Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Papa!

This past weekend we celebrated my father-in-law's 83rd birthday.  Because he is hard of hearing and is rather persnickety in his taste in food,  he doesn't enjoy eating out all that much.  That's too bad for me because I love going out to eat!  This means that most family celebrations are held here at my house with the food cooked by yours truly.  Not that I'm complaining.  Thankfully I enjoy cooking and have some form of "help" most of the time, but, let's just say relaxing it's not. I digress.  My mother-in-law invited us over for dinner to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday.  This is not a common occurrence.  My mother-in-law gets really stressed out when she has people over so an invitation to dinner rarely happens.  She had recently set her kitchen on fire when she tried to put out a grease fire with water which I've since learned is not the proper extinguisher. That might have something to do with her anxiety.   

We arrived at their house to find the table beautifully set complete with white table cloths and tiny silver forks that none of us really know what to do with.  My mother-in-law immediately shooed us all out of the kitchen while my father-in-law served us hors doeuvres and something to drink.  There is nothing that gives my father-in-law more joy than giving.  This usually takes the form of some kind of food.  Once he finds out you like a certain candy bar, etc. you will be receiving truckloads of it the next time you visit! Poor Kristen was served German sausages for years because she mentioned once that she like hot dogs. 

 Dinner of meat, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots and salad was finally ready.  This is his meal of choice that I swear he could eat every single day.  Maybe it's a German thing.  The food was delicious and the kids cleaned their plate which is a high compliment!  They used the tiny forks to eat their salads.  After dinner we had a delicious Publix cake, Haagen Dazs  Ice Cream and champagne even!  As I was helping Mom do the dishes, I overheard him tell her,"Micky, you did good, how do you feel?"  "Good, she said".  Although short and to the point like most of  his comments, It was the sweetest exchange I've ever heard.  They had both worked as a team, were so proud of pulling it off without incident and were sweetly expressing their gratitude to each other.  That dinner was the perfect illustration of a loving marriage to me that has lasted over 54 years.  I have learned much from watching their marriage.  How many pots of mashed potatoes has she lovingly prepared for him?  How many movies has he watched with her which is her favorite pastime?  He refers to her as the "wife of his yout" (some My Cousin Vinny movie reference that they both love) and keeps a childhood picture of her on his desk and talks about how beautiful she still is.  She explains movie plots to him if they can't get closed caption and waits until after he has had a short nap after dinner to start it. 

We thanked them for a lovely evening and told them they can invite us over anytime! They got a new fire extinguisher that is mounted on the wall near the sink, just in case.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Magical Days

It has come to my attention that we added a new family member to our family on Christmas day, Hannah as she was named by my 6 year old daughter.  She is of the American Girl Doll variety, but make no mistake just as real as any other person living in our house.  I debated whether or not she was too young for an authentic American Girl doll as the recommend age stamped in the catalog is 8 yrs. old.  Last Christmas we gave her a "fake" one from Costco to see if she would keep her head and limbs attached, clothed, and somewhat combed.  Except for a little frizziness and a few periods of nakedness, I decided that she was indeed ready for the real thing and I am so glad I did.  The look on her face Christmas morning when she opened up her look alike American Girl doll and bed was worth every penny (and there were many pennies spent!).  Hannah has been her constant companion ever since they made their acquaintance. She puts Hannah's bed right beside her, in her own bed every night as the floor is too far away.  She brings her down to breakfast and for every meal and takes her with us on errands.  One of her chores is unloading the dishwasher and I found her holding Hannah on her hip while unloading with the other, talking to her the whole time.  She informed me that it was time Hannah started learning something so she was going to start teaching her how to read. I'm pretty sure later that day she brought down a sample of her writing for me to admire. She lovingly combs her hair shiny smooth and enjoys her company immensely. 

The world of reality and make believe is wonderfully blurred for her and she lets me know that I am welcome to join her anytime I want.  Sometimes I go with her and find myself giving Hannah a kiss goodnight and a hug or holding her while she puts on her coat!  I must say Hannah is extremely well behaved, mostly seen and not heard.  She is fast becoming one of my favorites too! My daughter is happy to let anyone who is willing into her make believe world. Laura, our oldest is usually a willing participant so is frequently wrangled whenever she is home.  Let me tell you there is nothing more precious to see our oldest daughter who is 25 yrs. old, playing dolls and dress up with her youngest sister.

My daughter isn't the only one who is in love with Hannah, my 7 yr. old son has fallen under her spell as well and would like one of his own. He also enjoys combing and fixing Hannah's hair although it is roughly the same motion as when he peels potatoes.  I had no idea that I would really be counting on the quality construction when I paid the big bucks.  He adores his younger sister and they are only 13 months apart so anything that is important to her is also important to him is the most likely explanation. She pretty much dictates their play, his life and he is perfectly happy with that set up. He let her play with his Legos one afternoon.  Instead of using them to construct something, she had magically transformed them into colorful pasta shapes and was pouring them into bowls.  I am somewhat concerned with my son's interest in dolls as well as wanting to play dress up with her, but I'm trying to play it cool at this point, by cool I mean not taking him to a child psychologist!  His birthday is coming up so should I get him his own doll or the basketball goal? American Girl does not have an American boy, I checked.

Monday, January 17, 2011


According to, the definition of falling is to drop or descend under the force of gravity.  My son is well acquainted with the act of falling, falling at least three or four times a day and in spectacular fashion.  It’s as if his body is not quite able to keep up with his active little mind that is going constantly from the moment his eyes pop open in the morning until he bounces backwards into his bed at night. I have images of him tumbling out of the car in his taekwondo uniform right in front of the glass doors to the building, somersaulting down the hillside at the park where he was previously riding his bike down full bore or catapulting down the hill in his ninja costume on Halloween night.  Sometimes I just hear him falling up the stairs behind me as we are coming into the house.  I’ve grown accustomed to his falling, expecting them almost and do not get alarmed unless there is a significant amount of blood, which amazingly there is not.  In fact, I even admire the way  he is willing to fall over and over at the ice skating rink or in the culdesac on roller blades until he learns how to skate or rollerblade. 
I've learned much about the difference between little boys and little girls, still have much to  learn.  They are an impulsive, transparent breed, acting before thinking most of the time.  I find myself just staring at him after one of his antics and all I can ask is"Why?"  But what has surprised me the most since I came to have a son 3 1/2 years ago is that with every ridiculous, spectacular fall, he would catapult himself full bore right into my heart. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snowed In

Today is a sunny 52 which is a welcome change from the past week where the temperature has not gotten above freezing for a solid week.  I went out for my first outside run this morning since last Sunday, still having to dodge icy patches.  Thank goodness for treadmills is all I've got to say as they do just fine in a pinch.  School was called off on a tortuously daily basis which made it more difficult to prepare mentally to be snowed in with my 3 school aged children.  We had just had a partial week back to school from Christmas Break and were just starting to get back into our regular schedule when boom!  The perfect storm hit, snow followed by freezing rain followed by way below freezing temperatures, making driving impossible.

I made some interesting observations during this week about how people respond to such emergencies.  I managed to get out on day 3 I think. I really can't remember for sure as every day ran together into one long, long, long day.

1) People do not look good on snow days.  I found myself wearing the same green unattractive sweatpants for 3 or 4 days, no make-up, hair, no effort to make myself look presentable.  I guess I figure the people that would be seeing me have seen me in this manner before and love me anyway so why bother.  It wasn't just me though.  On my way to the grocery store, there was a man dressed exactly like Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli, complete with backpack and snarly look on his face.  I was expecting him to pull out his machete if I didn't let him cross the street!

2) Men are different.  I found that they are sent to the grocery stores for provisions and they come armed with a list that they will not compromise. They were usually on the phone describing the various brands,kinds of tomatoes/etc. to their wives for confirmation of their purchase.  They also had any teenagers in tow who were running amuck down the aisles which the dads didn't even seem to notice, amazing! They must have been too engrossed in trying to buy the correct grocery item.  They celebrate victories with gusto.  One enterprising local company opened a drop off sports day for our cooped up boys.  I was maybe the second person to drop off my poor son off who was growing very tired of the indoor scene. As I was leaving the parking lot, I saw a Dad throw up his hands in victory, yelling, "I'm free!"  like he had just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 

3)People resort to who they really are in times of crisis.  The party animal types were organizing pot luck dinners in their neighborhoods, building snowmen, etc.  The more relaxed types, watched lots of movies, read possibly, meditated ( I'm just guessing here as I do not fall into this category) and ate too many snacks. The creative types created things like beautiful berry wreaths. Apparently, I enjoy organizing,cleaning and generally being productive in my natural state.  My closet has never looked better.  I went through boxes of jewelry, even finding gold to sell!  I once and for all bagged up all my extra buttons that come attached to clothing and gave them to my children to sort.  Has anyone ever once actually used one of those buttons or threads?  Please tell me if you have!  I organized the mudroom complete with baskets for each of my children's socks, mittens, etc. I also bagged up my husbands very outdated stone washed denim jeans although he is unaware and by the time he reads this they will be long gone to the goodwill. I also made several pots of 0 points vegetable soup, Italian style trying to lose the couple of pounds gained over the holidays, and even bleached my teeth most days.  I crossed off two hospitality committee items, composing (ok downloading an American Greeting template)and printing the invitations for the Teacher Appreciation luncheon and arranged for the caterer.

4)I need periods of quiet.  I didn't actually realize this until day 6 of the snow crisis.  I was actually quite proud of my children during the week confined to our house.  They played outside the first two days with the neighbor kids(God bless the neighbor kids!), sledding, breaking ice, generally playing.  I threw in some reading, addition flashcards, math problems when they started loitering.  This does wonders for children whose mother finds enjoyment in productivity.  They were extremely creative in finding things to do on their own.  One day they came down all dressed up,made up, haired up and dripping with the costume jewelry that I had found in my closet looking like gypsies.  However, this didn't entirely curtail the  not very interesting observations, "funny jokes", and questions that they each had during our time together.  Sometime on day 6, I realized that I could not hear another one without something very bad happening.  I must have had a worrisome look on my face because next thing I know my husband  volunteered to take the children to my son's basketball game while I went to Costco. So Michael Buble and I went on a lovely outing to Costco.  I took the opportunity to say not one thing to anyone in the store except, "put it on the card please".

Well, as luck would have it, the kids have MLK off tomorrow from school, really!  I feel like Jean Valjean on Les Miserables.  One day more!  I can do this.  I haven't even touched the basement!