Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My morning challenge

See these little maniacs?  My children. I love them. I love looking at their faces.  I love the way they smell. I love listening to them eat. I love when they slip their little hands into mine. I love hearing their voices talking in the night, to each other, thinking we don't hear them.... 

But I'll tell you what I don't love.  I don't love the way they get ready to leave the house in the morning.  I don't love sitting with them at the table, when my breakfast could have been eaten three times over and they are still sitting there with half-full plates. Coen, with a spoonful of cereal in midair, will remember something else he wanted to say about his dream and put the bite back in the bowl.

Am I hanging on his words, wondering what dreams fill my beloved child's subconscious?

Hell no. I'm thinking, just take a bite already!  EAT!!!  We have to GO soon!!
And when they are pulling on their snow pants, boots, coats, hats, scarves, mittens, and hats... I don't love that.  When Lucy, in all silliness and fun, wants to put her legs through her arm holes and she walks around like a penguin and giggles...  Do I look at her with love and adoration, thinking about how funny she is? I absolutely do not. I am looking at her with annoyance, saying "Lucy...put your coat on right.  We have to go."

Coen and Lucy, taking for-ev-er to get ready to go? Yeah, I don't love that. At all.

But, it seems that to laugh about Lucy's coat antics and listen to Coen's fifth and sixth incantation of his dream last night... Those things usually don't really take all that long to just enjoy before we get going.

So, since you, my dear readers are reading this as I am blogging this, I hereby promise to try on Wednesday morning (tomorrow) when I take the kids to school, to take deep breaths, to get us moving twenty minutes before we really have to leave, and to try and enjoy them, EVEN in the morning.  Since I have heretofore promised such a thing in front of how ever many of you happen to click on my blog post today, I shall be held accountable. And Wednesday's blog will be the account of the morning and how it went when I just settled the eff down and tried to be cheerful.  About getting out the door.


See how I did here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mondays are really not so bad.

I have always been of the mind that Mondays are really not bad.  It's Tuesdays that I don't like.  Tuesdays are NO GOOD. But a day like today, Monday, the first day of the week, especially after a lovely lovely weekend...I'm still just pretty happy.

Friday I picked Lucy up early and pretended for the afternoon that I am a stay-at-home mom. I love pretending that.  I don't think I'd be very good at it, but I love to be home with my kids for an extra day, half day, or a few days beyond weekends.  Lucy and I threw an impromptu play date.  I picked up Lucy and Zef (our neighbor and Lucy's class mate) and when they got in the car, Zef said, "Can my eat lunch at your house?" and Lucy said, "Yeah, can Zef eat lunch at our house?" So we stopped at his place and asked his mom if he could come over.  And then my other neighbor who is home on Fridays came with her two younger kids. And then my other neighbor called and said "Can we come play too?" Of COURSE! 

Saturday, Coen went to play practice while Lucy and I went to hang out with my sister and her kids.  In the afternoon we went to Winter Fest at the Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park.  It was sooooo fun!

The kids ice fished, sledded (twice), had hot cocoa, pie, and baked potatoes, saw sled dogs, played snow soccer, and watched a jug band.  We ran into countless neighbors and school friends and I wore snow pants and therefore never tired of being out doors for the whole three hours we were there.  The event made me feel proud and happy to be part of such a community.  And the day ended with me going out to dinner with friends.

They didn't catch anything, but there was a lot of pretending to have caught things.

Yesterday, we had breakfast with my parents and then we all went to see a Wave game.  It was a work event for me, and I had my girls from my girls support group there.  We got to be on the jumbo tron where I was interviewed about our programs and our girls groups.  I love being on the jumbo tron. I love seeing my girls.  I love work events where my family can be a part of it.  It was love all around.

I know this blog post isn't particularly amusing. It might not even be interesting.  But it was a really good weekend.  And this morning, MONDAY morning, my kids got ready to go without an issue.  Tad and I were pinnacles of patience.  Collaborators of calm. 

I hope your Monday is okay too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sending out the right intentions....

Meditite: One of my favorite Pokemon of Coen's

I was thinking about yesterday's blog post a bit today while I went to do my daily meditation.  (This is an assignment given me by my therapist and it really does help my daily state of mind.)  This morning was one of those hard mornings.  Tad and I were unconnected and easily hurt by each other's words and observations. The kids were slow. We were impatient.  I left without kissing him which happens rarely and leaves me feeling a bit wrong.
I see how hard it is to be a teacher in January. If my son's quick-to-cry, slightly rude, over-the-top mood is any indication of the rest of the student body right now--all cooped up inside and full of energy bouncing around with no place to go--I do not envy anyone who must wrangle and attempt to teach these young people at all....

I went to an open house at Kanyakumari Ayurveda last month and was talking about how stressed and guilty I felt about not being able to do more for my friend Harald...  And the wisest thing that someone said to me that night was that when I feel that stress and worry, THAT is what I'm sending to my friend. Not the love and healing that I really want to be sending....

It got me thinking about how when I feel guilty for being gone from my kids at night for work or for Zumba...when I feel bad for taking a work trip...or going out with friends...   When I am frustrated with Tad's mood and want it to end... When I'm impatient and guilty like that... THAT is what I'm sending. What I want to be sending is this:
joy when I'm off doing my own thing:
trust that Tad can be with the kids and they can be without me...  
patience for moods that are forever going up and down, up and down....
That is the ebb and flow of life.

And I want to have my own life.  When my kids grow up and away from me, which they do more and more each day, I want to have also nurtured myself.  And given myself room to grow and develop and have hobbies and interests and things that give me joy besides parenting.  And then whey they leave me, which they will, I will be uncrushed by my empty nest, but ready to spread my wings.  (Don't get me wrong, I will of course miss my little birdies, but what I want is that missing not to overtake me)  I have to focus on myself and on Tad, and we must grow along with the raising of our children if we want to bring that with us...

So today when I meditated, I pictured Tad and all his stress and deadlines (grades, homework, etc..) and all of it slipping away. And the strangest thing happened, the music that came on was slightly edgy, beautiful and gentle underneath, like him. And then when I was done picturing the stress falling away, the music changed to a rainstorm and I was able to send him love and patience and warmth.

I know I am being extremely gooey today.  My life is all full of strange changes and growing and figuring things out...who's isn't, I suppose.  Here's a cartoon to end this post.  I love it. I wish I could do this:

Have a happy weekend.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Didn't I used to be more fun?

This month has been a busy one with social activities with my friends.  Chicago the first weekend with old friends, New York the second weekend with Peace Corps friends...  And when I was with those friends, I got this overwhelming feeling of...well...myself. 

Just look...

That's me, right? I'm loud and funny and silly and creative.  But sometimes I feel like as a parent, I forget to be those things.  Now I will give myself (and all parents) this.  Parenting is hard. It's work.  It is nothing like being out on your own with old friends at a bar until 1:00 in the morning, obviously...  But there are fun things about parenting, wonderful things about my kids and the more myself I am, the better parenting is in the long run. So why do I forget to just be myself?
I think I get so structured in what needs to get done--get in and make dinner, get jammies on, go to bed... As a working mom, that's all I get.  I get the rush off to work and school in the morning and the few short hours before bedtime.  And weekends.  So on these nights when we're getting pajamas on and Lucy starts putting her legs into the arm holes and laughing, I forget and I get impatient and frustrated. It's time for bed!  But can't I just laugh? It only takes three or for extra minutes and its happier for everyone.
I think the other thing is that I am such a push over at heart that I really do have to work hard and go outside myself to have boundaries for my kids.  To demand politeness and set limits.  And its hard to step back from that to being my fun self again.  When I can do it--go from telling my child to ask for something in a nice way or stop wanging his/her sibling over the head with that stuffed monkey...to tickling a child or chasing them around the house for minor infractions--it feels really good.
I think the other thing is that I am a creative person...but its hard to be creative in the ways I want to be with the rush of work, and dinner preparation, and getting kids ready for school and for bed. I have not painted, sewed, played my guitar, or sang (besides lullabies) in so long...  And the other day when I was playing outside with the kids, I made two really great snowmen. One of them had a mowhawk. And the kids wanted to knock them down and I found myself getting mad.  What is my problem? I wondered. And then I realized, that was my first creative expression in a long time.  I MADE those snowmen.  But in the end, I realized, its all in fun. Art is art whether it stays forever or gets kocked down by little children the moment it is complete.  I let them go nuts knocking them over.  And then, Coen threw a snowball at me.  Thinking I had to get his roughness in check, I scolded him.  And then I stopped. And I thought. And I remembered.  So I made a snowball and pelted him too, stopping to remind him that we can't hit people above the neck and then pelting him again in the middle of the back.  We ended that afternoon in a heap of giggles in the snowy front yard.  Myself.  My kids. Much better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Minivanning in to the 21st Century

Last night, Tad and I were sitting on the couch together--the new (to us) couch that we got from Tad's parents at the end of summer.  Looking at our new television, playing a Nick Drake station on Pandora.  We had just put the kids to bed after having returned from purchasing a new (used) minivan.  Tad looked at me and said, "I feel like I want to melt myself in a pot of newly purchased technological goo."

And how.

We have been on rather a spree lately.   Tad and I have always had mostly used furniture and clothing and household items and automobiles.  It's nice to have a few new things, but also a bit overwhelming.

Nonetheless, we are the new owners of a minivan.  Tad's Subaru, 14 years old and with his family for most of that 14 years has served us very well.  We have taken good care of it and put some money into its maintenance and occasional repair.  This spring, we received notice that the license plate was about to expire and I sent in the $95 dollars.  We got a letter back saying that we were "not in compliance" because we had not tested the emissions and "failure to do so" would result in "immediate action" and on and on. And I said to myself 'Well!'  They didn't give me the emissions reminder which they usually do, do they not?  So I wrote a letter back which was very indignant and I said basically that I was very unhappy about having been reprimanded and that the letter to us was extremely scoldy and I would be happy to be "in compliance" if I knew what I needed to do to be "in compliance".  I would have ended the letter with a humph if I could have, but I did not.  I think I ended it "respectfully yours,".

So then I got a letter back from the DMV and it was very apologetic about the oversight.  They sent my stickers too! And said that I'd still need to go get emissions tested, but they apologized for the tone of their last correspondence.  I was satisfied and took the Subaru to get tested.

It failed.


So I took it to a shop--not our shop--as ours is not a "qualified emissions" place and the shop I took it too charged me $100 just to check it and then gave a quote of $1500 to fix what they could fix before they even told us about the emissions problem.  Well, we were not in any position to spend that kind of money at that point, so we took it to our own guys.  They (for FREE) told us all the problems with it and what we could fix for about $800, but that still wouldn't take care of the emissions problem.  We did nothing.

Shortly thereafter we received another letter from the DMV saying we were now operating our car illegally until the emissions passed.


So we've been driving this Subaru around illegally, the saving grace being that we already had our stickers thanks to my complaint letter, but I was feeling guilty about the environment and terrified every time a police officer was behind us. 

"I can't live like this!" I said to Tad, very dramatically the last time I thought we would be pulled over. And finally we made the decision to trade in our Subaru for  a new car.  Having two children and all the hauling and carpooling that needs to be done, a minivan seemed the best option. 

So here we are. Minivan owners.  And two people who are now pledging to stop spending money on anything at all except perhaps a nice vacation when summertime comes.

This was the only picture I could find of the Subaru.  Here is me and some friends in Madison,
preparing signs for one of the rallies last winter right around this time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Will the nation's tall please stand in back?

Last night Tad and I had a date night and we went to see the Lemonheads play their iconic album "It's a Shame about Ray" from start to finish.  I was very excited.

When I was a freshman in college, I used to walk around campus with that tape on my walkman, Evan Dando singing in my ears.  His voice and the Lemonheads music was sparkly and made everything look cool to me. I would pretend I was in a movie, about me, starring me...and that tape was the soundtrack.  I planned on the show at Turner hall making me feel 19 again.  Instead, it made me feel all of my thirty-six years (maybe even a bit more).

Don't get me wrong. I had fun. It was great to be out with Tad and Even Dando sounded as good as ever.  But anyone who knows me knows that I don't have much of an attention span.  At all.  And this concert with it's three openers (yes, THREE!!  I said to myself...will this ever END?!!) and Evan's two long acoustic sets in between doing the album...it was a long night.  We didn't even make it to the end.  When they finally went off stage for the first time before the encore (or however many they had--why has the encore become a standard with three or four extra sets?  Didn't encores used to happen only when they were crowd demanded?), it was midnight.  And my back was sore from all that standing (oh boy am I not 19 anymore!)  I figured they'd come back out and do Mrs. Robinson and some other happy poppy numbers and we'd all be on our merry ways. But they came out and started really rocking out. 
"Okay" I said to Tad, "We can go. They're getting all testicle-y now!"
"Yeah, you know, all boy-ish, rocking out, getting all hard core about it..."
Tad laughed.  "Okay, let's go." 
So I didn't even make it of for the whole SHOW!  But you know what?  I had a great time. I loved hearing the songs and it's okay with me if I didn't get to hear Mrs. Robinson. 

But there was one thing about the show I was upset by (and this shall be my pettiest blog post up to now and hereafter).  I am a short person, so I don't really have to worry that someone won't be able to see if I stand in front of them. And I understand that at most shows, everyone is standing on the floor and people can't help being taller than me and standing in front of me. I mean who ISN'T taller than me? But anyway, last night I found a spot along the edge of Turner Hall on a step! And I was standing there, so excited that I could actually see.  And I stood there for the whole two hours before the Lemonheads actually came on stage. And then right before the show started, a woman, at least a head taller than me, came and stood DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME! On the step. Directly!  Her boyfriend who was like sixteen feet tall, stood next to her. I was very annoyed.  But I tried to move over a bit to see around her, but then she said something to him, and walked away and then HE STOOD DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME! He was so tall, I was looking at the middle of his back, I am not kidding you.  She must have asked him to save her spot.  Save her spot!  I don't usually get mad about little stuff. I'm generally a fairly laid back person about most things.  People cutting me off in traffic? Doesn't bother me.  Someone skipping in line at a busy store?  No problem.  A server screwing up my order? Doesn't even raise my blood pressure. But do not stand in front of me at a concert if you are tall. I get mad.
I got myself in a position where I was between them. I figured, if they were on a date and wanted to touch each other, maybe that would be more important and they'd get out of my way.  They knew I was there. The man even kept looking down at me.  I held my ground.  Tad was laughing; he said I was being macho.  Finally, when she had walked away, I moved to my original spot before he could save her space again.  And I could see.
Anyway, my title is from a news in brief that I cut out of the Onion. It is hanging at my cubicle at work.  I sure wish concert venues would ask the tall to stand in back.  Or at least hand out step stools to the short people at concert venues to even the score.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pickle fingers

A few weekends ago, Tad and I went to his work holiday party.  We were to bring a white elephant gift worth about $10.  I put together a package of all kinds of goodies: a tin of enlighten-mints, candy, and some novelty items. My favorite item I put in there was a "pickle finger".  What is a pickle finger, you might ask.  Well, it is a plastic pickle-shaped thing that you can put over your finger.  It's fun! It's weird! I love it!

So when my recipient opened her gift and pulled out the pickle finger, everyone was full of laughter and elbowing and double entendre talk.  "I'll KEEP this one!" she said and everyone laughed.  Later when we were talking bout who gave what, I insisted "I hadn't even thought of it that way at all! Honest!"  She gave me a pat on the head.

I was relaying this story to everyone in Harald's room at Pleasant Valley Nursing Home last weekend and they just couldn't get over the fact that such a thing existed. 

Today, six packages will head out from the post office to Argyle, NY; Baltimore, MD; Madison, WI; . San Francisco, CA; and Chicago, IL.  Each will contain a note and a pickle finger.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


First of all, inspired by this picture I chose to illustrate our oversleeping morning, I shall tell you a brief anecdote.  When my sister and I were children (roughly 7 and 10 respectively) she loved My Little Ponies.  I did not. I wanted to pretend we were adventurers and play outside in the mud.  One day, she and I were arguing because she wanted to play ponies and I wanted to be adventurers.  She said "I wish Kathy were my sister because then I would play ponies with her every day!" I stormed off and wrote the following into my Hello Kitty Diary:

Elizabeth wishes Kathy were her sister so she could play ponies more.  Well, I have a plan. Every day, I'm going to knock over one of Elizabeth's My Little Ponies on her shelf.  Today I'm knocking over Sundance. Tomorrow...Applejack.

I knew it would happen even as I went to sleep last night.  The kids and I had a lovely time at their school's craft night, though it ended with me having some parenting troubles.  Coen wasn't listening to me which is extremely rare and I panicked.  Everyone was there, watching me unable to control my eight-year-old.  EEEEK!!!!   And I made an enormous empty threat that parents tend to do when they don't know what else to do.  I told Coen to sit on the bench and wait for me and if he even moved, I was going to take away all his Pokemon cards for the rest of his life.  Pretty steep.  In the parking lot, on the way out of school, Coen spoke up.
"Mommy?  I would like to talk about what happened, but I don't want you to get mad at me again."
"Okay" I said, "We can talk about it."
"Well..."  he ventured. "I think that maybe that wouldn't have been a fair punishment.  I usually listen. That was the first time I didn't listen when you said it was time to go.  Maybe if it was the hundredth time I didn't listen, then that would be a fair punishment."

Tad and I, after finally getting our kids tucked into bed two hours later than usual, talked about how its been since I've gotten home from New York. I've been rather timid as a parent, I think, overshadowed by guilt of being gone so much this month, and also just mental exhaustion from being sad about Harald.  And Tad has been annoyed. And the more annoyed he's gotten with my timidity, the timider I've gotten.  Vicious cycle.  But we had a nice, long, fruitful talk last night.

When I set the alarm, I plugged it  in (it usually runs on batteries) thinking just in case... and fell asleep.  The next thing I knew, Tad was saying, "Alie? I'm getting in the shower. It's seven."
I needed to be to work at 7:30.  I went up to wake the kids after getting coffee on.  They were both extremely asleep.  On usual mornings, they are so slow getting dressed I actually have to practice deep breathing and convincing myself that I won't spend the rest of my life, sitting between their rooms in the hall...waiting.  So when I woke them, I stroked their little faces and said in a gentle voice, "You guys?  We are very late today. We slept too late.  So its going to be a special morning.  We won't eat at the table but you can bring POP TARTS in the car."

They have never gotten dressed so fast and so easily in all my days of parenthood.

I shall have to weight the benefits/disadvantages of having Pop Tarts in the car every day.

Just kidding.

Or am I?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


As you know, Tad and I got a new television.  Since we got the thing, I have watched less actual television than before its arrival.  We use it for movies on Netflix.  But mostly we use it to listen to Pandora.  Oh, how I love Pandora.  If you don't know, it is an online streaming radio website. You can create custom stations based on a band, type of music, or even a song.

So, last night Tad let Coen create a station.  He wanted an "All you need is love" station.  It played the Beatles (of course) and Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones.  We listened while we ate dinner and talked together.  Tad explained to the children the Pandora rating system.  You can click on the thumbs up or the thumbs down icons to let Pandora know how you feel about songs and it tailors the station exactly to your taste.  So with each song, our whole family voted with our thumbs and decided from there whether to keep the song or to thumbs down it.  Coen and Lucy love holding their thumbs out sideways to show that they "kinda like it, kinda don't." We decided that the thumbs sideways indicates a shrug.

After we finished eating, the station had somehow taken an eighties turn.  We had a family dance party to 99 Red Balloons and Come on Eileen The night ended with Goodbye Ruby Tuesday.  We switched dance partners, twirled around, danced holding hands in a circle, and jumped around the living room.  It was a lovely end to the evening, until the children got into the bath.

After their bedtime, Tad sat in front of me while I rubbed his shoulders and we listened to The Lemonheads radio on Pandora.  It was nineties musical heaven and Tad and I laughed and reminisced about college while we heard the La's, Belly, Matthew Sweet, The Gin Blossoms, The Cure, and of course, The Lemonheads.

I made fun of Tad because he was so blissed, getting a shoulder rub that he uncharacteristically clicked thumbs up on Blues Traveller.  I love our new TV. Even if it is just an oversized screen on which to view Pandora options and watch the occasional movie.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A visit to Pleasant Valley

As I flew home from New York yesterday, my head resting against the window, looking down at the carpet of clouds and listening to Patty Griffin, I thought and thought.  I thought about how twelve years ago, I was flying over a similar cloud cover and leaving my 24 year old life in Milwaukee to join the Peace Corps.  And the day I left, I was so full of fear and apprehension and longing to be back in the safety of my Milwaukee apartment and easy job and parties and friends all around.  But I knew that something needed to change and that I needed something...something real to challenge me.  In the Peace Corps I would make friends with people that I will know for the rest of my life. People that are now on the list of those I don't really want to do without. 

I was with many of those people this weekend.  We gathered together from west coast to east and went to see Harald.  You can read about Harald here.

Hannah drove from Chicago to my house and played with my kids and ate dinner with my family.  After the children were tucked into bed Hannah made cookies that she has been sending to Harald and that he loves. I made brownies from scratch which he requested.  Later on Rebecca and Jenny came and we all chatted until bedtime. 

Saturday morning the four of us flew to Albany where we met Steff and rented a red minivan and drove to meet Ryan in Argyle N.Y. at Lant Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast.  We stayed here for the weekend and it was the perfect place for our little group.

The farm was lovely and the breakfasts were all made from delicious home grown foods.  Being together was like a magical kind of therapy, bringing me back to my basest self--the self that is not mother, nor partner, nor defined by what I do or where I work.  I met these people when I was just searching for whatever it was that I wanted my life to be, becoming the self that I am now...  The best part was laughing together. 

Before we went to see Harald, we ordered a pizza for takeout (his request).  I called to place the order and my conversation with the pizza guy went something like this:

Me: Hello. I'd like to place an order for carryout.
Pizza Guy: Okay, what would you like.
Me: I'd like three large pizzas...
Pizza Guy: (Sounding alarmed) Twenty-four cut?
Me: What?
Pizza Guy: You want three twenty-four cut?
Me: Twenty four what?
Pizza Guy: Twenty four cut.
Me: I dont' know what that means
Pizza Guy: The large pizza has twenty-four pieces
Me: Oh!!!!  Well, are they twenty four big triangle pieces or twenty four small rectangle pieces?
Pizza Guy: Rectangle
At this point I look up and everyone is watching me have this conversation, including our B & B hosts.
Me: Okay, we'll do that.
Pizza guy: Are you having a party? Can I come?

Harald is staying in a nursing facility called Pleasant Valley. 

Each of us give him a long hug and he readjusts his bed so he's sitting up.  We talk, in whispers, so it won't hurt his head and we laugh and make jokes and eat pizza together.   Harald takes a bite of one of Hannah's cookies and holds it up.
"These saved me during chemo."
After awhile it appears that Harald has gone to sleep. 
"Should we go?" Steff whispers. 
"I don't know..." I whisper back. 
"I know..." Steff says, "Let's just hang out twenty more minutes and then we'll see if he wakes up again." 
"What if he is still sleeping in twenty minutes?" Rebecca asks. "Well..." Steff says, "then we'll reassess at that point."
We all kind of giggle, quietly.  Then we notice that Harald, who's eyes are still closed, is grinning. "I can hear you." he says. 
We all laugh.

On Sunday, we spend the entire day with Harald.  We talk and laugh quietly and we take turns, in pairs, leaving the room to lessen the population.  That night we return to our B & B and eat leftover pizza (The guy was right, there was enough to feed a large party of people).  We play catch phrase and talk and laugh. And laugh. 

Monday is the day we leave and we all head back to Pleasant Valley. We say goodbye to Harald one by one.  There are lots of tears.  I tell Harald that I will come back in summer to see him again.  We both cry. Harald doesn't want to cry, but I tell him, "Come on! It's okay! I even cry at tampon commercials!"

The trip back is filled with more laughter and joking. 

And on that flight home, I felt so pleased and lucky to have these incredible friends in my life.  And happy that we could all see Harald together.  And I looked at the passengers in the plane, reading their books and listening to music and working on their laptops and I thought about how each person on that plane might be as loved as we all love Harald.  And as we all love the people that we love.  It makes me want to be kinder and more patient with everyone.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's all in the mood

Today was a rough morning.  Because of my attitude, mostly.  But even as I was annoyed, frustrated, and just plain mad...I could still see that a lot of amusing things were happening.

I set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. so I could go shovel the snow (in place of my usual exercises) and I got up at 6:20 and did just that.  The morning started well enough.  The kids got up, ate breakfast, and then went to their usual post under all the couch cushions to hang out until it's time to go.

I told Tad I'd take the kids today and he was in the kitchen getting ready and frustrated because he hadn't packed himself a lunch the night before and Lucy had taken a long time to wake up, so he was basically leaving at the same time he would if he did take the kids, yet he wasn't taking them.  That is annoying. I always dislike it on the days that I actually can leave scott free without any child duties and I end up leaving with them anyway.  It takes away from the pleasure of leaving on your own. 
Then he headed out the back door and saw that the two bags of oranges that I had ready to bring for our week of morning snack had fallen on the floor.  "What's this?"
"Oh, it's oranges for school." 
"I can bring them" Tad offered, picking them up. "This bag is about to break." He started to stuff them in another bag. 
"Forget it." I said. "I'll bring them." 
I have this thing about too many bags. It's totally psychotic, I know, but I just really get irked when too many bags make their way out of the house.  I'm thinking...well now that's just extra bags to put away.  I'm laughing as I type this. It's really ridiculous. But it really bothers me. But hey, that's why I'm in therapy, to figure these kinds of things out.  Bag problems. Baggage. Ha!
So I say, "I'll bring them."
And Tad says, "Why? Do you think I'm incapable of carrying oranges?"
I could start arguing here..  But I don't.  In fact I'm realizing how these arguments happen.  Snowballing commentary.

Speaking of snowballing... So Tad leaves and the kids take about twenty five minutes to get their snow stuff on.  Coen puts his boots on. Realizes. Takes his boots off. Puts his snow pants on.  Starts putting a boot on. Remembers something. Takes it off, and goes upstairs to get a book to bring to school.  Back to the boots.  And it goes on like that. With both of them. I am taking deep breaths, trying not to have a coronary about how long its taking to dress for the outdoors. And the snow.

Once we all get outside and the children make a huge show of getting "stuck" in the snow, we finally get in the car. I've forgotten something. I go back in and get it.  Then Coen announces he's forgotten something. I go back in and get it.  When I get back to the car, Lucy (who was buckled in and sitting is now unbuckled and standing) and has hoisted an object in the air.  "Look what I found!"  It's a McDonald's toy that makes noise.  I was hoping that was gone forever. 
"Did you find it on the ground?" Lucy asks.
"No..." I say.
"YES YOU DID!" Lucy says (loud enough to merit all capitals)
"Okay. Yeah. I found it on the ground."
"Did you think it was a piece of ice?" Lucy asks.
oh boy, I'm thinking...what's the right answer...  "No..."
"Yes you DID!"
"Okay, yes, I thought it was a piece of ice."
"WHY did you think it was a piece of ice?"
Honestly. You see how ridiculous this conversation is? I steer it elsewhere.  Coen and Lucy start singing along to the song this toy is making. It is a song that Tad made up when we got the kids happy meals during a three-hour layover at the Denver Airport a few years ago when I was trying to get everyone to stop saying inappropriate words.  All the way to school, Lucy presses the button over and over and the kids are singing "Inappropriate Denver Airport. Inappropriate Denver Airport. Inappropriate Denver Airport..."
Finally, we are at school. I drop them off grumpily after we clomp up the hill, through the snow, taking another twenty five minutes to traverse a couple hundred yards.  Tad peeks out of his classroom and begins to question my drop off order and our presence in the middle of the parking lot. We have another argumentative exchange. 
After I drop them all off (having gotten it together enough to at least be sweet with Lucy when I leave her), I stop at Tad's classroom and say a proper goodbye. We both apologize for our grumpiness.  I stop at Coen's classroom.  He is happily surprised to see me there and we have a nice, long hug.  I  tell him I'm sorry I was grumpy and that I'll see him after school.

The morning was no different from other mornings in terms of time taken and things going right or going wrong. It was a bad morning because I was in a bad mood.  Here's to trying again tomorrow. 
Oh. Wait.
Tomorrow's Saturday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Things Tad says...

Recently, Coen was asking me questions about fallout. Kids at school were playing War on the playground and talking about fallout. I started to try and explain. Tad interrupted.
"I'll handle the Cold War questions."

I know I have blogged, talked, facebook'ed, and babbled on about how lucky feel to have the partner that I have...  I can't help it.

The thing that is so great to me about being in love with Tad is that I'm also friends with him.  And so the things he says to me can run such a gamut of romantic and sweet to sarcastic and wry...that I'm always interested.

For instance...last night when we were talking about love and our relationship, he came into the bedroom with his toothbrush in his hand.  "Do you know what's wrong with most other people?" He said.
I looked at him...
"They're not you."

Then this morning, it was quite a different scene.  I woke up (as I sometimes do) very unready for the world. I was clumsy and tired and moving with the grace of an ox around the kitchen.  I put waffles in the toaster.  Tad stifled a laugh.
"What!" I demanded
He mimicked the force with which I put the waffles down.  I made my frustrated noise.
My frustrated noise is really annoying.  I can't even begin to try and type with letters what it sounds like. I'm very proud of my frustrated noise.
He laughed.  Then I was in his way when he was tyring to get his breakfast going; I was looking for Tupperware.  Twenty assorted pieces of Tupperware crashed out of the cupboard. (Mostly because I had put them in quickly and haphazardly the day before and then slammed the door shut so they wouldn't fall out.  I do that.)
A few moments later, I accidentally bumped into him with two cups of orange juice in my hand.  Juice sloshed to the floor.
"I feel like I'm in the kitchen with Kramer." He said.

See how different?

It's quite a spread. I love that.  Here's one of my favorite quotes from Tad. He said this when I was mad at him for not being sensitive enough about something or other.
Me: (*frustrated noise*) Why are you being such a DUDE!
Tad: Well, sorry I'm not Ralph Macchio!

He's not. Ralph Macchio.  And I'm not Kramer.  We're Tad and Alie and we are in turns harsh, sarcastic, loving, sensitive, romantic, and lots of the time...funny. 

On January 15th, I'll be in Argyle New York visiting Harald.  That is a day that Tad and I usually celebrate with a picnic outside.  Yep, in January.  It marks the date that he and I followed an old Estonian legend and walked around Kaali Jarv (Crater Lake)  The legend is that if two lovers walk around whole lake holding hands and never letting go, they will stay together forever into eternity.  Tad and I made that walk around Kaali when he visited me in Estonia.  The day we did it, I misread the bus schedule and we were stranded in a tiny town on Saaremaa in 20 degree weather.  There was one little store open so Tad and I bought food and drink for a picnic and we ate outside. The bus came four hours later...eleven years ago.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'd do anything for you dear, anything, for you mean everything to me...

 This song is in my head.  The song from Oliver Twist.  I'd do anything for you, dear, anything, for you mean everything to me....  I played a pick pocket boy in our middle school production of this play...anyway, the song is in my head because I'm thinking of my friend Harald. 
I'm going to see him this weekend.  My Peace Corps friends and I are meeting in Albany--six of us.  I rented us a minivan and found a little B & B just ten minutes from the nursing home where Harald is living..a B & B which sleeps exactly six and is owned by farmers who will come and make us organic vegetarian breakfasts in the mornings.  Perfect.

I talked to Harald yesterday and asked him if there was anything I could bring.  He asked for mint tea, brownies baked from scratch and for a picture.  He wants a picture of Vatslav Havel.  Vatslav Havel is the former president of the Czech Republic and also a playwright and a poet. He died recently.  But I did not know all this before googling him yesterday. And mine and Harald's conversation about this request was rather amusing. I guess that's what you get when a man with a Northern New York accent and a brain tumor (who also happens to be worn out from his consultation with the doctor at the hospital) tries to convey something to a woman who is hard of hearing.  This was our conversation:

Me: Anything you want me to bring you?
Harald: Yeah, some brownies with no...high fructose corn syrup...that stuff makes my tumor go crazy.
Me: Okay, I can do that. Anything else?
Harald: Mint tea.  And a picture of Vaslav Havel.
Me: Who?
Harald: Vatslav Havel
Me: What? Batsleff Hubble? Who's that?
Harald: No...Vatslav Havel!
Me: Vastef Huvel? Who is that!
Harald: Vatslav Havel. I want a picture of him for my wall.
Me: Okay, I'll get that for you.

I hang up after telling Harald I love him.  I have no idea who he's talking about.  So I open my laptop.  And google "Batslove Hubble"
I got a blog called The Contrary Farmer with a post called "a barn full of bats"  Apparently bats love mosquitoes. They eat them. That's what the post is about.  Well that can't be right.  So I google again
"Batsleff Hauble"
Now I'm at a wikipedia page for The Battle of Halbe.  Apparently this was was a battle in which the German Ninth Army, under the command of Colonel General Theodor Busse was destroyed as a fighting force by the Red Army during the Battle for Berlin. The most interesting thing I found here was there were 25,000 soldiers and several thousand civilians who were able to get through three lines of soviet troops....
Okay, well at least I'm learning something.
I try again
"Vatsleff Habel"
And finally I have it.  Vatslav Havel...I see the word "Czech" and I know this must be it. Harald lived in the Czech Republic for four years.  So I printed up some pictures for him.  This one was my favorite. He's with the Rolling Stones!

I am excited to see everyone.  Harald warns me that he looks different. I expect this.  I told him that he sounds the same and I know that he is the same Harald that I've always loved.  He says, "Yeah, well now I got the perfect face for radio."
I can't wait to see that face on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Keeping it real

Disclaimer: This blog post is not for the faint of heart.  Though if you are a female reader, you've likely been through something like this before (though perhaps not handled quite as ridiculously.)

Saturday morning I drove over to my sister Beth's house to meet Laura, our girlfriend.  We were all going to drive to Chicago for our friend Stephanie's birthday.  We were in Laura's car, on the way to pick up Jenny, our fourth when I made an unpleasant discovery. "Oh boy..."
"What?" My sister asked, turning around.
She kept staring at me, so I continued. "I bled through my pants." I had my period and it was day two. Day two is the worst.  "Oh, help! Someone give me a napkin or something so I can stop the flow! Argh! It's like I'm hemorrhaging!"
"I'm sorry!" Beth cried. "I have nothing. Laura?"
"Look in the glove box", Laura said glancing back at me sympathetically."
"Dammit!"  I looked around but couldn't find anything but my hat and mittens. I sure wasn't using those.  Then I grabbed the cardboard cozy off my Starbucks cup.  I folded it.  And stuffed it down my pants.
My sister laughed. 
"I have to stop the flow!" I said.
When we finally got to Jenny's, I made small talk with her father-in-law while Beth and Laura used the two bathrooms. Why did I let them go ahead of me?!  I blabbed about our ride to Jenny's father-in-law and he laughed. All the while I was thinking, 'let me into that bathroom before this mess gets any worse!
Finally I went in and got the cardboard out of my underwear and inspected the damage. My jeans were soaked through. "Oh this is terrible!" I said with dismay.  Loudly apparently because I heard Beth through the door.
"You can wash them out here and borrow some of Jenny's pants maybe?"
I washed them out as best I could in the sink.  Looking around that there were no errant drops of blood anywhere to scare Jenny's father-in-law.
Then I went into Jenny's bathroom and found the hair dryer.  I could hear the girls in the kitchen.  "Do I hear the hairdryer?  What's Alie doing?"  They all know I don't dry my hair.  All three of them came in to find me with hair dryer down my pants.
"Hello." I said.
They all burst into laughter.
Later that night, when we returned to Stephanie's apartment from the bar and I was changing out of the new pair of pants that I bought in Andersonville to replace my soiled ones for the night, I overheard Beth and Laura in the spare bedroom.  Beth was telling Laura that they could share a bed if she didn't hog it.
"You're an asshole!" Laura said.
"No I'm not!" Beth replied. "I'm just keeping it real.

Me too.  I hope you weren't offended by this tale.  And if you are female and this is a familiar story, I hope you took some solace in knowing that someone else suffered such a fate.  And told about it. Just keeping it real.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Badger Blog

I am not really a football fan.  Okay, I'm not at ALL a football fan.  Honestly, I think it takes up WAY too many days of the week.  Isn't all day Sunday enough?  Suddenly winter comes and football runs the weekend.  What is the deal?  And then it's playoffs and now football gets Sunday and Saturday?  Also the occasional Thursday night. Then college football too? COME on!

Saturday night I went to celebrate the birthday of one of my dearest friends.  My sister and I and two of our girlfriends went to Chicago.  Our old roommate met us too.  It was a wonderful reunion.  We danced to Madonna and Janet Jackson and Pink and Prince and Lady Gaga and Rick Springfield too (which is wierd.)
My sister and our friend Laura dissapeared from our bar for a while though.  58 minutes to be exact. (I set the stopwatch on my phone).  Know where they went? TO A SPORTS BAR TO WATCH FOOBALL!!! Jocks.  Don't worry though, they came back and we had a lovely time. 

In honor of football, even though I don't like it, I have attached two Badger-related photos.  The first: I made my mother-in-law, Mary, a Badger shirt for Christmas.  Look how cute it looks on her!  I'm proud.

The second? Well, we watched the Rose Bowl at my sister's house and their TV is really big and I was having a great time taking pictures of myself "with" the players and coaches on the screen.  Here's my favorite.  Me and Bielema having a little conference.  Know what I'm saying? "Hey, Bielema, you guys are doing fine.  It's okay if you lose, know why?  Because its just a F$%*ing GAME!!!!

Oh, football.

Friday, January 6, 2012

White glove delivery

Well, Tad and I have a new television.  We were talking for months about throwing away our television, and now we suddenly have a new one. I have no idea how this happened.

It has been a debacle from start to finish. But now it is there. And set up. And pretty nice.

It started when we went to Best Buy. We went straight to the flat screens when we got there and I pointed to the least expensive one.  
"Get that one." I said.
"Well..." Tad said slowly, "Look at that one ($239) compared to that one ($399).  See how different the picture quality is?"
"Yeah, but when we get it home, there won't be another TV next to it so we'll never know that there's one with better quality!"
Tad understood my logic, but didn't necessarily agree with it.
So I hung with the kids and left Tad in charge of picking a TV. This was not going to be the quick in-out I anticipated.  I should have known.  The man stands in the tea aisle at the grocery store contemplating which tea to buy for twenty minutes so you can imagine how long he might take picking out an expensive piece of electronics.  We were at Best Buy for 70 minutes and left without a TV.

After lots of hours of research, he finally chose and ordered one on Amazon (We had a gift certificate from my parents) white glove delivery.

I imagined white glove delivery as two men in tuxedos, towels draped over their arms, coming in all fancy-like asking "Where shall we place your television, madame".  They would shine it up with a clean handkerchief and offer to brew me some tea before they left.  Tad told me white glove delivery is that they deliver, unpack, set up, and haul away debris.  No tuxedos, but still pretty fancy.

So when the TV came, I was ready. But he just asked me where to put the box, put it down and left. 


Perhaps I should have been more assertive.  "Where are the white gloves?!" I should have demanded.  But he seemed in such a hurry, and after I signed, he left.

That night, Tad and I tried to understand how to put the stupid thing on its stand and got irritated with each other, the children clamoring for attention and us not giving it properly.  (Tad was annoyed with me--rightfully so, says my mom--because I didn't request the unpacking and set up that was supposed to happen.  I was annoyed with him because I want him to see merriment in putting things together, but he usually is very serious about it--my mom saw my point too)  I always think of the time my mom and I were trying to move a heavy table down into the basement and got the giggles.  "Don't make me laugh!" she cried, weakened and we both collapsed on the basement stairs, in a fit of laughter, unable to move with the weight of the table above us.  Why can't Tad get the giggles with me, I ask you?!!!  But, I digress.  During this arduous process, I was trying to make dinner in between holding up this enormous TV and Tad trying to make sense of the wordless instructions....  
"I still love you."  Tad said, "Even though I'm really annoyed with you."
"Hmph." I hmphed.  "I'm annoyed with you too."
"I know." Tad smiled.

We called over our neighbor Brian who has saved us from the following (but not limited to): a broken furnace, pine cones in our heat duct, a basement flood, and now, a TV assembly.  He helped Tad and it was together immediately. 
"What would we do without you?" I asked Brian.
"I don't know." He grinned.

Well, its done. It's put together. And it gives us not only TV but Netflix, Pandora, Youtube and lots lots more.  It's pretty cool.  But man alive, it was hard to get to this point.

So much for the white gloves.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Under siege

I remember the day that Lucy was born. Holding her in my arms, marvelling at how quickly and easily she got the hang of nursing.  Thinking, I have a daughter.  What a joy.  And make no mistake, it is.  BUT.

BUT...  It seems as though we love each other more than one can imagine loving another. And we want to strangle each other more than one can imagine...

So last night, Lucy and I picked out today's outfit together. We have started this as a nighttime routine to avoid the morning meltdowns.  I have let go of any possibility of her matching. At. All.  She chose a red shirt and a pink short sleeve dress and red and black polka dot tights and a Badger t-shirt to go on top of it all.  I actually had to counsel Tad last night before bed about how her outfit needed to be put together.  So she'd be warm, first of all. And so that the proper layers were under the proper layers.  If they are not, Lucy comes to me, pained expression on her face, wriggling her body and says "I'm TIGHT!!!" 

She came down this morning all dressed and then when I told her how cute she looked, and her daddy pointed out that we were both wearing dresses, Lucy said, "Mommy, put a t-shirt on over yours!"
"Oh, I am happy the way I am, Lucy, but thank you for the idea."  I said.
"Well then I don't want to WEAR my Go Badgers shirt!" She cried. 
"But honey", I say, "I thought you wanted to wear that shirt today since Grandpa and Nana are picking you up" (Grandpa and Nana are die-hard Badger fans)
"I changed my mind" she said. "I can change my mind!"   I wish I could convey in this blog post how exactly she sounded.  Also, I taught her this notion of mind-changing to empower her.  And back in my face it goes!
Tad gave me a look to say, 'it doesn't matter'.  And it doesn't.
So I help her off with her t-shirt and she's satisfied.  Wearing a rainbow flowered pajama top underneath a pink dress with red and black polka-dot tights.  Whatever.

Then comes breakfast.

I made toast with cinnamon sugar and bowls of cereal for both kids.  Lucy comes marching in the kitchen with her plate.  "Is this the butter that I like or that Coen likes?" she demands, stressing the 'I' and the 'Coen' with extreme dramatics.  Coen has recently declared that he only likes the sweet cream spread made by Trader Joes and he does not like 'I can't believe its not butter' kind.  I am happy to indulge since he eats all his vegetables and generally does not complain about food.  Lucy decided that she only likes the latter brand.  This morning, I spread both with the sweet cream.  Back to Lucy's question.
"Yours has the kind you like and Coen has the kind he likes" I lie.  I swear she really has no preference; she's just mimicking her brother.
Lucy goes back to the table and returns to the kitchen a moment later.
"Mommy!" She says with her arms crossed angrily.  "This is NOT the kind that I like. I tasted it with my finger and it is NOT the kind that I like. It is the kind that COEN likes!"
Wow, maybe she really does have a preference. 
I have the fridge open, getting my own breakfast ready.  I sigh. "Lucy, that is your breakfast. You may eat it or not. But I am not making something new."
Lucy grabs a tub of strawberry cream cheese.  "This is what I want on my toast."
"Well, I will make you some with that tomorrow."
Lucy takes the tub defiantly and marches away. 
When I come to the table she looks at me, trying to entice a stand off, holding her cream cheese.
Daddy comes to the rescue. "Lucy, go get a kid knife and I'll help you spread that on."
Now why didn't I think of that?  Oh, perhaps because my every move this morning has been challenged (loudly) by a four-year-old.
She gets a butter knife and spreads thick layers of the stuff on top of her already buttered toast.  And eats, smiling (smugly). 

But you know what? When I left for work, Lucy was hiding on her daddy so he couldn't ask her to get her coat on.  I say, "Can I have a hug goodbye?" Lucy unearths herself from her pillows.  "Only you can find me Mommy." She says, conspiratorially and drops her voice to a whisper.  "So I can hug and kiss you." I look into her big brown eyes.  And I love her more than I can possibly imagine.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What a Wonderful Winter Week

The week after Christmas was jam-packed with fun activities and outings for my family. Now that I'm back at work, I feel it's time to reminisce.  I missed my kids yesterday after being with them for 12 straight days.  I guess even Lucy had a tough time.  She cried in the late morning saying, "I want my mommy." Luckily, her Daddy works at her school and her teacher brought her to his classroom for a quick hug. It doesn't get much better than that.  Anyway, our week:

Monday:  Play date at the neighbors. The big boys played football outside and the little boys (and girl--mine) colored and ate snacks inside.  Funny thing that happened?  I was just talking to Tad about how our boy is so sensitive we aren't sure if he could even handle a brother.  During the football game, he made his friend's lip bleed accidentally when he tackled him.  My sweet Coen cried and cried because of how bad he felt.  Yep...he's better off with a sister.
Tuesday: We dropped our kids off at our friend Natalie's and she watched them for three and a half hours while Tad and I went shopping at my favorite re-sale shop: Re-Threads, ate an Indian lunch buffet at Majaraja, and went for a brisk walk to Alterra for some afternoon coffee.  Then we picked up the kids and took them to Best Buy.  Funny thing that happened? My children don't play video games on a computer or a TV, let alone a system.  Watching them play Wii was hilarious.  They were waving the controller around and jumping excitedly.  It was just the preview screen that they though they were controlling.
Wednesday: We went to the Milwaukee Public Museum with Tad's good friend Erik and his niece Ellen and daughter Natalie.  Funny thing that happened?  All of us observed three beetles in a pile-up.  Of course Tad, Erik, Ellen and I knew what they were really doing but the children were making unbeknownst-to-them-inappropriate commentary that was very entertaining. Then Tad did some voice over for the actions in his best Ringo Starr impression.

Thursday: I went out to Sussex to an indoor playground called Flabbergast.  I met a friend of mine who I have known since I was five years old.  She and I bonded on the teeter totter on the kindergarten playground and have been friends ever since. Our kids played on the bounce house equipment and had a wonderful time while we caught up.  It was so great to see her. We haven't seen each other in a couple years but we could easily pick up immediately where we left off like no time had passed at all.
Then in the afternoon, Natalie dropped her kids off and we returned the favor so she and her husband could go out for an afternoon lunch date.  Funny thing that happened? Lucy and Siri set up their dinner table under the mistletoe and spent much of dinner making kissy faces at everyone in between bites of noodles.

Friday: We had a playdate at our house with the neighbors.  That was also gingerbread house day and Tecmo Bowl night.  I gave Coen my old discman and he was up until past 10:00 p.m. listening to the Beatles. Funny thing that happened?  In the afternoon, Coen brought out my guitar and played interpretive music while Lucy acted it out.  He played scary music and she hid under the cushions, sad music and she pretended to cry, fast music and she ran around the house.  It was good fun. The whole week was good fun.  I hope yours was too.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My polar opposites

My children are sooooo different.  It is sometimes almost laughable.

In the morning, Coen just puts on whatever clothing has been set out for him. If he chooses his own, its the same shirt for as many days as his dad would let him wear it.  Lucy is extremely particular about what she wears. If I want her to wear something, she's definitely NOT going to wear it.  In fact, yesterday, I found a pair of pants I wanted her to wear and said. "Hmm...well, you shouldn't wear these today!" Guess which pants she wore.

At mealtime, Coen tastes whatever is one his plate.  He eats things like spinach with balsamic vinaigrette, sushi, lentil soup, etc...  If I so much as put a carrot or a piece of broccoli on Lucy's plate, she waves her hand in front of her face in disgusted fashion and removes it from her plate instantly. The only way I can get her to eat any fruit or vegetable is if it is in smoothie or sauce form, very cleverly disguised. 

When we have guests, Coen is immediately interested in talking to them, to even a first time visitor, he will launch into a dissertation on his life and times without hesitation.  Lucy hides behind me, sometimes holding my hand for up to 60 minutes into the time that the stranger is in our house.  Once comfortable however, Coen will settle into some kind of independent play, writing down meticulously each of his Pokemon card names onto sheets and sheets of paper. Lucy will let loose, hamming it up by doing crazy dances or performances, making everyone laugh.

At night, Coen goes to bed after much talking and discussing and asking us "What should I think about?" He usually calls downstairs several times before finally settling down with concerns about the following day or claims that he can't sleep or he's "thinking about something he doesn't want to think about."  Lucy on the other hand, goes to bed immediately with her stories and lullaby.  She likes to give me a kiss on each cheek, my nose and forehead followed by a huge hug. Most nights, that's the last we hear from her until the morning.

When dawn does come, Coen has to be dragged out of bed, turning his light back off and crawling back under his covers several times before he slowly and grudgingly puts his clothes on (whatever we picked out).  Lucy pops up with a smile on her face and quickly jumps out of bed, ready to get dressed (after much deliberation of course)

Both my children are wonderful, beautiful, kind, funny and loving souls.  I love the way they cuddle in together in moments of peace, and even the differing ways they express anger (Coen with tears, Lucy with a shriek that would hurt the strongest of ears and often a few things thrown).  I also love the way they are different. 

I better go, right now both my very different children are looking at me and claiming boredom!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

I do love New Year's Eve.  Back when Tad and I first had Coen, and tried the going out thing...we realized that it's way more fun to stay in.  So at our house, we celebrate with an afternoon snack of baked brie, a cheese and cracker plate, fruit and bubbly juice (kid soda).  We all get dressed up--Coen and Tad wore ties. Lucy wanted to be "Baby New Year's older brother" and I put on an antique dress that I love.

We toast all the things that we loved most about the year past.  Our family decided on:
1. That Tad, Coen and Lucy ALL go to Highland Community School every day
2. That Tad became a Montessori teacher this year
3. That Lucy started school this year AND stopped using diapers
4. That Coen was in his first play this year and discovered the Beatles
5. That Alie has made some really great changes in her life.

Then the kids get to eat their absolute favorite dinner--Kid Cuisine.  These are like TV dinners for kids.  We ring in the British New Year at 6:30 (creative licence) and blow horns and yell out the front door.

After the children go to bed, Tad moves the table into the living room where the Christmas lights make things look pretty and we light candles and have a date in our own house. 

I made Indian food.

And then Tad and I stay up late and re-read two letters we wrote each other when we were falling in love (when I lived in Estonia and he in Madison).  And then every year we make lists of our top five albums (desert island music) and the five songs of the year and defining moments with each member of our family and compare them against years past. 

And this year, we were a little grumpy, all of us...Tad had stayed up until 4:00 am with friends; I was dealing with hormones, the kids stayed up way too late the night before...but at one point, when I was starting to get frustrated and almost suggested we wait for tomorrow to celebrate, Tad grabbed me and said in my ear--"It doesn't have to be perfect. It's still our New Year."

And it was.