we are simply honored to be in the presence of. She's a survivor, she'll do anything she has the inkling to do, I'm just so forever grateful she saw it in her plan to make us part of her life.

Happy 6th adoption day, my Ava, my Evita, my love.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moon Festival

It's Chinese Moon Festival time already again this year. Our city held the first ever all city Chinese festival downtown sponsored by the mayor's office. Chinese American organizations

from all over the area were invited to participate. There were food vendors, entertainment, and cultural booths. It was not a huge festival but definitely something I can see growing quite a bit in the next few years.

I decided to take the girls on my own since the Muffin Man has a hurt foot and can't do too much walking. (Another story for another day.) I always struggle how to dress the girls at events like this. On the one hand I don't want to be the obnoxious white woman with children of color pushing their "traditional" garb on them a few times a year for the sake of dressing them up like silk dolls. Let's be honest, I'm not sure this is even slightly representative of their traditional garb. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that red tulle fluffy knee length skirts were not in fact traditional dress of Chinese women of the Ming Dynasty. Just a hunch. On the other hand if they want to wear the outfits because either they enjoy the colors and ummm...twirl factor on a skirt and seem to be proud of wearing something special to a special event...hey, what the heck? And really, where and when else will they ever wear the 1600 dresses I thought we needed while shopping the streets of Guangzhou in 2002 and 2006? I asked them what they wanted to wear and this is what they came up with. And darn it it if might not end up being our Christmas card this year. Now seriously how convoluted is that? We are nothing if not a family willing to mix the secular with sacred when it comes to cheap imitation red silk.

The festival was pretty darn fun, if I don't count the fact that my two year old did not read the memo about napping in the stroller as was instructed. She sort of grumped her way through paper cutting and chop stick tossing until falling asleep mouth wide open a mere three hours late. Oh did I mention that I took my children to this fabulous cultural opportunity 1/2 hour's drive away, by myself in 90 degree heat and all they wanted to do upon arriving was jump in the bouce house that was on the property? Not being one for extreme sports including kid and toddler whining punishment I said, "Have at it munchkins... jump until you barf your lunch, I'll be here waiting for you under this shade tree." They jumped for what seemed like an eternity and they we were able to enjoy the culture and festivities.

They best part of the day was when Ava wore me down and scored ice cream at the festival. She happily announced in front of a large group waiting behind us in line, "Wow, Mom we sure are good at spending your money."

Ahhh, yes you are darling. Yes you are.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Everybody's Adjusting To School

Ava: State of Affairs

Ava has clearly adjusted to school. In the last two weeks she had taken spelling tests, and aced them. She rides a very large bus. She has even found ways to make the ten year old neighbor girl her very own personal playmate, even though a much older and probably cooler 11 year old girl lives in between the two girls. Eleven year old girl still will not be caught dead with 1st grader Ava. But it is only September, and there is of course time for her to weave her complicated web drawing older and more sophisticated beings into her inner circle.

And her new favorite thing to say to me is.....

"Mom, your lip gloss is soooo not shiny any more." Then she bursts into hysterical giggles and skips away.

The kicker is, she gets proper timing, and just when to get me with the lipgloss comments. Move over've met your match. Although, my daughter will not be banning anyone's books. I'm still her mother and I won't allow that.


Liv: State of Affairs

Went to preschool last week day one...cried only 10 minutes...a rousing success if you ask me.
Went to preschool day two and cried over 1/2 an hour and would not participate in very much at all. Declares little girl named Sara her good friend. "Sara nice, no hurt." Hmmm....must speak to teacher about that comment.

All weekend, I occasionally hear...No peeskool, I kwry." Oh child, do twist that knife in my heart before you take it out again. Need I explain why you simply must venture off the cul-de-sac and out of the Caillou infested playroom before age 4 again?

Tomorrow is peeskool day three. I'm gearing up.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Two Most Glorious Years With Liv

There are simply no words to describe how much we have grown to love this little girl. Yesterday marked 2 years since this picture was taken on the bus, in the rain, as we rolled away from the Guangzhou Civil Affairs Building with the greatest of all gifts life can bring. It is still often inconceivable to me that you can roll up to a big government office with only a red bag of trinket gifts, line up behind 10 other families and then be handed a baby with only the clothes on her back. And you are hers and she is yours.

She has made us 4. She has made us laugh. She has softened us, no easy task in a house full of type A's.

In the last two years she has been scared but now pulls herself away the comfort of my arms. She has been hungry but now fills herself and knows when to read her body's signs to stop. She has known the pains of intimate eye contact with an adult who seeks trust, but now freely engages. She has compulsively and repetitively pulled at her skin as an attempt to soothe what is uncomfortable on the inside and out but now seems calmer as she handles life's daily stresses. She is an shining example to others as she always shows unending kindness towards others. I sometimes ache for her when we are not near. I love her with all of my heart, and then some more.

And, it is on this day two years later that I once again wonder where her biological family is. Are they safe, are they well, do they think of her? I am sorry they cannot be with this beautiful child. I wish they could have seen her two pigtails bobbing through the store aisles while she played hide and seek with me only an hour ago. In my mind I imagine that would ease their burden.

Tonight we will light our customary 3 family day candles.
  • One for China, the country from which she came. They saw fit to trust us with her. We are grateful.
  • One for her biological family. This candle as it is lit comes with a prayer for their health and happiness. May they know in their hearts that the little girl they had to let go landed on safe ground.
  • And finally, one candle for us as a family of four. May we bring each other peace and understanding throughout the years to come.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm In a Chinese School Daze

I know I've mentioned it here before that Ava, our 6 1/2 year old attends Mandarin language classes on Sunday afternoons at the Chinese Community Center. This fall marks the beginning of our 3rd year there. Hardly newbies...and yet hardly fitting in.

I'll start by saying my personal goals and motivations for spending 2 hours at Chinese school on Sundays have absolutely nothing to do with learning fluent Mandarin. In my opinion this is a completely unattainable goal in a non-Mandarin speaking household on a mere 2 hours a week...even if we did practice more. All of my goals are not clearly defined in my own mind though I have put considerable thought into what the heck I want out of a Chinese school experience for my Chinese born child. I'll admit to winging it as a first time parent to an adopted child that I pulled from her home country as I navigate the few cultural resources I have available. I will say that as Ava gets a little older she is pushing back. Chinese school has Chinese teachers, who teach in the Chinese way. It is not like American Kindergarten and 1st grade. You sit down, you raise your hand and you memorize stuff. You study, and you hope to be the best. ( I make a point of offsetting that "being the best" crap whenever applicable.) Ava told me that she doesn't like it anymore and wants to quit. This is the first time I have ever pushed her a little harder to stick with something. So we signed up again.

Before I go further let me say that I would feel like a complete and utter failure as an adoptive parent of a child of a different race and heritage if I did not try to at least expose them to that race and heritage in the formative years of their lives. What an ass I would be if I just assumed that being raised American and white would be enough to insure emotional stability for the entirety of their lives.

I am making an assumption here, but I think my girls will indeed choose some sort of higher education after high school. At the very least I plan to make sure they know it IS an option for them. I believe the life experience of higher education is intrinsically valuable above and beyond the obvious book learning. So, it is off to dorm life they will go...kidding, sort of. With that being said I simply cannot stand the thought of my daughters as 18 year old freshmen walking by the Asian American Alliance or the Chinese campus organization or Asian sorority and turning a blind eye thinking there is absolutely no place for her in that club or organization because even though her skin and face look like those other students...she knows deep in her heart is not them. Their talk is foreign, what they do on Saturday nights is foreign, what their mama's house smells like at dinner time is foreign, their punishing attitude towards achievement is foreign....this scenario seems overwhelmingly sad to me. My girls should know something, even if it is snippets of what it means to be Chinese in America...or France if they decide on the Sorbonne. Again, tongue in cheek. Damn it if they want to "pass" or try to "pass" I think they should be given that opportunity to see if it is where they want to be.

And this is why we go, each and every week. Perhaps my goal is simple normalcy in all that is them, the real Chinese. I told Ava that I honestly did not care what she does at the Chinese school, it could be dance, Gong Fu, Tai Ji or language, but she had to choose something. As of this summer she reluctantly signed up for folk dance. But then her teacher suggested we try a semi-immersion class with children more her own age this fall. Ava has for the last few years been on the younger end of the children in the class. I thought this would be a good idea...some English and some Mandarin spoken in the class of 5-7 year olds rather than the wholly English class of only American families with Chinese children who are a few years older. That English Mandarin class had seriously dwindling numbers and was in jeopardy of closing. So, I signed her up for language again to try this new class.

This brings us to last week. We go to the assigned class, which is now integrated. It is about 50% Chinese families and 30% adoptive families and 20% English speaking non-white families. This is comprised of mixed race families, and 2nd or 3rd generation Chinese or Asian families that speak 100% English in the home. I am ecstastic. We FINALLY get to be in a class where we can associate with some families who are not exactly like ours.

And of course, it is chaos. The teacher is nearly in tears with the number of students, apparently she thought there would be less. And the Chinese families are sitting on one side and the rest of us are on the other. Then one father starts in on how his child needs to have some English in the classroom, because they don't speak Mandarin at home. He is Asian and so is his child. The teacher turns a lovely shade of purple and announces that perhaps this isn't the class for junior, in the nicest way possible, of course. Mr. I Need English states that the enrollment folks told him to come here. Chinese families squirm and some white parents appear wide eyed. I'm in the back, rolling my eyes because quite frankly here we go again. (Organization and finite planning are not this schools' strong point.)

At the end of the orientation, if you could call it that Ava somehow missed being on the list to get a set of books. I stay after class to add her name to the list. The teacher apologizes profusely and I tell her "Hey girl, Don't sweat it." Ok, perhaps I was a tad more formal, but you get the drift. Then I turn on my heels as one of the Chinese mom's starts laying into the teacher. She's speaking Mandarin at about 110 miles and minute and I'm catching only a word or two at very best. Clearly she is not happy, and I do hear FCC families, in English spoken several times. Ok, so I'm at this point inferring that she is not pleased that her little darling is in class with the likes of anyone not authentically Chinese and or speaking Mandarin in the home. I'm somewhat surprised she would have this conversation right in front of me...but heh, she was correct to assume that I don't speak fluent Mandarin. But hey lady, I do speak body language and can understand a few words like FCC Families. Of course I'm also finely tuned in the universal language of "pissy". At this point there is nothing else to do but hold my head up high turn on a dime and get the hell out of there. I did not want to add to the teacher's distress and I honestly never believe it is appropriate for adults to get overly snippy and petty in front of children. That is to be done after they go to bed.

Later on in the week, we all get an email saying everyone has been assigned to new classrooms. And guess what? All the kids who's parents don't speak Mandarin are in one class and all the kids who whose parents speak Mandarin are in another. Lovely...we are now segregated again.

And honestly, who am I to complain? My kid gets to go to Mandarin class...albeit on the fringe. She could take dancing if she'd like. She could take Gong Fu, even though we were told it was for boys. Now that is one I AM willing to fight about. This school is primarily run by volunteers who are serving the people that mostly make up their contingency...high achieving 1st generation Chinese Americans who have attended only the best schools in China and are now doctors and scientists working for a very large pharmaceutical company here in town or one of the few universities here. There isn't one schlep in the bunch. They worked hard to get here...and now nothing will stand in the way of their children topping even their accomplishments.

Is this school the right place for our family? I don't know. I have often spoken to leaders of the community and they are warm and inviting, saying they love our children...their children...see, it's confusing. They want to serve the community at large and you don't need to be Chinese to be at the community center. But, then maybe they are having growing pains too, not always agreeing about the direction and the tone of the organization and the school.

We'll just take it week by week and see what happens. It's times like these that I wish the Muffin Man hadn't forgotten the manual at the hotel in Changsha.

Monday, August 25, 2008


No, not the real Olivia you know and love. Olivia the Pig. All about Olivia the Pig over here.

Sorry, were you expecting something along the lines of Ian Falconer?


I also have some heavy thoughts and observations about our new year of Chinese school brewing in my head...soon to be brewing on the blog. But seriously, I've had to let my white privileged, majority enjoying self cool off and think things through before I make a complete ass of myself by spewing off impulsively. Let's just say I've had a bitty little taste of assumptive disrespectful behavior and, shocker, poor me I didn't like it.

More about muddling through meager attempts at fitting in at Chinese school as the very large and very white elephant in the back of the room later.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Yards of Tulle

I love the section of my newspaper that mentions local small businesses and of course shopping opportunities. I admit I rarely go buy anything from these companies and use them mostly for my own entertainment and creative inspiration. Does this make me a heel? Someday when my ship full of gold sails into the front yard...I swear I'll burn up that plastic buying from local artisans. Right now, baby needs a new pair of shoes, and its sadly not a new pair of pink mary janes with yellow flowers. Capishe?

Last week I saw this adorable web site mentioned...simply sweet tutus. Oh, the adorable yards and yards of amazing cotton candy colored tulle. My heart swooned. My girls need tutus, I thought. Never mind that neither one is especially girlie, but they do enjoy dressing up together. You're seeing where this is going right?

I latched onto this tutu idea like a pit bull to raw meat and while Liv and I were out last week buying some supplies for Pink Evita, I was freakishly distracted by a wall of soft tulle in all colors at the local fabric joint. "I know, I'll make everyone I know a magic tutu for Christmas", I thought excitedly. She picked pink and I picked blue for Ava. Her favorite, of course.

We ran home and I excited started cutting tulle into strips. I measured her tiny little waist and for some reason couldn't stop attaching pink strips of tulle to the elastic. There was bits of tulle flying throughout the kitchen. The muffin man pulled a 6" piece from the microwave. I think there might be ten yards of tulle strapped to her little waist.

No wonder she doesn't like it.
This is what happened exactly 30 seconds after she reluctantly modeled the thing.
In a strange turn of events the puggle is the most girliest of them all here on the cul-de-sac. She can't get enough of the thing. She looks like she's frowning here, but I swear she is at this moment frolicking around the house with the enormous pink puff ball stuck to her nose.

Another craft catastrophe. Hmmmmph...I guess that is why some people pay the professionals to do a job.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

1st Day of 1st

I did in fact attempt to take photos of my dear 1st grader on her 1st day of 1st grade, which happened this week. But, wouldn't you know it, perhaps it was because I was forced to recognize the un-godly hour of 6:30am...all the pictures I took were grim at best. Yes, this shot was the best of the lot.

Poor little kid has to get up at 6:30am to catch the bus at 7:25am. An unwelcome 25 minutes earlier than last year due to the headache inducing major construction project going on next door at our intersection of all American dream and how precious can one road project really get in this town. The one redeeming factor is that by December 1st this little road project which is giving me headaches from the constant day and night banging banging is that my kids might not ever have to take that 7:25am bus again since we are supposed to be getting some kick ass sidewalk out of the deal that leads directly to the elementary school.

So there she is...Ava is now officially a 1st grader. She even had homework last night. Most of which required me to run around the house finding pictures of the family, trips to China, and summer vacations. She was in charge of writing the story to accompany each one. Olivia colored the kitchen table with markers while all this was going on. Seriously, how do large families do the homework thing without the little ones burning the joint down? Email me separately if you know the secret.

I'm thrilled she's thrilled with the whole school shebang, but I'm also ambling around the house a bit. Livi asks to go the pool about 6 times a day, it is closed during the week now and I'm just not sure what our schedule should be. It has dawned on me that I might pick up a broom and clean something around here, but I've resisted and the summer grime persists. Oh joy.

Remind me how I go through this usual 1-2 week funk when our schedules abruptly change each and every summer and fall. Change is not easy for me. I'm like the fish that got tossed out of the tank immediately before someone decides to pick me up and tosses me back into swim the pink coral and 6" castle. Where's Nemo?

Think about how I'll be all sunshine and roses when Livi starts preschool in a few weeks.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

As We Walked The Pork Tent

In my town there are two types of people, people who are state fair snobs and absolutely refuse to attend each and every August even though the state fair serves up big yummy fried stuff and meat on a stick. Perhaps that's part of the reason they are state fair snobs to begin with. And then, there are your state fair enthusiasts. I personally haven't met anyone in the middle politically when speaking of the state fair in mixed company. You love it or hate it, it's a Hilary thing.

I used to be a state fair snob. I went once in the early 1990's and suffered my way through the entire day. It was hot, lots and lots of sweaty people, not one vegetable within ear shot and did I mention the lots and lots of sweaty people...some without teeth. So, for the next 10 years I was a proud and unrepentant state fair snob, wouldn't touch the place.

Then I starting taking up with a couple of little neo-fair'ites on a regular basis. I have repented and seen the light. The light of a fried twinkie, light enough to brighten up even the darkest hour has changed my once dreary and cold heart forever.

Yesterday was it, state fair day. We went with our friends...who are quite frankly, hardcore. Arrive early, leave late and munch munch munch along the way. I am not afraid to tell you I walked a mile and a half after being at the fair for 8 hours just to get the best damn cheese popcorn this state makes. It was that kind of day.

It was a food tour-de-force to make Emeril and Paula blush. This is how good Livi's first snack of corn dog was. This was especially meaningful to the group since it contained BOTH something fried AND meat on a stick.

If that is not worth $4.50, I don't know what is. Mmmmm...good.

The kids ate their corn dogs and fries while I was scolded for choosing that plate of fries for the children to share. My friend explained..."Fries? no no, you can get those any old day, you must get something more exotic it's our day at the fair." Oh, I nodded in sophomoric agreement as ketchup dribbled onto my tee shirt. My friend added a paper basket of fried green tomatoes to the table for emphasis. Oh, and they were heavenly.

On our way over to the rides I stopped for a lemon shake up. In another good hearted but lame move on my part I decided to share with my kids and my friend's daughter. Needless to say I should have upped the order to the 32oz. lemon shake up...I got exactly 4 sips for myself.

Meanwhile, we arrive at the carnival rides section of the fair and my friend announces we need the family pack of at least 25 tickets. (In past years, I have NEVER conceded to let my children ride the rides.) Hey, they are operating on a horses stomach over at the equine barn, who needs rides? All of us rode the ferris wheel and not one of us saw a seat belt! And we lived to tell about it.

After Ava rode the log water ride all by herself my friend started to speak quietly and leaned into me as if she wanted to share a secret. I tilted my head as she announced, "I have a secret. I have been in the closet for years but I LOVE the games. Want to win the kids a stuffed animal?" I replied, "What are you crazy, pay $20.00 for a stupid cheap stuffed dog? " Stop, you must know what happened next.

My little Ava soaked that water balloon with the gun faster than anyone else, beating my friend two times in a row...she and her little friend walked out of there with matching pugs.

After all the stuffed animal winning drama I started to loosen up a bit. How could one not be happy surrounded by so many corn dogs?

This corn dog tent won most original dressing up of corn dogs 2008. Blue ribbon corn dog presentation if you will.

Here is my friend L and her daughter E. Pay close attention to the corn dog second from the left. Don't worry, I don't think Mr. Corn Dog inhales.

After, more fun with corn dogs I promptly purchased a fully loaded cheesy chicken quesidilla. It was all of 20 minutes before I was running to the nearest, ummm, ladies room.

To cheer myself up...a trip to the snow cone kiosk. What else could I do?

But then the same thing happened to the sno cone that happened to my lemon shake up. Why does Liv still weigh 27 lbs but my pants are tight? Interesting phenomenon that should be studied next year in the bovine tent.

After all this merriment we stumbled on the outdoor circus, and saw an elephant walk on a ball. That site was beaten in shock and awe value when we saw a 63 year old woman in spandex "Vogue" as her 5 Afgan dogs jumped six feet bars. The quesidilla was rumbling again, it had to have been the spandex sighting. I looked at my watch and we had been at the fair no shorter than 7 1/2 hours at that point.

It was then that my friend announced she would be walking 1 1/2 miles to the farthest popcorn tent there was in the central state area before getting in the car to go home. Was I in? At that point, how could I say no to yet more adventure. Off we went, working our little pork filled legs to the cheesy popcorn tent.

Today, I'm a little sad there is no champion grey rabbit to pet or 1200 lb. World's Largest Pig to snicker at. Oh well , there's always next year to get the fried bananas foster cheescake.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Accounting 101

In the last 2 days I've spent about 5 hours trying to balance my hard drive version of MS Money to the online version of my bank's assessment of our local checking account. And, I'm approximately 1/2 way done. I'm only out of balance $130.00 for the record. But I still have 6 months left to go.

Why would anyone want or need to spend this much time on such a mundane project? Well, it appears that if you don't actually balance your checking account in 13 might get a little out of whack. No really, it might, trust me.

Let me back up the rolling out of control financial train here by saying that I've been slightly aware all summer that I was perhaps minorly out of balance...a tad out of balance in my world is no need to panic and take drastic measures like printing off an online statement or anything. I really thought I had been sticking my fingers in my ears while singing la la la la taking the passive approach to cul-de-sac financial matters for approximately 3-4 months. The big old 13 months...well, that was a shocker...even to me.

How does one get this out of touch with reality? Well, I don't know in my world money is just not colorful and interesting. It is interesting when I have enough to hop on over to Target to buy whatever nonsense I need this week. In depth teachings from Suzy Orman and Alan Greenspan...not so much. I'm desperately trying to configure a way that I can blame my kids...because mostly that is the way I operate around here...poor me I'm so distracted by two little girls eating their weight in yogurt bars and Yogos. But I suppose that would be over the top even for me...I couldn't balance my checking account since I have 2 kids. Perhaps I will ultimately justify my lackadaisical behavior on the fact that I am truly a work at home mom now. My sewing room seems to foster the "life in a bubble" lifestyle I seem to relish. But then again, I do have several close friends who miraculously work 50+ hours a week, grocery shop, and have 2+ kids. But then again they don't have the Today show habit that I do. Points for me again.

Reading line by line what we spent at the grocery 8 months ago and reviewing online expenditures of $4.99 and below 10 1/2 months ago, is shall I say the true butt lashing I deserve for letting this go on so long.

Maybe I need a brownie to cheer me up. No wait, I don't want to have to balance that damn brownie $2.50 expenditure in the checking account in about another 13 months from now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Your Room Young Lady

Did your mom ever make you spend the whole afternoon in your room?

Ava's Mom did.

Here's the thing, for the last week taking my children to public places has been well ummm...rather hellish. They run in different directions at the chiropractors, they pull shit down off the walls at the hobby place, and they were caught licking the floor at the grocery store - in separate aisles, no less. (I'm saving that tidbit for the first boy they ever decide to kiss.) And, don't even ask what happened when I tried to take the dog to the groomer with both of them in tow. It was not pretty. Let's just say the dog was the most well behaved on that trip off the cul-de-sac.

So, today I warned them and I warned them good. No shenanigans, stay close to me and do not touch one bolt of $50.00 a yard fabric. We enter the store and they make a bee line for the cording by the roll, pick it up and take off running...cording in hand unraveling throughout the store. Squealing in delight, no less.

The rather snippy mean lady checking me out barked something about not wiping noses on the cream damask silk drapery. I grabbed the first little arm I could get pinched it lightly and said SIT DOWN. Two very beautiful almond shaped eyes glared at me and one little pouty lipped girl simply said NO. I immediately had a kitten and walked out of the store...quiet and eloquent with rage.

I did not yell, amazingly enough. I did not stomp, still reveling at that one. I like to stomp on occasion. I simply announced that little girls who cannot listen and who act like heathens will no longer be privy to society.

It's a few hours later and little trouble is sleeping it off. Big trouble is starting to feel the pain since all the puzzles have been put together, all the dress up clothes are strewn over the floor and she's been denied scissors. I'm not sure why she needed scissors but today is not a day for her to wielding sharp implements, just for everybody's overall personal safety.

Oh god of raising small heathens and converting them into civilized critical thinking feminist young ladies...toss a Mom a bone.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Do we need to dial up the airconditioning?

Things have hit a maximum 10 on the boredom summer scale here today. I know this because the children have started scavenging the depths of Olivia's closet for things to make a mess of...I mean play with.

This seemed like a good idea at the time, it is 90 degrees outside.

Now, I'm rethinking the whole thing. These mitts don't even match my dress.

So Olivia, Did anyone help you with this little fleece mitts and hat and boots idea in the middle of July?

"Yeah, I'm looking at the culprit. And I'm wondering why SHE isn't the one sporting the mittens, my hands are starting to sweat."

How do I get myself into these things?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summer Concert Series

Starting right after Christmas I pine away for the free summer concert series here in my town and conveniently enough my neighboring town. How gracious of them to schedule on different nights from each other. Technically, I could see a free little concert each and every Tuesday and Wednesday night of the summer if I so chose or could get my act into gear that many days a week. Which I can't, so I don't. This year I vowed to make it to tons of them though, fall is right around the corner and the children will be cooped up driving me to insanity in a few short months. Carpe Diem.

Pack the girls, add a few friends and their kids, tail gate like your kid is the star of Purdue football and toss in some sidewalk chalk...presto, have carload, will travel up the street to summer free concerts.

This week the older girls...meaning the 6 year old set, got jiggy with the sidewalk chalk. Knowing that chalk usually under most circumstances washes off next day at the pool...I mean in a quick shower, I chose to stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes to the perplexing pandemonium.
The new portrait art, as defined by Ava.

Livi...helping herself to a "grown up " chair. That face means feed me cheese.

Chalk noses all around.

And finally, my favorite. Anyone who has ever had a sibling will get this picture. Big sister is goofing around with her cronies and I just don't get it. Chalk on the face, falling all over bourgeois. I think I 'll help myself to the 3rd chocolate chip cookie before my mom notices.