Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Handmade Advent Calendar

A few observations on creating your own pattern for a handmade Advent Calendar:

1. If you are NOT mathematically inclined you will give yourself a headache.

2. Stars are ridiculously hard to freehand. Why IS that?

3. You will get NOTHING ACCOMPLISHED if you try and cut out your pattern pieces while the Munchkins are downstairs because they will insist on looking over your shoulder, sitting in your lap, ask to help, etc.

5. Bias Tape is not difficult to make, but it is time consuming. Very. Very. Time Consuming.

6. Striped Material gives me a headache if I stare at it too long. Who knew?

7. Detailed diagrams can be done on legal-sized notepads. This doesn't mean they should be done on legal-sized notepads...graph paper is so much better.

8. Polka dots on material still makes me smile. So I feel a little giddy after cutting out all those squares.

9. Accounting for margins & folded-under pocket edges is important! Measure twice, Cut once. Trust me.

10. The satisfaction of seeing piles of neatly stacked, pre-cut material ready for assembly & stitching-up is immense. It will, I imagine, pale in comparison to the satisfaction of having created an advent calendar we can use year after year. It's one of the traditions I remember vividly from my childhood...opening the little doors each day... Ours was a scratch & sniff one if I recall correctly? I've searched endlessly for one just like it but couldn't find one anywhere. This one may be short on smelly, scratchy goodness, but I won't mind hanging it up early or leaving it up a little longer than is strictly necessary.

Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter

I love everything about this.
I love her voice and her nervous excitement and her enthusiasm and the timbre of her voice.

I don't know if I want to kiss her or be her best friend.
I do know she makes me want to write...even if I don't love the timbre of my voice...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Awkward Hop

Monkey: "Mom? Will my feet ever touch the ground?"

Me, puzzled: "Soph, um, your feet are touching the ground right now..."

Monkey: "No, no, no, I mean when I sit on the toilet!"

Me: "Ohhhhh, well, yes, sure, eventually they will."

Monkey: "Oh, good." (sounding very relieved) "Because that's a very awkward hop"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hospital Corners

dear son:

I love that you snuck into my room at some point this afternoon and made my bed.

i know it was you because buzz lightyear is propped up on my pillows.

but who in the world taught you to do hospital corners????? i cannot find the edges of my sheets..

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So many WIPs, So little time...

I has 'em.

You know...I actually thought ahead this year.
I did. Not that it shows...
I've been marching along on gifts for a few weeks now.

I've got Pajamas in the works for all three Munchkins (and myself if I can get them done in time. because how awesomely ridiculous would that be? Matching Stripey Christmas jammies for everyone? yes. please.)

I've got two quilts and one baby blanket in the works.

I've got a slew of baby gifts in the works (three right now...more to come) That need to be finished by December 3rd.

I have three dolls (one for each Munchkin) prepped & ready to stitch together.

I also have the Oliver+S LTTS Puppet Theatre ... well.. the fabric is cut but it isn't stitched just yet.

If you're just picturing piles and piles of fabric scattered about the house, on top of bookshelves and side tables and couch arms and kitchen tables? You'd pretty much be spot on.  We're a hot mess at my house. And Wednesday has been designated as No-one-is-leaving-the-house-until-it's-spotless that should make the children love me I'm sure...

You know what would be awesome?
Three straight days, uninterrupted, to sew.
Can you imagine how much I'd get done with all that time...and an endless supply of coffee?
It would be stellar. Truly.


Friday, November 18, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Days 12 through 18. Oops.

Today is November 18th
There are 6 days until Thanksgiving.
I obviously suck at this.

I'm grateful for so many things...I just wish time to blog was one of them. (Them's the jokes people, take 'em or leave 'em.)

Here's a quick round up of the days I've skipped/missed/forgotten to type up this week.
Bon Appetite!

Day 11 
Today is Friday, November 11th
There are 13 days until Thanksgiving

Today I am grateful for Clorox Bleach products.
I am grateful for plastic trash bags.
I am grateful for stain-resistant carpets.
I am grateful for small, sleeping, feverish Munchkins curled in my lap.
I am grateful for the stuffy nose I've just developed...mostly so I can't smell the puke.

Day 12
Today is Saturday, November 12th.
There are 12 days until ThanksgivingToday I am grateful for do-overs.
I am grateful for old friends who have reappeared on the horizon.
I'm grateful for porches and delivery pizza and the fact that it's finally eggnog season.

Day 13
Today is Sunday, November 13th.
There are 11 days until Thanksgiving
Today I am grateful for my mother...who knowingly entered the 'Sick Zone' to bring us milk...and other assorted essentials when we were all too housebound to go get them.
Because, let's face it. The absolute LAST thing you want to do with pukey kids is pile them all into the car so they can whine and moan and complain of not feeling well at the grocery store (where other people will overhear them and glare at you as if you're a bad parent for infecting the Greater Indianapolis Area)

Day 14
Today is Monday, November 14th.
There are 10 days until Thanksgiving
Today I am grateful for ice cream.
And everything that went with it.

Day 15
Today is Tuesday, November 15th.
There are 9 days until Thanksgiving
Today I am grateful that my place of employment has dedicated a corner of space to a workout facility, because my pants are feeling a bit...snug these days. Which means a return to the daily Lunch Hour Workout. Huzzah.

Day 16
Today is Wednesday, November 16th. 
There are 8 days until Thanksgiving.
Today I am grateful for The Girls.
Stephanie, your strength and your smile and your sense of acceptance inspires me.
Karrie, your loyalty and dedication to others humbles me.
Jill, your ability to love openly and without reserve encourages me.
I do not know what I would do without you guys.
I would not be the person I am today without your presence in my lives these past 28 years (Yes, for those of you playing along that would be preschool). I love you guys.

Day 17
Today is Thursday, November 17th.
There are 7 days until Thanksgiving.
Today I am grateful for the amazing support network of educators and caregivers in the lives of The Munchkins. I am able to go about my day, confident and secure that the people my children spend the bulk of their day with are loving, caring, intelligent people. They are, in effect, a second (or third? or fourth? I've lost count) family. I trust these people not just with my life, but with the lives of my children. I trust them with their fragile egos, their giant sponge-like brains, their open hearts, their compassionate souls. And each year I am more and more grateful that they not only maintain them, but feed them. They not only teach numbers and letters, but compassion and dignity.

Day 18Today is Friday, November 18th
There are 6 days until Thanksgiving
T.G.I.F kids. Seriously.
It's been a long week.
Today I am grateful for the frozen pizza we're going to have for dinner and the movies we're going to plop on the floor and watch tonight. Fridays have always been pizza and a movie nights...for as long as I can remember. I let The Munchins eat in the living room and we put on our jammies and bring down blankets and pillows and just veg all evening. This is considerably more fun (in my opinion, anyway) when it's sub-freezing temperatures outside. The thought that I get to put on my ugly sweats as soon as I hit the door tonight is preeeettttty much the only thing getting me through my day today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How do you like them

Prior to the sewing machine being back and fully operational, I got a little bit stir crazy.
And, without the machine, I had to resort to *gasp!* hand-sewing!

To say that The Monkey has been obsessed with play food lately would be a gross understatement.
Santa had brought a ton of felt food from Ikea last Christmas, and it gets used daily. This is not an exaggeration. I cannot recall a day in the last month that I've not had to sit down at some form of tea party or restaurant booth so she could take my order.

So Saturday we were all hunkered down and healing up and watching movies sprawled out on the living room floor when The Monkey pulled out some felt out of my stash (because they like to go through it occasionally and steal bits and pieces for play). I think originally they were going to be placemats for her game, but I immediately had other ideas.

I traced around one of the kids' plastic tumblers for a good size, and made a cookie 'sandwich' with two pieces of felt and some fleece I had on hand.  I used some thick brown embroidery floss to do a  quick blanket stitch around the exterior of the cookies, and smaller threads of the same to do the fork-cross-hatching on the peanut butter cookie and the french knots/chocolate chips on the Chocolate Chip Cookie. The sprinkles on the sugar cookie were dictated by The Biz & The Monkey.  I knocked the first three out in half an hour or so...and The Munchkins are now anxiously awaiting the next installment.
Mr. Man wants a turkey (hah! Tutorial....found!)
The Biz wants breakfast food (Thank you, Erin! I'm all over that bacon & these cinnamon rolls and these blueberry muffins)
And The Monkey, of course, wants more cookies.

MORE felt food links!
Pop Tarts! (hee! hee!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LTTSA - November

Chugging right along on this month's LTTSA.
Determined to finish on time and with this month's actual project...

I've decided on some minor alterations to the designated Puppet Theater Project this month.
Because I have THREE Munchkins, I'm completely certain that ONE opening for the puppet theater simply will not do, so I've altered the design from house to castle (because knights and princesses and Rapunzel have all been big favorites at my house so far this year) with three towers...and three openings for puppets to peek through.

And, because my fabric stash is currently threatening to overflow the small, under-the-stairs cupboard to which I have resigned it (and I've promised myself no new fabric purchases of more than $10 until after the holidays) I'm determined to use only fabric and scraps that I have on hand for this project.

I even have (random, random, random) a spare tension rod to use when putting the puppet theatre between the doorways of bedrooms!

I've started compiling the fabrics and colors in my head and need only get some to-scale measurements done and start cutting and appliqueing everything...

So here's a quick sketch to let you all know I'm at least thinking about the construction, even if I haven't started sewing on it just yet.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mug Rug.

So I finally made one of those darn Mug Rugs all of blogland has been in a dither about lately.

And I've got to admit, it's pretty darn cute.

Apparently blogland knows what it's talking about.  Little Bitties are always cuter somehow; and the smaller size allowed me to play around with a bit of handstitching/quilting.

Of course, that was an abysmal failure. Luckily the sewing machine is fully operational once more, so I breezed through construction of this little...well...basically it's just a small placemat honestly. It's batted & backed like a traditional quilt, so it's built to withstand the hotter-than-the-surface-of-
the-sun temperature of my coffee, and leaves just enough room for a few cookies or a donut...or three... Just sayin'. Sometimes a girl needs a donut or three.

I had the first one of these cranked out in under an hour, and that includes time taken out to full a glass of juice, pour three bowls of cereal, locate Ben Ten's Plumber Helmet and dress FatBaby in her pink pajama onesie.

I'm thinking a couple more of these babies will be great practice for, and perhaps more accurately distraction from, unfortunately, Baby M's quilt.
This quilting thing can be addictive. 
Who knew?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where I Write.

Where I Write...

It is not romantic, where I write.

It is sad and small and pathetic and cramped.

I am squeezed into the spaces between commercial breaks or couch cushions or stop lights. I am shifted into the calms before the temper-tantrum storms.  I am a single mother. I sew while they play and I write while they sleep and I'll sleep when I'm dead. If I can.

My first novel is still in a box in my mother's basement. It was line after incomprehensible line of scribbles and squiggles in neat rows on notebook paper. There were at least six pages, front and back, last time she pulled the worn pages out of storage to show me. She'd smooth the wrinkled sheets and pick at the frayed edges torn from their spirals and smile softly, confiding that she'd always saved them so that she'd be able to pull them out when I was a famous writer some day, so that she'd be able to say she owned my first manuscript. 

And the weight of that is enough to pull me under most days, even now, as my ball point pen scritches on the back of a napkin from the Subway around the corner. I'm 32 minutes into my lunch break, curled up and huddled against the cold stone of the War Memorial that overlooks University Park. I watch people scurry around on their errands abstractly... scritch..scritch... scritch.

I was a student of writing for so long that I'm not sure I know how to be anything else most days; calmly parroting out the ideas of others, constantly looking over my shoulder, patiently waiting to be called out as a fraud.  But there is the pulse inside me that says "write". It drums inside my skull, like holiday music in an Old Navy. It beats screaming tattoos on the backs of my eyeballs when I am hungover of a Sunday from staring too long at the out-of-focus mirrored bottom of the bottle of so much cheap wine. I can feel it thrum through my veins. It leaks out of the cracked and magled cuticles of the fingernails I nibble when I should not...when the words won't come.

There is no worse feeling than your entire body telling you to write and yet holding you back from it all at once. At cross purposes. Again.

I write in notebooks and moleskins and napkin-backs and paper placemats from Italian restaurants embossed with the boot of Italy on it...  I treasure the All-Weather Field Book Mr. Handsome once gifted me. I rub the smooth, treated pages absently and dogear them back and forth, back and forth, nervously worrying over The Munchkins or my bank account or my lack of a five year plan. I think back to the summer I graduated college, all of the friends packing up, moving to big cities, small towns, new zip codes, new jobs writing, editing, doing journalistic things, following photographic pursuits and I burned with jealousy and a small red rage and a balloon of hope all at once on the day I held the pregnancy test from numb fingers, watching my now ex-husband slide down the expanse of the wall outside the bathroom in my tiny-big apartment looking lost. And then I blinked and we were married. Then Parents. Then Parents again. Then Not-parents while I gulped and dry-heaved on the couch, not wanting to be touched, not wanting to wake from the numbness for days. And then, miraculously, Parents again...even though that year's joys will forever be eclipsed by the blur that was Not Enough and Moving Out and I Lied on the Altar and struggling, each day, each morning just to remember to breathe, open your eyes, pick up the baby, feed the baby, feed the children, dress the children, function if not eat; survive if not quite live. 

And this sad little piece echoes so perfectly me right now. Stumbling along, in fits and starts, not sure where it's headed other than forward.  The destination not seeming so important right now as the forward motion it takes to get pointed in the right direction. 

I write in the in-between spaces. In the empty spaces. Trying desperately to fill them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 10.

Today is November 10th.
Today marks 15 days until Thanksgiving.

Today I am Thankful for the growing independence of The Munchkins.

There is a special sort of joy that occurs when you realize that your youngest child is finally old enough to sit and color quietly by herself for long stretches at a time.
It's euphoric, really.

Considering that I can still remember the days when The Monkey wouldn't let a soul but Yours Truly even touch her, makes this moment an even greater success. There were days when I was sure I held that child 22 of the 24 hours of the day. And now, the edges of my memory have blurred just enough that I think on those days fondly...

Because as much as I celebrate the fact that I had an entire 30 minutes to myself this morning to enjoy my coffee and the current trashy novel I was curled up with under the couch-afghan, I'm also realizing that this is the beginning of the end. Soon they'll be rushing out the door...on the way to friends' houses and sports practices and to meet *gasp* boys. I shudder to even think...

So maybe, just maybe, I'm not in such a hurry for them to climb down off my lap and into the world.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 9.

Today is November 9th.
Today marks 16 days until Thanksgiving.

Today I am thankful for this guy right here:

...because he's kind and generous...and funny...and wicked, wicked smart...and a bit of a fish geek...

...because he'll claim to be the least romantic person in the world, but is light years from it when you pay attention to the little things...

...because he indulges me when I tell him he has to dress up in costume...
(Which is actually fairly often. Can you hear me smirking? I'm smirking. Maniacally)

...because he makes a mean breakfast sandwich...

...because he's so often my rock, my point of sanity and my sounding board these days...
...and because two people couldn't possibly be more opposite, and yet rub along so well...

...and because, frankly, it's getting harder and harder to imagine what my life is going to be like when he leaves...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 8.

Today is November 8th.
Today marks 17 days until Thanksgiving.
Today I am Thankful I've got an hour (Actually 45 minutes. eep!) to race over to the polls and exercise my right to vote.
Go! Now! Hurry!
It's more important than Jersey Shore. Promise.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 7.

Today is November 7th.
Today marks 18 days until Thanksgiving.

I know. I skipped a few days in there...
They're actually at home, scribbled on napkins and the backs of watercolor pages (don't tell The Monkey) They'll get worked back in here in a day or so. I just don't have interwebs at home. My bad.

But today? Today I am Thankful for growing up in Faith.

Notice I said Faith. Not necessarily the Catholic Church.
Which, let's be honest here, I AM Thankful I was able to grow up in the Catholic Church. It's so much a part of who I am. But Faith is both a part of that...and something greater than the sum of it all at the same time.

Every Sunday morning, for as far back as I can remember, we woke up and poured our sleepy selves into dress clothes (no jeans!) and went to early mass. It was just a part of the schedule. It was what we did. I attended both a Catholic grade school and a Catholic high school and I owe much of my sense of self to those two institutions. I feel most at home, honest, when I am perched on a wooden pew, surrounded by the buzz of pre-mass greetings and catching up; the trail of incense wending its way through the crowd. I feel alive in my own skin when I reach across the empty space between people to clasp someone else's hand in mine for the Our Father. I feel a sense of warmth and comfort when I stop mid-hymn to listen to the scattered voices echoing across vaulted ceilings and hard tiled floors to become, if only for just a short time, one voice each Sunday.

But Faith is more than all those things as well.

Faith involves practicing what is preached.

Growing up, It involved celebrating our beliefs at home and at school, not just on Sundays between the hours of 8:30 and 10:00.  It seeped into every aspect of our lives. And it's this continual reinforcement of the understanding that there is something greater than ourselves stringing us all together that I am Thankful for. It's the lesson that was reinforced by my parents and my teachers and everyone my young, awkward self came into contact with that helped me to understand that my religion is not something I visit on Sundays and major holidays, it's something I live. It's not church. It's Faith.

And I've let that slip a bit with The Munchkins.  And I was ashamed of that and a bit adrift over how to fix it for a long time now. And, so, as hard as it was last week to suck it up and contact Holy Cross (which, granted, we've been attending for a few months now, anonymously.) I did it.  I joined the Parish. I signed The Biz up for First Holy Communion Classes. I paid my dues and signed The Monkey up for her baptismal classes.  Faith is about family. It's about that bigger connection. It's about celebrating your beliefs in every aspect of your life. And, while we'd been doing that at home, we had yet to find a new parish family for ourselves after being a bit adrift the past few years.  And I think we've finally come home.

And I've found it's self-renewing...that faith. It builds and builds when you feed it.
After church each Sunday The Munchkins have questions. And I find myself racking my Catechism to answer some of them. I lament the fact that they are not  attending a Catholic grade school almost daily. But, as it's not an option right now, I try and compensate in as many ways as I know how.

I'm excited to work on an Advent calendar with them...
I'm excited to find a new Advent wreath and light it nightly and weekly...
I'm excited about my Faith again.
And that's the funny thing about Faith...and one of the reasons I'm so grateful for it.
It was always there for me, even when I lost sight of it for great swaths of time. And it's that sense of Faith that I so desperately want to pass on to The Munchkins, no, that I will pass on to them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 6.

Today is November 6th.
Today marks 19 days until Thanksgiving.

Today, I am thankful for these ladies right here:

It's awfully easy to get wrapped up in your own day-to-day and forget that there are other people out there doing the exact same thing.

I do not exaggerate when I say that more of my friends than I can shake a stick at have had new babies in the past year. And I'm not even really sure what that means other than there are a LOT of babies going around.

And sometimes, the best cure for feeling overwhelmed in your own skin, is to get out and connect with the other ladies going through exactly what you're living. Every day.

Life can, simply put, be more than we can handle sometimes.
And it's easier when we can commiserate with each other. When we can confirm that, yes, our kid was up four times last night too. When we can lie, smilingly to each other and say that no one's sleep-deprived, under-eye bags are noticeable. When we can one-up each other with poopsplosion stories until we're all laughing maniacally.

Thank you ladies.
Thank you for letting me hold all your babies.
Thank you for reminding me that no one gets a good night's rest any more.
Thank you for letting your kids help my kids get so worn out they passed right out on the car ride home.
Thank you for being there.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 4

Today is November 4th.
Today marks 21 days until Thanksgiving.

Today I am grateful for the strength to make the big decisions...
The little decisions, those are the killers.

I get menu anxiety. 
I'm pretty sure my sister coined the phrase, back when we were little kids and she would freeze up every time we went to a restaurant. I still have issues choosing what to eat given too many options. See also Fabric, and Thread, and Yarn, and Clothing. 

And you'd think that my complete inability to make the little decisions in every day life (Cottonelle vs. Angel Soft? Pasta vs. Breakfast Dinner? Leftover Pizza for lunch or a Sandwhich?) would render me completely at a loss for the big decisions (what school should the kids attend? At which parish should we make our new home?)

But for some reason, I've been graced with a support network that needles me to make the big decisions in fashion and to stick to my guns. 

Which helps me sleep at night...even when I'm second guessing the clothes I laid out for everyone for the next day...and whether I should have bought the dryer sheets that smelled like lemon instead of spring fresh...and whether I should have defrosted those pork chops instead of that hamburger for Tuesday's dinner...

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 3.

Today is November 3nd.
Today marks 22 days until Thanksgiving.

Today I am grateful for the 5 minutes of quiet I managed to carve out for myself this evening.
It doesn't happen too terribly often.

The Munchkins were cranky when I scooped them up from school today.
They generally are on Thursdays. It's like a second Monday around my house...they're just a little out of synch. And so I try to low-key it on days when they return to my house. I'd planned mac & cheese with smoked sausages cut up in them (and on the side for The Biz...never mixed in...not for her) and a movie night complete with floorbeds in the living room.


But, of course, nothing went according to plan.
Which is the norm here. So we rolled with it.
Somewhere along the way from School to daycare to the grocery for a gallon of milk and a couple rolls of toilet paper and home, The Munchkins went from grouchy and out-of-sorts to Full.On.Meltdown.

It was not pretty.

I was hanging on by a thread.

So when we hit the front door and there were literally kidlets littering the front floor...lying on their backs and crying from exhaustion, I nearly lost it.
I cow-pusher shoveled everyone up the stairs en masse. I gave everyone three pieces of Halloween Candy and a book from the upper bookcase, lined them up in the upstairs hallway and we had "The Talk".

Look, gang, Mommy's TIRED.
You're TIRED.
We're all CRANKY.
I get it.
Would bubble baths help? (three nods. Bubble Baths are a big favorite in our house)
Okay. So, if you can all be quiet for 5 minutes while I put the noodles on and go to the bathroom? We'll start the whole evening over, okay? (three more solemn nods.)

And so we did.
And it was the quietest, most peaceful 5 minutes of my entire evening.
Owing, probably to the candy, but I'm hoping everyone just happily overlooks that parenting gaffe.  We had bubble baths times three, and noodles for dinner, and then I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 while The Munchkins very very quietly watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

So I'm thankful for the five minutes...

When you take into consideration that your kids' emotions ride the train to crazy every five minutes or so...and that  they can start out having a meltdown, fight amongst themselves, and still end up laughing and playing together all
within the space of half an hour or either hop on board with crazy or let it drive you nuts.

Sometimes that five minutes is all you need.
Just five minutes
To hit reset.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 2.

Today is November 2nd.
Today marks 23 days until Thanksgiving.

Today I am grateful for the impulsive nature of friends. 

I have found, over the years, that people are more the sum of their friendships than anything else. I have a tendency, believe it or not, to hunker down with a good book or movie when I find five minutes to myself. My first thought is not, in fact, to pick up the phone and see who will help me escape myself, even when perhaps it should be.

There are nights that, once The Munchkins are tucked safely away under covers, nightlights on, soft snores wafting down the hallways; I so crave adult contact that I very nearly ache with it.  And you'd think I'd get some of that at the 8-5 I pull five days a week, but that, honestly, is more computer interaction than anything and significantly less...fulfilling than one might think.

So six nights a week I curl up on the couch, tuck my toes under a blanket and pull up a good book, or my sewing machine; wishing I could be out of the house. But on that seventh night? The one when I could be out? I get anxious. I get nervous. I rent Redbox movies and buy TV dinners. FreedomFAIL, no?

And so it is, with great delight, that I find myself surrounded with enough people who pull me out against my better judgement on these days. I blink and find myself in smoky bars or art galleries or Tapas restaurants or local breweries without knowing quite how it happened. I find myself laughing until my cheekbones sting with it. I find myself surrounded.

I am grateful for the last minute phone calls. I am grateful for the mid-week emails. I am grateful for the plotters and planners and movers and shakers that let me tagalong for sanity's sake.

I am grateful for the impulsive nature of my friends.
I'm not sure where I'd be without them.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Culture of Gratitude. Day 1.

Today is November 1st.
Today marks 24 days until Thanksgiving.
Today I'll share one thing I'm grateful for...
You should too, it's rather empowering. Watch.

Today I am grateful for MomGuilt.
No, really, I am.

On nights like tonight, where The Monkey whined for three hours straight through, stopping only twice to breathe...

On nights like tonight where Mr. Man quite literally laid down on the kitchen floor and mulishly refused to do his homework...

On nights like tonight when The Biz was trying desperately to fill the 'good child' void and overcompensating to a frustrating degree...

On nights when I lose my temper so badly I have to lock mySELF in the bathroom for a timeout left I end up on the 11 o'clock news in my bathrobe and monkey slippers... On nights when I have tucked everyone in, snapped my goodnights too quickly, stormed down the steps too harshly, plopped myself on the couch too happily, and felt the ooze of MomGuilt seept in around the cracks and settle around my bones...

I am still grateful.

I am grateful for each whiny, needy, annoyingly wonderful amazing Munchkin in my life. Even when I am wracked with guilt over the duties, trials and tribulation that the moniker bestows, being a Mom is still the best thing I have ever done. They are the best thing I've ever done.

I am grateful for MomGuilt.
It reminds me, simply, that I am a Mom.

Halloween Recap

Halloween 2011 ~ It was the year of the all-handmade costumes.
 We had a Dracula, a fox, and a Little Red Riding Hood.

They were insanely short on patience...ready to get out and knocking on doors.
And we don't even get home from the work-school-school round of pickups until 6pm!
Thankfully, Nani & Pops swung by to see the kids costumes, take a few pictures, and drop off a Papa Murphy's pizza! So, after their dutiful four bites of pizza and a glass of milk, I cleared them all for Trick-or-Treating.

Now for some reason, my kids love the idea of passing out candy.
They enjoy the door-to-door aspect of begging for treats too, don't get me wrong, but they have taken great delight in past years in hanging out on the front porch, wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate or warm cider, taking turns handing out treats to later trick-or-treaters.

So upon exiting the townhouse this year, we lit the pumpkins and the porch light, but pointedly did not put out a full bowl of candy, hoping to come home to some stragglers in need of end of the night handfuls.

Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for both the kids and our family dentist I suppose) we did not return to the house this year until a full TWO HOURS later. That's two full hours of trudging around the neighborhood, scolding Mr. Man for dashing across streets, holding The Monkey's hand as we neared the overly-decorated porches, re-adjusting The Biz's basket and hood...

Their haul was unbelievable. And I let them keep going mostly because I didn't hear a single. darn. complaint. Not one little whine! until about 10 minutes before I called it quits. Were they giddy? Yes. Were they...overly...enthusiastic? Yes. Were they perfect angels? No. But they so far exceeded my behavioral expectations for the evening I couldn't have been prouder. I heard crisp, clear "Twick or Tweet!"s. I heard immediate choruses of "Thaaaaaank Yoooouuuu" after each stop. I was so proud.

And, of course, as soon as we got home, it was a flurry of upended bags and marking off boundaries of piles with lines of tootsie rolls; and a masterfully OCD-ish display of candy sorting.

They come by it honestly, though. I did it as a kid too. There's something so satisfying about seeing it all arranged neatly. The Reeses with the Reeses. The Twizzlers with the Twizzlers. The Whoppers with the Whoppers with the Whoppers with the Whoopers (there were a LOT of Whoppers this year. Someone must have had them on sale.)

Aren't the bags fantastic? They were all handmade for the kids by my sister-in-law's mom. They were the perfect size for this year's bounty. Those little 99 cent pumpkins just wouldn't have cut it this year!

Every time I came close enough to snap a picture of the piles, the kids hovered relentlessly over their loot, like I was going to steal some. Silly Munchkins, they haven't figured out that I steal from them nightly after I tuck them in?

worst. candy. ever. *shudder*
All in all, it was a highly highly successful holiday.

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