Sunday, November 29, 2009

Date Night

In our former life, ie before we moved to Tinytown, it was easy, common even, for David and me to have a date night. Hire a babysitter - or better yet drop the kids at Gaga's house - for a couple of hours, have dinner at one of a zillion restaurants, go see one of the 20 or so different movies being shown in our town, and that was that.

It's a little more trouble here.

David's parents came for Thanksgiving, so we decided to take advantage of having sitters in the house last night and have ourselves a bona fide dinner and a movie date.

Except the only thing showing in our town right now is Astroboy.

The simple and obvious solution in my book would be to go see New Moon since it was showing in a town about 20 minutes from here. Unfortunately, my non-teenage-vampire-loving husband disagreed, so we set off for the hour drive to Olean to see The Blind Side, which we both actually wanted to see anyway.

Knowing the earlier show had sold out, we decided to swing by the theater and buy our tickets on the way to dinner. Too late. Already sold out.

Since New Moon was still not an option David would consider, we had to settle on a different movie. Our options? 2012, Planet 51, Old Dogs, and something about a Fantastic Fox. We decided the lesser of four evils was 2012.

Sadly, it started a half-hour earlier than Blind Side, so we no longer had time to go to dinner. But really, who wants an oriental chicken salad and a martini from Applebee's when you can have popcorn and coke?

Since I'm such a great person, I will save you the eight or ten bucks you may have spent so see 2012 if you found yourself in a similar situation. Here's the plot synopsis.

Begin the film with a young scientist in some obscure place discovering a geologic abnormality that will lead to the end of the world. Introduce a few minor characters, most of whom will die. Show the US president and other world leaders agonizing over what to do, all the while being prodded by some unscrupulous politician to make immoral choices. Make sure movie's hero is a divorced dad who is spending the weekend with his estranged kids who don't like him. This way when he saves the world they can reconcile and realize they really do love him. And, whatever you do, don't kill the dog.

What you've seen it already? No, that was Deep Impact. Or Armageddon. Maybe Dante's Peak. Day After Tomorrow? Outbreak?

I'm pretty sure the point of these movies is to make us feel like maybe the end of the world wouldn't really be such a bad thing. While watching 2012, I found myself thinking, "Really, a tidal wave is going to destroy us all? Can it PLEASE happen NOW??!!"

I have to say that eating greasy popcorn while watching the world brace for impending doom would really not be all that bad of a date night . . . if we didn't have to drive an hour even to do that.

Sadly, the most entertaining part of the evening came when David dropped me off to buy the tickets for Blind Side. But, like the good scriptwriter that whoever wrote 2012 was not, I'll leave you hanging until tomorrow for that. As long as the world doesn't end before then.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lauren's Party

It still feels quite strange to me to have birthday parties for my kids without my parents and brothers and nieces and nephew being there. I am quite thankful, however, that we moved to a place where my kids have so. many. cousins. Everyone at Lauren's party today except one little boy was a cousin. And we were even missing several!

The cake (yes, I made it):

The princess tablescape:

The food was chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate dipped pretzel rods (aka princess wands), grapes, and heart-shaped sandwiches. We also had pink lemonade in clear plastic cups.

The girls decorated princess crowns, the boys visors:

Everyone in their creations:

My favorite princess blowing out her candles for the fourth time:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's what the kids contributed to today's meal:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I should keep a tape recorder in my van

It's where the kids and I seem to have the best conversations.

While we were in the car yesterday I told the kids that they would each be allowed to pick out a new Christmas ornament when we go to Buffalo in a couple of weeks. I reminded them that each year we mark the ornaments that belong to each of them so when they grow up and move out someday, they will have a collection of ornaments.

Joshua: Do we have to use our own money?
Me: No, I buy you each an ornament every year.
J: So by the time I'm in my 20's and move out, I'll have that many ornaments?
Me: Yes, you should have more than 20 by then.
J: Alright! Then I'll never have to spend my own money on an ornament . . . until I have kids. I guess they'll want new ones.
Lauren: I don't want to have kids.
Me: You don't want to have a baby someday?
Lauren: I want a baby, just not a kid.
Me: Well, babies grow into kids. Look at you guys. I had three babies, and you all got so big.
Lauren: Do mommies have to change baby's diapers?
Me: Yes, mommies do change a lot of diapers.
Josh: I'm glad dads don't have to change diapers!
Me: Oh, yes they do. Your daddy changed a lot of your diapers.
J: I'm not changing diapers. I'll just stay at work all day.
Me: What about when the baby needs to be changed at night?
J: Well, some people work until like midnight, don't they?
Me: Yes, but then you wouldn't get to see your wife and baby very much. Wouldn't you miss them?
J: I'll just come home when the baby's three.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend snippets

1. Today was a milestone for me. For the first time in my life, I have Christmas lights adorning the outside of my home.

I grew up in a house out in the country, in the woods at the end of a very long driveway. I suppose my parents' rationale was that there was no one to see the outside lights, so why put them up? So it was that I just sort of grew up an inside-lights-only kind of Christmas decorator.

I've changed. My kids so love seeing the Christmas lights on other people's houses that it has always been a disappointment to them that we didn't have them on ours. So this year I decided to change that.

(I admit it's early, but if you follow me on Facebook - and why wouldn't you - you know that I have two very busy weekends coming up after this one, AND the weatherman says snow next weekend. It was cold enough hanging them today when it was 45 degrees outside. (That's Fahrenheit, Shannon!))

So . . . raise your hand if you think it's a bad idea to let me have a staple gun. Raise your hand if you think it's a bad idea to let me balance precariously on a ledge to hang lights.

You there, in the back row . . . the one without your hand raised . . . have we met?

Amazingly, I managed not to kill myself, though Josh told me I looked like a sloth when I was in that last pose. (I had my leg wrapped around the post for leverage.)

Despite my proclivity for accidents, I did not fall off the stool or the ledge. Though I did have to ask David if it's bad to pierce the wires on the lights with the staple gun. My aim wasn't so great when I was bending over backward. Apparently, yes, it's bad. Especially when I managed to pierce both of the wires with one staple. Good thing I keep a husband on hand to fix such things.

2. Is this the cutest helper you've ever seen or what?

Joshua did all of the picture taking today, and I thought this picture of Lauren was quite good.

3. Another reason it was a good time to get out and hang the lights today was that we have barely gotten out of the house at all for the past week. We have had one little sickie after another.

This is how Lauren and Ethan have fallen asleep (around 6 pm) for the past two (Ethan) or three (Lauren) nights:

Ethan is on the mend but still running a fever. Joshua also decided to start running a fever on Friday, and the problem with more than one kid being sick at the same time is that we have an exception to the "no sleeping in mommy and daddy's bed" rule when a kid is sick.

Ethan slept in our room Wednesday and Thursday nights, but Friday night they both had fevers. What to do? Friday is waaaay too far removed for me to remember what we did, but I do know that I ended up on the couch last night and by morning, I was sharing it with TWO other people. The couch. Ouch.

4. Lauren has been on a knock-knock joke kick. She cracks herself up with "jokes" that all involve eating.

Who's there?
Tissue who?
Why do you have to eat all the tissues?! Hahahahahahahahahahahah!!!!!

She will say the same thing over and over with a different object each time. Cracks. Herself. Up.

Friday, November 20, 2009

No Takes Friday

I've been home with sick kids all week, so I'm not really feeling the Quick Take love this week. Truly, there is not much to report on when one has hardly left the confines of her home all week.

Except there is this: When I was taking pretzel sticks to the boys' school this morning (don't ask), I looked to see what movie was showing on our one-screen theater this weekend.

Of ALL the movies to choose from - like, I don't know, TWILIGHT or The Blind Side - they are showing Michael Jackson's This Is It.

Sometimes I love this town, and sometimes it makes me want to cry.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On Pee Cups and Throat Swabs

I've had to head to the pediatrician's office twice this week. The first time was for Lauren, the second for Ethan. Two visits; zero diagnoses.

Which is just what one hopes for when one has no insurance. I could have flown home for Christmas for what I'm spending in doctor's office fees and lab costs. Because, you know, the quick in-office test could have been wrong, so they have to send it to the lab for longer, more expensive testing.

Which also came back negative.

But, don't worry, there was lots of fun to be had while we were there. For the low, low price of only one arm and one leg, I was able to experience the joy of getting my three year old daughter to pee in a cup.

What? You haven't had the pleasure?

It only took three tries, several plastic cups, one rubber glove, countless tears, and forty-five minutes. All to find out that she did not have a UTI. Or at least, she probably didn't.

Since getting my five year old son to pee in a cup would not have been much of a challenge, he decided to have a ridiculously high fever and excruciating sore throat instead of painful urination. That way I could have his throat swabbed.

Still . . . a throat swab? That's not bad. Come on, it could be worse, right?

Yeah, they could make my everything-irritates-him, pulls-his-shirts-collars-down-to-his-nipples-because-they're-always-"choking"-him, can't-stand-anything-touching-his-neck son wear a mask. Apparently anyone who comes in with a fever and a cough must wear a surgical mask.

I could see him starting to freak out a little when I got the mask out of the box. As his eyes darted to and fro with that crazed must-escape-somehow look, I tried reassuring him that it wouldn't hurt. It's just thin, like paper. See, Ethan?

He folded his body inward and said he was scared to put it on in front of all the people in the lobby. No problem, said I, we can go down the hall and put it on right outside the door to the doctor's office. (The pediatrician's office in a hospital.) I carefully put it on him and tied the top string around his head.

His body tensed up, and I could see him starting to panic. We entered the waiting room, and hallelujah, there were no other people in it. It was an empty room! Surely, he won't have to wear the mask since the room is empty. Right?


I signed him in, asked the girl in the window if he had to wear it even though there was no one else in the room, was told yes he did, and turned around just in time to see his eyes well up and to hear my oh-so-brave five year-old wimper, "Mommy, I'm gonna cry!"

And cry he did.

Once he finally composed himself, it was time for the throat swab. You know, the strep-negative throat swab. The why-did-I-even-put-us-through-this throat swab. The send-it-off-to-the-lab-in-case-our-test-is-wrong throat swab. The you-could-have-bought-a-plane-ticket-instead-because-this-will-cost-you-so-much throat swab. The I-told-him-it-wouldn't-hurt-but-I-forgot-his-throat-was-already-raw-and-painful-even-BEFORE-he-began-crying-from-the-mask-from-hell throat swab.

Of course, it came back negative. And, apparently it did hurt.

At least he got what the doctor's office refers to as a "free" popsicle. Since it's pretty much all we got for our money, I'd say it was decidedly the most expensive popsicle he's ever eaten.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank you, Gaga!

The perfect antidote for a little girl's sickness arrived in the mail today.

I didn't realize the items inside the box were not wrapped, so I opened the box and was going to let her open just one thing and save the rest for her party. (I should have realized this since the box itself was wrapped in princess wrapping paper, but I didn't.) Once she got started, there was no stopping her.

She loves all of it. Thanks, Gaga!

Friday, November 13, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


It's Friday. Which means only four days till Tuesday. As Joshua would say, "What matters that?"

Well, I'll tell you what matters that. Tuesday is when I am hosting a bunco group at my house.

Never heard me mention my bunco group? That's because technically, they're not "my" bunco group. Last month was my first time attending, so that means I've met 99% of the women in the group a grand total of . . . once.

So, what exactly made me open my big mouth and say I'd have the next one at my house? I have no idea. But, open it I did, so in four days I will have a whole bunch of women I have met once, most of whom have known each other for a loooong time, come to my not-done-being-decorated, usually-looks-like-the-circus-must-live-here, contains-only-one-table-with-chairs house to play bunco.

And, did I mention that the hostess provides the food and the prizes? (The money comes from the whole group, but the hostess is responsible for choosing and purchasing them.)

What have I done?


It's become my routine to eat lunch around 12:30 every day. I usually turn on the television and catch the last half of What Not to Wear while I eat. (I don't really care for the first half where they tell all about the person and make fun of her clothes. I just like to see the new outfits and the hair & make-up makeovers.)

Of course, Lauren always wants to sit on the couch and watch it with me. She calls it "the haircut show." Upon hearing her playing with her dolls one day this week, I realized maybe I let her watch this too often. This was the running monologue she had going on:

"Hmm, it's a little longer than I thought. Let's fix this. Long hair doesn't always look good when you're old."

"Now I'm just fixing your eyebrows. Much better. And, you need some lipstick and some eyestick. Ooh, you look so good."


Speaking of Lauren, she has begun to really dislike being away from me. She's started crying when she leaves for preschool, and her teacher told me that she cried for me for almost 20 minutes on Monday.

When I dropped her off on Wednesday, I said, "Now remember, there's no reason to cry. Mommy will be back in three hours, and you're going to have so much fun."

Nevertheless when I picked her up her teacher said she had cried again saying that she missed me. I asked her why she cried, and she said, "Mommy, I tried not to, but I just wanted you."

She never did this before and has never minded being away from me. Yesterday I had to make an all-day trip to Olean, so I asked her if she wanted to go with me or stay home with a sitter. She chose stay home because she hates the long drive. Still, when I got home our sitter (who is actually one of Lauren's cousins who has babysat her many times) said that she cried for me a couple of times.

Lauren said, "I just love you. You give me a lot of kisses, and I needed one."


Operation Get Back Into My Jeans has officially begun.

Time for some brutal honesty. Just between you and me and the worldwide web, I have gained 17 lbs since I moved to Pennsylvania. SEVENTEEN! Consequently, I have decided that I must lose 15 pounds by Christmas. That gives me exactly six weeks from today. I began by getting back into a gym routine on Monday, and to give me even more incentive to stick with my exercise program, I'm taking classes to become a kickboxing instructor.

Yes, you read that right . . . a kickboxing instructor.

So, if you have any rude comments you'd like to make about me and my overweight butt, I'd suggest you do it now, because come January I will take you down.

You and my jeans size.


Check out these homemade pretzels we made a few days ago:

They were so unbelievably good. I think if there is any hope of Operation Get Back Into My Jeans succeeding, I'd better not make them again.

(Yes, Lauren's is shaped like a cat.)


I finally got around to listing my china on ebay last week, and the auction ended last night without a single piece of it selling.

I really want to buy some new dishes, and since we have used our wedding china approximately, I dont know, maybe zero times in nine years, I thought that would be a good way to pay for the new dishes I want.

Then again, maybe not. To add insult to injury, I still had to pay the ebay listing fees, so instead of making a little money, I spent a little money. Splendid.


Sorry, folks. I have to go pick up Lauren, but if you need more Quick Takes, head over to Conversion Diary. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Perfectly Poetical Tuesday

One of many blessings that has come from discovering Sarah's awesome blog is that I found out about Perfectly Poetical Tuesday, a monthly event held over at The Little Stuff of Life.

One Tuesday each month she offers up a different theme or style of poetry and asks bloggers to submit their own original poetry.

I know. Sounds as exciting as watching paint peel, right?

I was an English major and have taught both high school and middle school English in my pre-lawyer life; nevertheless, I have never enjoyed writing poetry. I like reading the really famous stuff, but other than that I'm not even much of a poetry reader. I'm unimaginative, and I have a creative streak a millimeter wide.

But . . . this month's theme is the Cinquain. It's five lines with a prescribed (small) number of words in each line. Not much room for imagination, very little need for creativity, and only eleven words. Now that sounds like my kind of poetry.

So here's my contribution inspired by this photo I took last night:

It's different
When you're alone
It's better with others


Like most moms, I ask my kids the same questions every afternoon. "How was school today?" "Did you have a good day?" " What did you do?"

The answers are always similar: good. yes. nothing.

This is why it was so surprising to me after dinner last night when Joshua stood up and said, "Hey, watch me do my disco" and then proceeded to perform a full-on finger-pointing, hip-swaying Saturday Night Fever rendition. He was actually quite good.

Me: Where did you learn about disco?
J: At school.
M: In gym?
J: No, just at school.
M: Your teacher showed you?
J: Yeah, we always dance before handwriting.
M: Well, of course.

This is when Ethan hops out of his chair and starts doing criss-crossing hip-hop moves with his feet. "Look what I can do," he says.

Now I'm really intrigued.

Me: Ethan, where did you learn that?
Ethan: At school.
M: But where in school? In your classroom?
E: No, during brain gym.
M: Brain gym? What's brain gym.
E: It's when we all go in the hall and dance.
M: Who? Your class?
E: No, all the kindergarten classes.
M: All the kindergarteners go in the hall and dance together??? Every day???

For the record, when I was a kid and said I had done nothing at school, it was most likely true. But when you and your class are learning disco routines before handwriting or going in the hall to do a little criss-cross with 50 other kids, you absolutely may not say you did nothing at school.

Friday, November 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


This is not going to be one of those posts where I say how sorry I am for not blogging much lately and promise to do better in the future. Don't worry, I'm not going to whine about how I haven't felt all that great and how busy we've been what with company and PTA meetings and conferences. Seriously, I'm not.


It snowed most of the night last night, and it was the perfect time for it since the kids did not have school today. Last time it snowed, the ground would be covered every morning, but by the time they got home from school, it would be mostly gone. It's only 9:40 a.m., but so far they're calling today a great day.


We had a great time with my mom, aunt, and niece here last week.

The kids partied, trick-or-treated, made a haunted house, baked mummy cookies.

There was only one thing missing:


On the way home from taking everyone to the airport in Buffalo, Lauren and I made a stop at the mall. The wonderful, enormous, inviting, consumer-pleasing mall.

I must have looked like an idiot walking around with this big silly grin on my face, but let me tell you, it made me happy. It's amazing - and sad, I'm sure - how good it felt to suddenly have all the retail I could want right at my fingertips again.

Of course, I couldn't afford to actually purchase much of it, but just knowing it was right there with me was enough. It was like wrapping myself up in a big, cozy consumer quilt, pulling corners of Pottery Barn, Ann Taylor, Kirkland's, and Lord & Taylor around my shoulders all snug and secure.

I'm sure there's a therapy for this kind of thinking.


Lauren loved it, too. As soon as we walked out of Lord & Taylor and she realized we were on the second floor, she started pleading to ride the "calculator" down to the first floor. I told her that we could indeed ride the escalator, and when she saw it she literally jumped up and down squealing with delight.

As we stepped onto it, I asked her if she was having a good time at the mall with just mommy. She looked up at me and said, "Mommy, this is so fun my pants aren't even irritating me anymore."

(She had cried for at least half an hour when I made her wear pants because she always wants to wear dresses. Apparently, a calculator ride is the cure.)


It makes me sad to realize that she is my last baby. Last night as she was getting ready for bed, she asked where here "nightgowned" was. I love how she adds the "d" sound on the end and cannot bring myself to correct it. Once she stops mispronouncing words there will be no one left here to do it.

At least not in a way that is cute. I still have issues with metallurgy.


Josh finished his newest picture at his art lesson this week:

Head over to Conversion Diary to check out more Quick Takes.