Friday, January 29, 2010

B to the A to the NGS


Today my little boy had a meltdown because we couldn't get a goldfish on the way home from school.
The Post Office lost my package, and now I owe a woman in Brazil $231.00
I'm about to be homeless
and I just ate an almost-full bag of Sour Cream and Cheddar flavored Baked Ruffles, by myself.
ever since my appearance on Extreme Makeover: Bangs Edition,
I find that none of those things really matter anymore. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To You, To You, To You, Olé!

Happy Birthday, sweet sister o' mine. Digging through old photos of us this morning....there were too many from which to choose. The both of us in fur and oxfords posing by the tree in the front yard; feeding pelicans on spring break in terry-cloth shortalls; and sitting in a covered wagon with our swimsuits on, fresh from the pool and hair plastered to our foreheads. I'd like to point out that in that last photo, I am fully committed to the artistic direction of the shot, my arms raised to hold invisible reins. For the invisible team of invisible Clydesdales. You, on the other hand, have your arms at your sides, and at second glance, your hair isn't nearly as humiliating. Someone had the decency to provide you with ponytails, whereas I was given the kind of 'do that inspires gender confusion. Why, mom-why?
I chose this shot because in it, we are both at our most awkward. I had just entered the phase of my life I'll call Home Perm, while you were struggling with giraffe-legs and dental issues not yet amended by orthodontics.  You'll notice how my chin and your waist are nearly parallel; but don't be fooled-the height of my hair spans the distance to your shoulders quite easily.
I love you so much. Thank you for enduring me then, and now. Thank you for wanting me near you, and for loving me even though I'm not. Thank you for bringing me things when I forgot them, and for curling my bangs into a waterfall. I wish you a day during which you are showered with delights, a night during which you sleep to your hearts' content, and a year full of treasures unimaginable.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't you wish it were this simple?

Also of note, on the flip-side of this page are some words about "goals", which include, adorably:
"Work on my fencing", along with a drawing of a stick figure waving a sword in the direction of what appears to be his younger stick-sister.
If you don't think mailing an angel-food is your thing, here are some other ideas:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh, shoot-my BLOG!

Isn't it strange how the new year discombobulates everything-how somewhere in the transition from gift-wrapping to going back to school, you lose your owner's manual? Important line items from the family calendar go unnoticed, apps disappear from your i-phone, you discontinue your flossing membership, and night in late January, you wake up in a cold sweat, remembering...YOUR BLOG! Is it just me, or does Christmas feel like forever ago and yesterday all at once?  And what have I been doing since then? I'm pretty sure I didn't make any resolutions, but...I've must have been up to something. Now, for my over-achieving readers, those who own Tupperware designed for storing wreaths, y'all can go ahead and stop reading now-because the remainder of this post may cause you to break out in hives. But then again, it's Monday-you're not reading blogs!  You're on treadmills with built-in crockpots,  returning phone calls in alphabetical order.
Yesterday, after the children had been bedded down for the evening with more stories than really necessary, along with lullabies sung from the stairwell, and two goodnight gummy huevos rancheros saved from the stocking loot pile, I sat down with my sweet husband and said that people, since the beginning of circus-kind, have referenced balls in the air as a way to express their industry, or zeal, as in, "Man, I gotalotta balls in the air right now", after which everyone usually nods conspiratorially. Except for me. You see, I come from a line of jugglers. And by line, I mean my father can juggle to beat the band, and he used to, on occasion, drive a clown car. He also had an awesome Afro wig that I liked to wear with my grass skirt and kukui nut necklace, but that's another story. My point is, I can't juggle. And I have tried. Once, in college, while enrolled in a Kinesiology course,  I completed a project on juggling, specifically juggling practice and its psychological relationship to performance in the sport. I had an ENTIRE semester's worth of time and microfiche to develop a teaching method, practice schedule, and, ideally, a knock-out juggling routine. Well, forget flash, or ball cascade-I never made it to the exchange. Stuck on "throw and catch", I was. With two balls. I'm sure they have a name for this kind of temperament, and yes, that's helpful, but for purposes of one-upping all those busy jugglers who've so deftly managed to keep their globes in the air, allow me to wallow, if only for a moment. My balls are on the ground, at my feet. I tossed them and they fell--no, I dropped them, or didn't see them coming, and, then, out of nowhere,while I was wondering what to do about all the balls, I think some more fell from the sky. And now I'm in a ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese, and I'm 32 years old and I don't have enough tickets for even the smallest of kazoos. Shoot.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Christmas Recap: the Finale

I think I may have mentioned that our holidays were indeed delightful-and it's been a few weeks since I looked at these shots-but I ask you-
did your Christmas morning include a Cleopatra headdress? If not, you'll have to try for better behavior next year. Santa's already started his list, you know.

On the giving front, my favorite present was this blogosphere-themed gift for my sister-one of three packages paying tribute to all that's beautiful on the web. Inside the NieNie-themed box, a sweet email and gift certificate for custom silhouettes made by the lovely Stephanie Nielson.

Presents by the fire + mismatched jammies =comfort and joy.

The Yankee Swap: my mother-in-law purges her unwanted housewares and we all draw numbers to compete for the best loot. I was in possession of each of the following at various points in the evening: Double-decker cookie plate, Snuggie, book on art history, and finally, a collapsible lollipop tree, lollipops included.

Doubling down on shades for the ride home. Family tradition: everyone in the car gets a circus peanut each time we cross a state line. The back end of this trip was very peanut-heavy. Also in abundance? Super-cheap organic groceries from Ben Beiler's, an Amish scratch-and-dent supermarket with prices so low we couldn't resist ditching I-81 for the side trip. Besides ten-cent Annie's Mac and Cheese, bonuses include real horse-and-buggies and the occasional peacock sighting.

How we keep the love alive: get a flat tire, and while waiting to have it repaired, snag some free coffee from the bank. Then, mosey on over to the feed store and impulse-buy some new boots. All-kidding aside, this is HOT. My husband, buying off-the-rack, water-proof footwear for me at RETAIL.
Oh-and yes, I do realize some elbow-length gloves would have been appropriate here.

Not pictured: singing Silent Night by candlelight, Jeni's ice cream tied to the roof rack,  the $25 teething toy my mom and dad got suckered into buying for my nephew that is, apparently, worth every penny, and several rounds of grown-up brothers wrestling the very breath from one another.
The End.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just like the ones I used to know

There was a foretaste, as we drove up I-75 through the mountains of Tennessee, branches so laden with snow and ice and beauty that I had to wake up my snoozing husband to show him the Narnia all around us. Jubilation-if even for a dozen miles. Who would have known I'd be treated, days later, to more of what makes Christmas merry and bright? For years I've watched as the skies saved the best stuff for when I'm stuck in the parents calling to report the frozen creek behind the house, snuggled up in recliners while the weatherman commands they stay put and I contemplate the yellowed grass of Zone 7, dithering between green spray paint and white. In their Ohio kitchen I'd mope: Why doesn't it snow on Christmas anymore? My father's knee-jerk reaction to any weather inquiry is, of course, the radar, a TV channel airing a computer-generated map, over which various colorful blobs hover in time to narration by a she-robot with a degree in aeronautics. Despite more than sufficient exposure, I'd never grown savvy to the android's brand of forecasting, however, this holiday some wisdom was imparted: revelation in a large white mass moving east across the plains. When I heard her croak out the words wintry mix, I hopped off my kitchen stool and danced an actual jig. At long last.

 I did endure my share of teasing-for my enthusiasm, for actually saying out loud, "I hope on Christmas Eve, we get the mother of all blizzards, and people make it home from church just in time, thankful to be alive, and then stay inside for days with drifts up to their roof." I realize this is indulgent--invoking a Stage Three Snow Emergency just so I can celebrate the birth of Christ in a Norman Rockwell snowglobe, but still. It's not just about loveliness-the fitting stillness during what should be a time of contemplation and rest, though I do resent the ads they stuff in the paper Christmas Day, the sales flyers instigating yet another trip to the mall, each mega store one-upping the other. Don't we get a break? Can't the machine wait one more day before cranking up again? Shouldn't December 26th be reserved for playing with your new toys, polishing off a couple dozen cookies, and wassailing?  A neck-high dusting of white would take care of that, I think.

a row of bed-headed cousins assess the possibility of sledding at 8 am

In the days leading up to the 25th we enjoyed a generous helping of snow and ice-enough for sledding and snow angels, enough to make us snug and cozy, glad for our lives and the too-many-to-count things we've got to be thankful for. On Christmas, however, as a precursor to the wintry mix, we experienced, of all things, a thaw. I avoided windows. Later in the afternoon, I forced myself to get out, pulling boots on over pajama bottoms and a vest on top of the cardigan I'd slept in. Heading west through town, it occurred to me that mostly, my longing for a white Christmas is rooted in the desire for things to stay the same-for the snow to cover what's changed, for the streets of my childhood to reappear with the weather. When the world's concealed in white, it is, for a little while, the Christmas everyone remembers. Walking back towards home it was suddenly colder, biting-and the blast of warm air I felt upon entering the house was another evidence of blessing-the comfort of home, of familiar-the juxtaposition of hearth and wilderness. Maybe snow reminds me of this-to pause and remember, to be in awe.