Happy Donkey, Monkey Sunshine, and Butterflies to Chase

When Cal was just starting to talk well, he once asked me in the car to, "Play Happy Donkey, Mom!" I could not decipher what in the world Happy Donkey might mean. Finally I realized it wasn't a game he wanted to play, but a particular song from one of the kid CDs while driving, but I still couldn't understand which one it was. After several guesses, a couple minor tantrums and more insistence on his part, we finally figured out that it was "Humpty Dumpty!" And for the next few months, "Play Happy Donkey" became kind of our family code for playing that particular CD of nursery rhymes and songs, Calvin's favorite for the time being. Henry was maybe one year old at the time, and definitely not talking yet.

We haven't mentioned Happy Donkey for a while now, but somehow, Henry has picked up the phrase as a filler for whenever he wants to say real words but has nothing in particular to say. "Happy donkey, happy donkey," he sings. "Yous a happy donkey," he giggles and points. "Happy DONKEY!!!" he shouts just to hear his own voice. The funny thing about it is that when he first took up the phrase a few days ago, I could not place where I had heard it before or what it originally meant. And I find it exceptional that it has pretty much been out of the family vocab since before Henry was talking, but he somehow remmebered it and it surfaced in his language. Fascinating to me.

The other words that he apparently likes the sound of is a name of a teenage daughter in a family new to our ward (congregation). Both her first name and last name being with "M" and have "S"s in the middle, which apparently thrills Henry, because he was singing softly the other day while playing with his legos and when I went closer to see what the words were, it was Miss M's name, over and over and over. Very adorable.

A couple days ago, I was feeling pretty good about life and parenting and my little boys. Kinda like I was coming out of the fog - we were communicating, they were getting easier to take around to places, I could understand what triggered certain behaviors and overall we were having fun. Some time ago when I felt similarly, the phrase "Monkey Sunshine" came to mind. No idea where it came from, but I felt like it described the mix of chaos and happiness that most days are around here. Today I am not so sure we're in any kind of sunshine (Calvin fell and gouged his gum - almost broke a tooth; I went outside to check if Auntie S had left her cell phone in my car and the boys locked me out of the house...), but things are good. Looking around, there's not much I would change...

I am going to be "busy" until Monday or so, so I wanted to send you on your way with some good links...I read two posts fairly recently that were about the little moments that we hang onto when times get tough. So if you feel like chasing blog butterflies, and haven't noticed Daring Young Mom's Reasons or Pam's (JUST a Mom - one of my new faves!) post last Sunday, they are wonderful reminders of all the things that make life sweet - I call them moments of heaven that help us know earth is worthwhile.

And if you missed this hilariously familiar scenario about earth actually coming to an end, click on over to Rhythmless's place.

If you feel like being a good Samaritan, you could help me figure out why my blog looks just fine in Mozilla and rather craptacular in Explorer (the sidebar is all the way down below the posts and some of the HTML is showing, which is worse than a bra strap hanging out, as far as I'm concerned...) - any ideas how to fix it so it looks good in both browsers? Or do I just need to start singing Mozilla's praises so everyone will switch?

If all this and the other 62 blogs on your Bloglines plus your real lives don't keep you satisfactorily occupied enough for the next five days, I'm mulling over thoughts about bigotry and tolerance, how those ideas fit in with your religious beliefs and/or being an American, and especially teaching children tolerance, courtesy and love for others while maintaining personal standards of conduct. Yes, even at age three that kind of thing comes up. If you've posted about this already or have on opinion on this, tell me about it in the comments. I'd love to know your thoughts and perspectives! We'll talk more later...

Finally, here's a pic my friend (who visited from Estonia last week) took of the boys at the Einstein Statue. It's one of my favorite monuments - made from pennies donated by school children.

Have a fabulous rest of the week and a wonderful autumn weekend.



I'll Take You To A Revue at the End of Them

Somehow, the spring and summer of 2006 seems monumental enough to require a recap of some of the details, particularly since I did experience a bit of a blogging slump (or several).

I've been thinking a lot about my blog as mostly a document of our busy nothings, and while at times I can't come up with a creative way to tell about our day-to-day and often feel that life isn't worth blogging anymore (especially since the death of my camera!), if nothing else comes out of my Code Yellow life, I'd like my boys to have something to look back on and build their memories on, especially since these years, while they are pre-school age, are the days they likely won't remember many details.

So, this post is about throwing out some of the facts of our summer, just to get them out there, and hopefully be able to go forward from here, feeling like I didn't really leave huge chunks out.

Days without Dad at home: 100

Airplane rides: 4

Long car rides (under 2 hours, but long nonetheless): at least 10

Longer car rides (over 8 hours): 2

Bedtime stories read: At least 332

Episodes of Dora watched: maybe 8 (multiplied by 50, divided by the number of times it was Thomas instead)

Scenes of carnage viewed in real-life by my impressionable 3-year-old: 2 (a small plane crashed into a semi-truck down the street from grandma's, and a pile-up on the beltway)

Meals at home: ummm, maybe 60?

Meals brought in to us out of the goodness of other people's hearts: 5

Hours of total freedom (besides "sleep") experienced by Mom: 28

The books I read: (And I must say that every single one is not a book I would have normally picked up...So that's something, isn't it?)

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig
(This and the sequel, The Masque of the Black Tulip, were sent to me by my SIL, who knows I love the Scarlet Pimpernel. It's been so long since I picked up a novel and read for myself, for fun...I was out of practice "suspending my disbelief" and I was slow to get into the style of writing, but it was entertainment and helped me pass some of the insomniac hours, and actually ended up being a pretty good story. Plus, got me reading again!)

Return of the Prodigal, by Henri J.M. Nouwen
(Wonderful book based on scripture and the beautiful painting by Rembrandt. Required some deep thought that I wasn't up to at the time, but overall, the book was meaningful and I would recommend it.)

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka
(I picked this one up just because I love Ukraine and because the first paragraph cracked me up...A little racey but funny and alternately poignant.)

Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic and Sister, by Sophie Kinsella
(True beach reads. Hilarious, kinda grown-up Amelia Bedelia with familiar problems with materialism and money. Funny British humor. I was bummed that I accidentally bought what I thought was book two, but it was really book four, but it's actually quite easy to fill in the blanks. Light read, good for a chuckle.)

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
(I just had to see what the broohaha was all about. Personally, I found it a fascinating work of fiction, a page-turner of fabulous writing and famous art. However, I tried to start Angels and Demons right after because everyone said that it was even better than DaVinci, but I couldn't get into it - too much of the same flavor, I think.)

The Places We Went:

  • The National Zoo (June 3, and once more in July)
  • Glen Echo (June 19)
  • Colorado (end of June, beginning of July)
  • Leesburg Outlet Mall (yes, this is a major outing - you know how a simple trip to Target goes...we did Leesburg a couple times in July)
  • Holden Beach (first two weeks of August)
  • Green Springs Garden Park (just me and Cal - August 19)
  • National Building Museum (August 23)
  • IKEA (July 22, August 30, September 21)
  • Walkersville Railroad (August 26)
  • Reston Zoo (August 31)
  • National Museum of Natural History and the ORKIN Insect Zoo (September 7)
  • National Aquarium (read: National Overpriced Fish Tanks - Cal loved it, but since when does something Smithsonian charge such an admission?! - September 7)
  • Kenilworth Aquatic Park (September 11)
  • B&O Railroad Museum (and the very cool Power Plant B&N in Baltimore's Inner Harbor - September 16)
  • The National Mall (with Helen, visiting from Estonia - September 18)
  • The National Cathedral (with Helen - September 19)
  • Torpedo Factory Art Center (September 20)
  • Chuck E. Cheese's (new nearby! - September 20)
  • Baltimore Aquarium (Now THAT is an aquarium! And 1/3 regular price on Fridays after 5! - September 22)
  • Cunningham Falls (September 23)
  • Gettysburg National Battlefield Park (September 23)
I have pictures to post and a little bit more to tell about a few of these places at some point, so forgive the repeat material when I get myself organized and ambitious enough - there are some funny things about taking little kids around the Metro DC area, believe me. If several people hadn't already written about doing DC with kids, I would. And it would be a hoot.

And that is a brief narration of the days of our summer. Overall, it's been a good one!

Tomorrow, the workaday week begins again and we'll start snuggling into fall.

Next weekend David and I are getting away - just the two of us. Whatever will we do, completing sentences - whole thoughts, even? It's the first time we've ever left the boys overnight...I'm a little nervous, but I'm thinking it's a good thing to do, in order to prevent marital atrophy or a slow and agonizing death by parenting.

Maybe I'll come back Monday a whole new woman. Stay tuned...my blog posts can only go up from here, I'm pretty sure.


Too Much Birthday

You may already know, but that's a title of a Berenstein Bears book about the cubs getting a little out of control spoiled after so many gifts and sweets and privileges on their birthday. I've never read it, but whenever one of the kids starts acting up at a family gathering, my uncle diagnoses it with, "Too much birthday."

I'm not acting terribly spoiled rotten, I don't think, but I have to go back to my birthday for a moment...As far as I'm concerned, it's still the season until September is over.

For one thing, Husband came home the night before. That was wonderful, of course, and I was pretty sure that he hadn't lined anything up birthday-wise for me, so I was just going to be happy to have him. And I was.

But a very funny thing happened: The night before, the boys and I had Chinese food and the fortune in my cookie said, "You have a beautiful cake waiting for you." I thought to myself, I don't think so, unless I bake it for myself. And then after my birthday I blogged on over to Tess's place, and what do you think was waiting for me there? A princess cake. Yep. Pretty awesome, huh?

Add that fortuitous cake to the phenomenal post by my RLF, Rhythmless, and I was feeling pret.ty.spayshul. And quite celebrated. I do blush from all the praise, but in the blogosphere I am not above tooting my own birthday kazoo one more time, you see. It's just one of the nicest things anyone ever did, so it's more about saying thanks than making sure you all know how great she thinks I am. Really.

Auntie S gave me some Audrey clothes - she has the best fashion sense and lots of things I think I am too frumpy to pull off, she chooses for me, says I am so suited for them, and I look and feel great. It's like she sees a whole different me than I see, and it makes me feel like a million bucks. Which is always a very nice thing, right?

My mom has given me cake takers for some of my birthdays - one is a replica, one is vintage, and this year, she gave me one that is a basket - so awesome. I love to bake and take cakes AND I love how my cake takers add a little old fashioned decorative touch to the dining room when they're not in use. Of course I'm having picture issues so I will have to add them later. Anyway, I heart cake takers and now I have three. Happy birthday to me.

And then, my grandma always picks out the most special cards. The one she sent this year made me cry because she and I have a close relationship and I know she misses me a lot. The card said:

You've added to the joy of life
in a million lovely ways.
You've helped me keep my spirit young.
You've brightened all my days.
And if I ever spoiled you,
I don't regret it for a minute.
The world has been a better place
Since the first day you were in it.

Soooo sweet.

And I am spoiled, I know it - all this doesn't even include the nice gift cards and b-day money I got in the mail in the days leading up to my big day.

But I hope I don't act so badly that people start thinking I've had too much birthday. Because I sure like it. Even though I'm 8 times 4 now.

I will feel really sheepish if you all leave more happy wishes, because I just wanted to document how great people were to me (the blog as journal), so if you want to leave a comment, how 'bout you tell me about your most memorable birthday, or one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for you in general. Have a wonderful day!


Fall Into Reading!

My summer reading was very fun but decidedly light-weight (more about that later) so I am thrilled to take up Katrina's Fall Into Reading Challenge.

My life list of books to read is huge (the road to being well-read is paved with good intentions), but I've (finally) chosen a few...Some books I've already read (marked with an *) - for review and/or pure love, some that I should have read in school but never did, and a few that have just been calling my name for some time, plus one or two contemporary must-reads.

Here is what I plan to read between September 23rd and December 21st (or so):

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

I've been meaning to read this ever since the PBS mini-series and "Shake me up, Judy!" I've started it a couple times but haven't been able to continue, so it might be the big challenge. However, I remember Great Expectations being difficult at first, but it is now one of the books I heart the most of all. So we'll see...

The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger
This is my sassy-beach-read read. I liked the movie and every now and then have to take a step into pop culture. Or pop couture, as the case may be. Even though I know I must be the new size 20 or something.

The Enchanted April, Elzabeth Von Armin*
I open this book and feel nineteen, sophomore in college again. My first real taste of quaint English love stories and beautiful views. Tender story. It has been haunting my bookshelf and I just need a little trip to Italy, so I'm going to open it again sometime this fall.

The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
My husband has read this and really loved it. I have only read Lewis' slightly lighter Christian works, like The Screwtape Letters and a brief anthology of quotes, but what he writes always rings so true on many different levels. I'm looking forward to this one.

I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better, Gary and Joy Lundberg*

I read this a year or so ago and remember thinking, "If everyone could internalize and really do what they are describing here - if I could - the world would never be the same!" I need to read it again to review and practice the art of validating and listening - it truly does change everything about how we love and interact with one another.

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

One of the "should have but never" reads. And my personality apparently matches Jane's so of course I need to read it!

Jesus the Christ, James Talmage*
I read this book many years ago in preparation to serve a mission in Ukraine because I wanted to understand the mission of the Savior and teach with clarity and understanding. This book is a phenomenal academic study of the Savior's life and ministry, as well as His Second Coming, by a renowned Bible scholar. I remember how it touched my life and enhanced my study of the Scriptures at that time in my life, and I want to read it again now.

The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder*
I cut my reading teeth on the Little House books. Farmer Boy and The Long Winter were my favorites, so I thought I would pick this one up again to read before the winter begins.

My Antonia, Willa Cather*
Sigh. Simply one of my all-time favorites.

Persuasion, Jane Austen*
This may be substituted by any other Jane Austen book, but it's my top choice right now. I just adore Anne Elliot.

Possession, A.S. Byatt*
This is simply fabulous writing of classical proportions. I finished it a year or two ago and meant to just start it over right away because there is so much depth and interest there...Poetry, historic research, allusions to classical literature...This is an awesome and mind-stretching read. The movie, which doesn't follow the book exactly, but stars Gwyneth Paltrow, is quite good, too.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy*

Another beloved. Historical fiction and romance at it's non-skanky best. And the movie (Jane Seymour) also takes me back to college days.

Washington's Crossing, David Hackett Fischer
A Pulitzer Prize-winning work of History. It's been so long since I've read a good history, and this one looks wonderful. I think it may be the first I delve into, just for the America-loving history major in me.

And just in case I get into a slump with the booklist above, I've prepared a second string of substitutes (always gotta have a Plan B, right?):

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain*
Eighty Years and More, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Follow the River, James Alexander Thom*
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell*
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens*
Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry*
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, Ross King
With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Oats*

Making this list has gotten me all revved up to really do some quality reading this fall! The housework will never get done for sure, now!

Be sure to go on over to Callapidder Days to see the other lists, or to take her up on the challenge and add your list!

Give Me A Minute or Two...

I have been dying to blog for the last few days but have lots of distractions, plus some HTML snaffoos that are getting the better of me. But I promise to be back early next week with more code-yellowishness than you can click a mouse at. Which you can either consider something to look forward to, or a warning.

Also coming next week is my camera...that's definitely a big yahoo, right?


The Sameness in Days

After our trip to Colorado this summer, I posted about angels in the airport. My mother-in-law left this wonderful comment that has stuck with me for the last couple of (tense) months:

What an answer to prayer...Having angels on watch reminded me of an experience I had after several years of turmoil in my life. [We] decided that so called boredom was a blessing. It meant things were running smoothly, no one was ill or had recently died, and our lives were at peace. Since then we have learned to cherish the sameness in days.
This week has been a week of cherishing the sameness in days.

Regrettably, there's something in my emotional hard-wiring that gets nervous when things are "too" happy or "too" safe or "too" peaceful, and I find myself getting restless or anxious, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or even sometimes when the peace has stretched "too" long, and my anxiety has built without "result", I end up feeling depressed and getting really grouchy just to mix things up a bit.

But this week, with David home and the boys feeling well and being pleasant, we are just basking in boredom and it is lovely. I haven't had much to post because we've just been spending time together.

David reads the news online and mutters things like, "The king of Tonga finally died" while the boys play legos at his feet. (He's great for breaking news like that.)

We get excited over birds in the bird feeder on the window and David helps Cal look them up in the bird book so Henry can say, "Hi, chickadee" the next time one lands.

We go grocery shopping or take the kids to the mosh pit at the mall.

I've made dinner at home four nights in a row and we sit around our own table and pray together and eat and talk.

David and I lay in bed at night and rehash our three months away from each other and actually giggle about things, a little like newlyweds.

Mostly we're just together and all is well. I'm re-wiring my hardwiring and teaching myself that the sameness in days truly is a gift, and I'm making myself sit down and simply enjoy the non-drama.


I Remember...

The morning of September 11, 2001 suddenly made all of us more aware of the people we love and the importance of appreciating each other as human beings. As the death toll rose in the weeks and months after, my awareness of the individual cost became even more poignant.

It was in early 2003, however, when I walked into the 9/11 memorial exhibit at the National Museum of American History with my six-week-old son that the 2,996 deaths of that fateful day became more than a statistic, but a very real and personal realization that it was actually 2,996 people multiplied by countless friends, family members, acquaintances. Their families’ loss became unfathomable to me as I looked at my little boy and thought of the parents who had lost children, children who had lost parents, and siblings and friends who had lost a precious part of their life. I realized that the cost wasn’t just 2,996 – it was almost infinite. And there were no words.

I knew no one personally who died that day, but I do know that part of my heart is in the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and another part reaches out to those who have gone on living and remembering after a devastating personal tragedy that they neither invited nor could avoid.

That is why I feel honored to post this small tribute :

Harry Blanding
Blakeslee, PA

He spoke often and lovingly of his wife Debbie and his three small children, whether he was jogging through a park with a friend, attending church, working out, coaching little league, or at the office. His smile touched countless lives, and remains the most remembered symbol of his character, which was marked by happiness, goodness, interest in others, and a zest and energy for life and providing for his family whom he loved so dearly.

For Harry, as well as for the 2,995 other victims, those who love them, and those whom I love and live for, I will never forget.

It's My Birthday...

And I'll blog if I want to.

Today, I'm 16 times 2. Crazy - it feels a lot like sixteen. Except I really am fat now, instead of just thinking I am. But it's for a good cause - those little boys of mine are worth my weight in gold, if I say so myself.

Auntie S bought me this sass-ay new pair of shoes that I wore to church today with one of my favorite black dresses and Husband said I looked fab and it felt like a mucho grande fiesta times two just having him back at church with me.

He gave me a beeYOUtiful silver inlaid bracelet from Molvania and promised a spa day in the next couple weeks while he's at home with the kids. (I like birthdays cuz I can talk about all the stuff I "got" without feeling guilty that I'm not focused on the reason for the season because hey - I am the reason for this season!)

Lots of smiling today - I feel like the County Fair princess who gets to ride on the back of the shpanky convertible waving at everyone along Main Street during the parade. And I didn't even need to Vaseline my teeth to keep the grin alive.

And now for a little birthday memory...

On my seventh birthday, my mom hosted a little get-together for me while (as I realize now) she was about to go into labor. My sister Joeli was born at 1:20 a.m. on September 11th that year. She was the first baby to give me the desire to truly nurture and protect and to make me feel in some small way like a mom. I made up songs for her and rocked her from one end of the house to the other and dropped her on her head once and it made me feel ill. How I loved her from the time she was "my" baby.

She's been an example to me of one who seeks out the lonely and forgotten and becomes their friend, and has always had the perfect balance of humor and seriousness. She has grown into this fabulous woman - beautiful and sweet and talented and funny, and one of the most spiritual and humble and earnest people I know. She has delighted me and lifted me and been one of my "preshies" from the day she came into this world as a birthday present. Happy, happy birthday, to you, too, Roly Poly Joeli Kay - Josephina - Joji Moji - Aunt YoYo - Joeli Green Giant. Hope you have a parade princess day of your own.


Day 100: Is He Here Yet?

The floors, windows, bathrooms and car are done, but not the shirts or the grocery-ing. But he said he just wanted to order pizza tonight when he gets home. And he doesn't go back to work for a bit, so there's time for the shirts.

Yes...I said TONIGHT, when he gets home.

Today we have a Primary (church) party for the kids, a casual birthday get-together for a family friend, and then waiting for the phone call that he has arrived at the airport...

Calvin is giddy - like, uncontrollably giggly at the mention of picking Dad up at the airport, and talking endlessly with this amazing exuberance about giving him the hug to end all hugs and yelling, "I love you, Dad! You're home!" at the top of his lungs. And not being able to wait until they can talk about getting some pet fish.

Henry is taking it all in stride.

Me? Well, the last two weeks have been the roughest of all. Operating on survival mode, really - it's kinda all winding down now, and I am feeling a touch anticlimatic at the moment, but I'm pretty certain I'll be crazy excited by about 3 p.m. or so.

We did it! We did it! We did it! Hurray! (Do the Dora and Boots dance here...)

I promise pictures, maybe a few juicy details, and maybe just a quick backwards glance at what we actually did this summer, once I gain a little perspective and catch up with my honey.

And everyone, thanks for sticking with me this summer. Thanks for the comments and the support and the deeply fudgey brownies...You all made it do-able and laughable and bearable.


Partay at Code Yellow's!

11ish p.m. - finished unslumping myself by completing two memes and blogging around a bit.

12 a.m. - Cal came into the room as I was going to bed to say that he just is not having a good time sleeping tonight. hmm. And that he wants to call Dad.

12:30 a.m. - We finish the phone call to Molvania and snuggle in to sleep.

1 a.m. - Henry comes in to waller, chatter, roll, tickle, chatter, tumble, wrestle with the blankets, his stuffed kitty, and his sleeping brother.

3 a.m. - I take a still-awake Henry back to his own bed with a strict injunction to GO. TO. SLEEP. I go into the bathroom and come out to find him sitting in the middle of my bed with an impish grin on his face when the light from the bathroom door finds him.

So here we are - he's finished taking apart a pad of little sticky notes that he was calling tickets. He kept giving me tickets...I've lost all inclination to sleep (a couple hours of fighting the insomnia and the 2-year-old and I've given up). And now he's asking for "tootpest" for his "tootbus."

But some good has come of it. At 3:56 a.m. I received this excellent test result:

Which Classic Female Literary Character Are you?

You're Jane Eyre of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

So, come on over - Jane'll be cooking pancakes in just a couple more hours!

A Toast: Two Memes

Memes are a sure way to aid in recovery after a dry spell, right? I've been tagged twice in the last few days and decided to buck up and fill in the blanks, not to mention support meme-starters everywhere. (Anyone had any pizza lately?)

#1: Famous in Our Own Lunchtimes
(Jennifer at Snapshot tagged me for this meme created by Catez in New Zealand - you gotta check out her reason for the name of the meme. )

What do you like most about where you live? The region: American History ev.ry.where. Free museums, tons of parks, historic homes. An amazing variety of trees and birds - so beautiful and interesting. And I love the diversity of people - so many fabulous restaurants, religions, ethnic groups...

Is there anything strange about where you live? Just because of the type of work that is in this area (political, techy, and academic) a great majority of the people here are "Type A," high strung, intense, over-achievers. I used to think I was one myself, but have come to realize that that was because I lived in a laid-back small western town, so I was only intense in comparison. People here get a lot done, but there is always a pressure, rush, and tension in the air about work, success, achievement, education, money, social skills. It really is palpable, which is what is strange. It's good in some ways, because it pushes us all along to be better, but it is definitely something to get used to, and takes a lot of practice to tune some of it out, not get stressed with everyone else, and live for one's own values. (How's that for a very analytical and serious answer?)

What is one of your all-time favorite music albums, and why? I don't have one - I have never really been in love with a group necessarily - music is mostly mood to me. I used to make "mix tapes" like crazy when I was in high school and college, changing up the songs based on what I felt or was going through at the time, whatever made me tap my feet or sing along or think of the crush I could never talk to. I have had small eras of ad nauseum listening with my mom's old 45s, as well as Meatloaf, Marc Cohn, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Counting Crows, and Eva Cassidy, all of whom I adore still, but I'm mostly a mix kind of girl.

Did you have a passion for something as a kid that you still have now? (If not - what is one of your passions now?) Reading. Reading. Reading. From the time my 2nd grade teacher read the Little House Books aloud to our class and I got my own set the summer after, I have been a reader. It is my passport to everywhere else. Reading is my teacher, my friend, my escape, my peace, my thrill, my own little world. I love getting into a plot, I love analyzing great thoughts, I love to study the scriptures, I love beach reads and great literary reads...If I could do anything all day long and not worry about time or sleep or food, it would be reading.

What do you like most about having a blog? Having people "hear" me. The chance to articulate and record things that I might not, otherwise. Feeling connected with other moms and knowing it's OK to say it's not bliss all the time. "Meeting" other bloggers who share their thoughts and educate and entertain me.

I tag Tammy, Nettie and Barb for this one. Oh, and Morning Glory.

#2: The Snapshot Meme
(Katrina at Callapidder Days tagged me and Calvin for this meme created by Jennifer in honor of her "baby's" eighth birthday.)

Here's how Cal (age 3 1/2) answered:

1. Something I do well - "Draw."

2. Something I'd like to improve on - "Playing."

3. My favorite food - "Chicken. No, shrimp. Well, I like chicken and shrimp."

4. Three words that best describe me - "I love myself and I do nice things and I do nice thoughts."

5. My happiest moment - "When we went to Grandma's house."

6. The most important thing in my life now - "That I love you."

7. Then to the moms: Were you surprised by any of the answers? I was most surprised by how he answered with little or no prodding from me - I only had to rephrase "something I'd like to improve on" to "something I'd like to do better." How nice it would be if we all had as a goal to play better, huh?

This actually gave me a lot of insight into the little guy. For example, I would not have said he was good at drawing, because he doesn't ever really sit and draw or color necessarily, but he must like to create.

The "I love myself" answer doesn't necessarily match the question of three words, but it just came right out of his mouth, and it did my heart good - oh, if I can just send my kids out into the world loving themselves in the wholesome, confident, child-like way that only a three-year-old can mean it, I will feel like I really accomplished something as their mom.

And did anyone else's heart melt about the most important thing in his life being that he loved me? I know it won't last, but how precious...

Now to tag someone with interesting, hilarious, mysterious or spunky children: Rhythmless, Millie, Gabriela, No Cool Story, and anyone else who wants to - choose your most interesting, hilarious, mysterious or spunky child and do this meme with them. Thanks - you guys are the best.


Just so you know...

I'm still here. Just a little despondent for whatever reason, and more than a little blogstipated.

But not so much so that I can't coin a bloggity term, huh? Can't wait 'til it shows up on Wikipedia. Then I will really know that I have virtually arrived.

So here's where you get to think up clinical names for a blogosphere equivalent to Ex-Lax. Or peddle a little blog fodder to get me going again. Or share your personal experience with blogstipation. Whaddayasay? Hmmm?


The Power of a Tea Towel

I know, I know... "No capes!"


Code Yellow, You Are The Weakest Link

No, really, I'm a total silliot. You should vote me off the island.

Yes, this is a pity party post, but don't feel obligated to leave a pep talk. As Mr. Bennett says, "It will pass soon enough. And probably sooner than it should." (Or something like that - I can't even bring myself to go search P&P for the appropriate quote. But you get the idea.) I've just had about 48 hours of idiocy that I need to give myself credit for.

I went into IKEA day before yesterday and came out two hours later, despondent because both things I went in to get were unavailable or just not right for what I needed them for, only to find that the door of my car was hanging wide open. No - no-one had broken in. No one (meaning me) had shut it. I had clicked the clicker to lock the sucker up, but failed to notice that the back door was still open. Seriously. Shoot me now.

As if the door of the car thing wasn't enough I went downstairs this morning to discover that I had neither locked nor deadbolted the front door before bed. We don't live in a particularly scarey hood or anything, but the thought of it creeped me out. I'm the overactive imagination type when I am at home alone, and I can't phathom how I failed to lock up last night. On a cold, dark, windy night...

Also yesterday only three red shirts helped me out at Target when Calvin left my side while I was filling out the one hour photo envelope for the disposable camera (the other current sob story of my life). In the two envelope-occupied minutes I took, he walked around the display area of the front entrance, lost sight of me, and started calling, "Moooooooom! Where are you?!!!" in a tragically alarmed voice.

And then, despite the fact that I was not far from where he had left me, and was walking toward him, calling back to him, "Cal! I'm right here!" He decided that I was maybe not in the store anymore? And he bolted out the front door, still calling mournfully for me (I was maybe 10 yards away!). That's when the redshirts followed him and he told one of them that I probably was out at the car, and he could go by himself. What?!?!?!?!?! I have never...But I don't think the redshirts believed me. So now I'm not the Code Yellow Mom - I'm the Mom Who Leaves Her Kids And Expects Them To Remember Where The Car Is So That They Can Go Home With Her If They Want A Ride. (I leave the car door open in case they get there before me.)

And of course there was the camel incident, which I have debated whether to leave as is because your imaginations were filling it in better than I can, or to go ahead and tell the rest of the story. The short story is that the little girl had climbed up onto the bench in between Calvin and Henry, then came the camels to maraude our ride. They were chomping their lips and wanted the feed that people were holding out in cups and their hands. And the little girl stuck her finger in the camel's nose up to her middle knuckle.

I instinctively, and almost not realizing that it wasn't Henry's hand, grabbed her hand and pulled it out, saying, "Oh, be careful!" Then I turned to see where her parent(s) were, only to hear her dad say, "It's really OK" in a very put out kind of voice. Turns out he wasn't within arm's reach of his girl (who was leaning over a rail that dropped about six feet below, surrounded by camels, ostriches and random horned African cow-like things) because he was trying to capture the exciting suburban safari shot on camera. And my big mama hand had ruined it. What was I thinking?

Tonight Calvin pulled one huge deed of destruction too many, less than ten minutes after a very clear discussion of a rule. Even the fact that he came up from hiding under the bed wearing goggles cannot make me feel chipper about it. I'm mad at him and I'm mad at myself for being mad, and it all adds up to a crummy, crummy attitude.

I've lived my whole adult life (at least on the days that I realize I'm in my adult life) trying to internalize the Eleanor Roosevelt principle that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. But between my own stupidity, other people's different priorities (photo opp over wee daughter's appendages), and the three-year-old's blatant provocations that seem to highlight my inadequacy, I can't help but give them permission to make me feel inferior, can I?

So to drown my troubles I walked into B&B Works on a whim and discovered they were having a hecka sale. I stocked up on creamy antibacterial hand soap in "Kitchen Lemon" and "Pink Grapefruit" and hunted around for something snifferific for myself. It's tough, since they discontinued plumeria, my once signature scent, and since I know my husband would prefer that I bake an apple pie instead of smell like one.

I happened to find a fabulous deal on "Pomegranate Martini." Truth be told, it makes me smell like a pixie stick, which is humor in itself, because there is nothing pixie or stickish about me. But what really made me smile is the thought of reading these kind of things while I shower:

"Drench yourself with a perfect mix of juicy pomegranate, sweet orange, and ruby red grapefruit. Cheers!"

"Tart and Tangy! Perfectly potent."

"Apply this magnificent cocktail to wet hair or body, work into a frenzied lather and rinse. Or pour two capfuls under warm, running bath water for an indulgent happy hour." (That's got to make someone laugh - thinking of me making a mixed...er, drink.)

"Smooth over skin to moisturize and frangrance. A second round couldn't hurt."


I don't know why this kind of stuff cheers me up, but it does. I think because I imagine someone somewhere saying, "What do you do for a living?" And someone answering, "I'm the bottle-back description writer for B&B Works."

Of course there are some days that I would like to switch jobs with that someone, just to get paid for thinking up puns about mixed drinks that you work into frenzied lathers instead of actually drinking.

Mostly there are just days that I wish I could take a shower long enough to read about a second round and picture myself flirtily ordering a virgin pomegranate martini at some hip bar.

Do they slide martinis down the bar for you to catch, or is that only foamy beer mugs? And would they put an olive in a pomegranate martini?

You see? Mind meanderings don't get any weaker than this.