Friday, December 31, 2010

The embarrassing truth

While mourning the loss of my beloved camera - I began to contemplate the other awesomely embarrassing things I've done in my day. I know I mentioned the blackberry into the kiddie pool incident, and the driving off with the portable phone on the roof of my car (twice) - but that isn't the end of the list folks - not by a long shot.


Number of times I have fallen off a rolling stool at work: 2.
Once as I scooted towards a patient, into whom I was about to stick a needle. She was certainly confident in my nursing skill after that, right?
Once as I scooted towards my boss who was seated nearby.


Then there was the time I set the oven on fire while making a birthday dinner for beloved Hubs. Here's an important piece of information for all you guys - if you're making oven fries - be sure to use a sheet pan with a lip, otherwise the oil will drip of your fancy edgeless sheet pan and onto the heating element. This causes fire.  Yes, the firemen came.  Happy Birthday.


One time I drove off with a significantly large portion of leftover birthday cake on the roof of my car.


Yes it is true that I attempted to back out of the garage with the tailgate of my wagon open - twice. Finally succeeded in breaking the pneumatic hinge on the second try.  Now I have several helpful reminders to close the tailgate before attempting to leave the garage.

It's awesome to be me.


Then there was the time that I hit myself in the face. With a wrench. At work. Awesome conversation with my boss went like this,
"Hey Melis- Woah, what happened to you?"
"Yeah. I umm. Hit myself. In the face. With a wrench."
Then I had to repeat the whole story to someone in HR so we could fill out an incident report.
"So the injury was ... umm... that you..."
"Hit myself in the face. With a wrench."


Please, make me feel less lame and share your embarrassingly awesome moment. I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


It is most assuredly winter here.

Little piles of wet clothes, jackets, snowy shoes and various winter flotsam are appearing everywhere.

Put 'em in the dryer? Nah.

An obscenely large amount of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate has been consumed. 

Warms yer gizzard.

Oh and we have been rockin' the fleece-lined grey sweatpants ensemble. Cuz nothing is more flattering than sweats with elastic cuffs at the bottom, right?

The grey sweatpants duo.

Since Hubs is home on vacay, we took the boys ice skating again today.  Someone is a little frustrated that he can't skate and "shoot da puck" just yet, but we're working on it.

How to teach something I can't do myself?

Since the ice was fairly empty, I bravely tried on my own skates and gave it a shot. Here I am, for the first time ever. 

Ta - freakin - da!

Unfortunately, right after this photo the wind blew, knocked over my milk crates and I went crashing to the ice. It was all good though, I'm fine and can't wait to lace up again.

The requisite baby-in-a-snowsuit photo.

Finally we ditched the skates and gave the toddler what he really wanted.

"Da stick and da puck!"

I'm really, really not much of a winter person, but I want my boys to love the snow so I am (slowly) learning to love it too.  Now, if you'll excuse me I need to go massage my butt. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A little bit of awesome.

It's official. My beloved camera is toast. I suppose, I never really thought it had a chance since I dropped it into a glass of water, but alas - it has been thoroughly dismantled by computer-savvy-neighbor-friend and declared officially deceased. A moment of silence.

Luckily we have Hub's old digital camera to fall back on - it's so lively and quick I've been able to take such awesome photos as these:

The shutter-speed-too-slow photo!

"Sport" mode's too slow. Where's that
"hyperactive toddler" mode?

Not to be outdone is the: out-of-focus-and-oddly-tinted-orange photo!

Blurry, yet festive, no?

And finally there's the: awkwardly-close-up photo!

Yeah, he's eating a plastic bolt. What?

Totally awesome, no?

I'll have you know this is the second beloved electronic device to be dunked in water. Let us not forget the blackberry into the kiddie swimming pool incident last summer.

But, in my defense, those are the only two electronic devices I have ever destroyed. Well, I did drive off with the portable phone on the roof of my car (twice) but it wasn't ME who put it there.

This defense isn't going very well, is it?

Better quit while I'm ahead.

Off to go read the stupid camera manual.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Night and day.

My two children are so different from one another. One is cautious, the other knows-no-fear. One drinks too much milk, the other - not enough. One is a softie, the other is a toughie. One likes to throw, the other - to kick. The list goes on and on.

This fact was beautifully illustrated today when we took their wee selves out into the snow.

"Hey guys, want to get in the sled?" says Hubs.
"No!" emphatically declares the big one.
"Wee!" says the wee one. "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home.

Look at him go!

"Wagon." he declares as he slides to a stop at the bottom of the driveway, unperturbed as the sled rotates around in a circle while Hubs chases after it.

 Wee indeed my tiny friend. Enjoy the ride.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas. A summary.

Oh there was SO much goodness over the past few days. Certainly we had our share of tantrums, spills, and dropping-of-one's-digital-camera-into-a-glass-of-water, but for the most part, it was all holly, jolly goodness. Here are some highlights.

A personal favorite - Christmas socks.

Mama feet.

Wee baby feet.

There were smiling faces.


And presents that were a grand-slam.

No caption necessary, right?

There were even a few moments like this where a mama could sit back and relax. 

"Wook, mama. Pli-yers and a hammah"

And you know there was some feasting.

Anyone else get served something so fine they had
 to look it up on Wikipedia?

Be still my heart - there were hand-knits galore. My sister made me a sweater that I can't stop wearing long enough to photograph appropriately

I promise I'll take a better photo.
In the springtime perhaps.

Beloved cousin commissioned these beauties from her boyfriend's grandma! Now that is gift-giving dedication, folks.

Oh hand-knit slippers. Come on.

This gorgeous hat came from Etsy (a post worshiping all the Etsy goodness this year is coming asap, I promise).

Baby viking!

That's enough for today, I think. There are cookies to eat and snow to shovel around here.

I hope your holiday was joyful and triumphant.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Eve

It's official. Foil wrapped packages made their way from my freezer to the fridge, where they sat merrily all night thawing into doughy-cookie goodness.

The morning of the-great-baking, I was perusing a magazine when I came upon this page:

"Want to impress? Of course you do! Spice up caramels
and marshmallows, spike your sugarplums..." 

I had been enjoying the cookie and candy recipes, but this comment stopped me cold. "Want to impress? Of course you do!" Actually, no. I don't. I want to have fun this Christmas, laugh and love my family and friends. I want to give them gifts and cookies because I love them, not because I want to impress anyone.

Gingersnaps. My grandfather's favorite.
Rolled in sugar - not ego.

Usually my cookie making includes blaring Christmas music and a festive beverage, but this year I put the kids down for nap and got to work - without music or even tea.  I needed some silent time during this period of crazy hustle and bustle. I love working quietly by myself and I sometimes wonder if I missed my calling as a nun. Stop laughing, Liz.  I realized when I started taking pictures that I hadn't even turned the lights on, and I didn't want to.

I mean, really? Come on. These are perfection.

As I worked and watched some lovely light snow fall and coat the ground, but thankfully not the roads, a much needed quieting began in my overloaded mind. 

One time I was watching The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network make cookies and she weighed each ball on a food scale to make sure each one was exactly the same.

Come on, Ina.  Live a little.  

There's so much pressure. Perfect cookies. Gifts and parties that impress.  Nah, not for me. Not this year or ever again. Not for my kids. That's not what this season is about, and that's what I want to teach them.  It's about giving and loving, about miracles and belief.

I get sucked into that trap sometimes - of checking names off lists, of doing, doing, doing this time of year - but I'm going to try to rein it in.  I want traditions that our nourishing for the little souls I get to care for, that are meaningful and fun.

Thank you for tolerating all this cookie-nonsense this month. I promise, no more talk of cookies for awhile.

Thank you for coming here to read and for all the comments, both here and on facebook - I can't tell you what they mean to me. Each one is a gift.

Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reading: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and oh I absolutely love, love, loved it. The Help is set in the early 1960's and describes the complex relationships between white families and the black women they employ, early in the civil rights movement.

First of all, I love how this book is written from several character's perspectives. It's similar to The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I find it really enriches these characters to see them from the point of view of several other characters. These women seem positively alive to me.  

I certainly felt ashamed as I read this book. It's shameful to know that vicious racism was mainstream in America's not-so-distant past, and is still (dumbfoundingly) present today.  But, in addition to feeling ashamed I also felt uplifted, inspired, and awed. I had my heart broken, pieced back together, and to be a little cliche - I laughed, I cried - it was awesome.

I think there are a few important things I will take away from this book:

This first quote is said by a maid who is remembering a white employer's thank you, almost thirty years later
"Saying thank you, when you really mean it, when you remember what someone done for you... it's so good."
This is so true - there is nothing so valuable as a heartfelt thank you. A thank you that recognizes and honors the recipient. I'm going to start saying a lot more thank yous.

This quote needs no introduction or explanation - it stands powerfully alone
                              "All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries."
I can be kinder. I can be so much kinder. I can be kinder to my children. I can be kinder to people I think are different or separate from me.  Kindness can be powerful and transformative, and yet it is so simple and available every day.

Finally - this last quote is said by a maid, Abilene, and references her employer's daughter, a little white girl that she loves dearly:

"...and that's when I get to wondering, what would happen if I told her she something good, ever day?"

[Every day Abilene tells her,] "You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

What would happen if I told my boys that they are something good, every day? I can do this. What a gift.  To tell them they are good - not just their behavior, but they themselves are good - for no reason other than that's the way they were born. You are kind. You are smart. You are important. Thanks, Abilene.

Go read this book. Yes, you. Get up and run off to the library, book store, amazon - wherever. Don't walk. Run. Go on, now. Giddy-up.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snow and chaos

Today it snowed a little.

The conversation went like this, "Look, honey - snow!"
"No, honey. S-s-s-now"
"Snow." he said, then he turned his back and toddled away. Way to suck the joy out of the moment with an impromptu grammar lesson, mama.

"Can we quit the linguistics and have some fun now?"

Even he-who-hates-changes was psyched.

"It's wike Kwist-mas, Mama."

Then we went to run errands, and by the time we came home the snow was all gone. Drat.

So we came inside for lunch and the boys uncovered my secret stash of cookie tins, and other gift-wrapping paraphernalia. 

Cookie tins make AWESOME drums.

Did ya notice the baby in the background talking into the nutcracker? "Ha-woah?"

How long before he whacks the baby with that, do you think?

About thirty seconds.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Milk. A battle.

So, last week when we went to our beloved pediatrician for the wee one's well baby visit, we discovered that he is ... umm ... well ... wee.

He's a bit, shall we say, underweight. He has fallen from his robust 5th percentile for weight into a range where they don't even provide percentiles, but instead provide advice on feeding and nutrition for babies.

"So," says beloved pediatrician, "did the nurse show you the growth curve?"
"Ahh, no." I say, suddenly realizing that perhaps the wee one isn't as perfectly fine and healthy as I had assumed.
She turns around the chart to show me the graph.
"Oh." I say. And a sinking feeling presents itself in my stomach. Suddenly, my professional self, the registered nurse takes over, and we are discussing his complete refusal to drink milk, and ways to convince him otherwise. A plan is devised, and I am making mental notes and planning to stop at the grocery store on the way home.
"We'll watch it." she says, "Come back in 6 weeks for a weight check and his second dose of the flu vaccine."
My nurse self drives the boat for awhile. Shopping, brainstorming and devising sneaky ways to get some full fat dairy into my baby.  It isn't until I am in bed at night that the mama inside me raises her head and begins to voice her opinions.

I failed him.
I should have known. 
How could I have let it get to this point?
Bad mother.

Since then, we've embarked on a complete full-frontal-dairy-assault for the wee one.

Here's everything I bought:

Two trips to the grocery store.

Well gang, despite my best efforts, it's still not going all that well.
He hates carnation instant breakfast - all three flavors.
He hates drinkable yogurt. Even if I dilute it.
Here's what he did when I gave him some cheerios with milk.

Please note the splatter pattern extends to the computer monitor.

One day, when I adamantly refused to give him a cup with anything other than a milk product in it - he stood in front of the sink, pointing at the faucet, crying and saying "Cuppa!" in the most pitiful fashion. I caved.

We have had one minute success. He will eat graham crackers with some yobaby yogurt for dipping. Not much, mind you, but it's a start.

You just know he made a horrible mess.

For now I am quieting the horrible self-recrimination and judgement with vigilant action. Feeding him has become my obsession, my mission.

Anyone ever has a similar situation? Got any advice?

We'll see where we're at in 6 weeks. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Big boy's big day

Oh Saturday we did a marvelous thing.

And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say, that this mama's small heart grew three sizes that day.

Can you guess?

I have to preface this story by reiterating the fact that the big boy hates anything new. He hates getting dressed. Hates new shoes. Hated the Christmas tree. He still hates the new swim teacher and we're 7 weeks in now. He is "slow to warm" according to all the parenting literature I've read.

But, much to my complete shock - look at this face:

New shoes. A new place. A new activity. And yet, that grin.

Ice skating. He totally understood the concept, "Just wike da Bwoo-ins!"

He sat patiently (grinning) while we tried on skates and helmets.

The first moment.

He laughed and struggled once he hit the ice "Wet go, mama!"

Oh look at this face.


Eventually Hubs encouraged me to release my death grip.

Check me out. Solo.

Something in my heart just cracked.

Who's more thrilled?

It isn't very often in my experience as a parent that we get a grand slam. But this time, Hubs and I, we knocked it right out of the park.

He was so happy. So completely, utterly thrilled.

It was awesome.

What did the wee one think?

Well, he liked it, too.

This ain't so tough.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rum Balls

Dude, with the TSO earlier this week, I have been just over flowing with headbanging-laser-show Christmas spirit.

I knew I had to go big with this week's Christmas cookie - so I'm bringing out the Rum Ball.

It's good. It's oh-so-good. It's so good, it might be bad.

The best part? This is the easiest cookie of them all. You don't even turn on the oven! These cookies are best made a few days in advance, even. They improve with a little tightly-lidded ageing. Rock!

Here we go.

Rum Balls

1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more for rolling)
3 tbs light corn syrup
1/2 cup rum*
2 1/2 cup finely crushed Nilla Wafer cookies (or generic equivalent) (1 box is enough for 2+ batches of cookies)
1 cup walnuts

Grind up your Nilla wafers in the food processor (measure after you grind) I find it takes about 2 food processor bowl-fuls to get 2 1/2 cups Nilla wafer crumbs. Put your crumbs into a large mixing bowl and add in your walnuts.
Get everything else measured out and ready to go - you have to move kind of quickly once the chocolate is melted.
Melt the entire package of chocolate chips in a small sauce pan on the stove top. You know the deal with melting chocolate - start low, go slow, and stir a lot. Go for the double boiler if you like to roll that way.
Once it's melted, turn off the heat and add your sugar, corn syrup and rum. Stir to combine and then pour into the bowl with the cookie crumbs. Stir to combine.
Allow the mix to cool until you can handle it. Roll into golf ball sized balls, then roll in the granulated sugar. Allow to set for 30 minutes to an hour and then roll in sugar again.
Store these in an airtight container for a few days for the utmost deliciousness.
*Utilize any rum you like, also feel free to substitute bourbon.
**For my non-imbibing friends - I think you could substitute a wee bit of your favorite baking extract but I haven't tried it - if anyone tries this please let me know.

Check me out with my artsy photo.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll Christmas

This post may be somewhat garbled, I warn you. I'm a little tired, having only slept for say... I dunno, fifteen minutes?

But, I digress.

Why no sleep, Melissa? Because last night we took my mom to see the...




Oh yeah, you heard me.  The TSO.

My mom loves these guys, you should have seen her - I hadn't seen her this excited since we all went to see Richard Marx circa 1989.

Where'd we see them? Prah-vidence a'course.

The Dunk

Please excuse the quality of these photos - I don't have a fancy camera and we were, umm, a bit in the nosebleeds.

So, how was the show? Well let me tell you - you know there were lasers.

Lots of lasers.

Seriously, there was a somewhat obscene amount of lasers. My eye doctor would have been alarmed.

Fa la la la lasers la la la.

Then in addition to the lasers, there were some rockin' Christmas tunes, played with a lot of running around. I had no idea you could play the violin while literally sprinting back and forth across the stage, climbing stairs and headbanging.

This guy came sprinting out onto this catwalk at such breakneck speed
I thought for a second he might actually fall off.

If you look closely at this next photo you will see three guys on platforms dangling above the stage. They were gyrating so wildly the platforms were swaying all over the place. It was a little scary.

See them hanging there? They were
swinging like pendulums, I swear.

Then violin-guy came charging out onto the catwalk, and I thought the entire crowd on my side of the arena might actually combust with joy. Including my mother, who I nearly had to restrain.

Although he does not appear to have a face in this photo -
I can assure you, he did indeed have a face.

In addition to all the lasers, there was also quite a lot of smoke.

Cough! No worries - I think it was Christmas smoke,
which is entirely non-toxic.

There were also quite a lot of flames - I tried extremely hard to get a picture of the flames shooting up but try as I might, I could not get the timing down and I have forty seven pictures of the second after  the flame.  But you can trust me - there were some serious pyrotechnics.

It was a totally rockin' Christmas show, gang, my ears are still ringing and my retinas do not appear to have been permanently damaged by the lasers. Hooray!