Showing posts from 2011

This is your brain on Christmas

This is your brain, any given day, When the sun shines bright or the sky is gray, January, November, July, June, or May, But this is your brain on Christmas… You wake up in the morning, at half past two, And make lists of all you have to do. Shopping, baking, and caroling, too. This is your brain on Christmas. Off to the market, something feels strange, List will do no good left on the home range. Can’t pass the red kettle without dropping some change, This is your brain on Christmas. You think of the people that make your life sing, And rush to the store to buy last minute things, Carols are blasted, who doesn’t love Bing? This is your brain on Christmas. At home there are so many memories to make, Sewing and wrapping makes any back ache. At times you feel as fruity as cake. This is your brain on Christmas. There are halls to be decked, no if’s, and’s or but’s, Stuffed reindeer antlers to be tied on our mutts, We all pray for sn

Holly growly to holly jolly

There’s something funny about the holiday season.  While there’s plenty that is “haha-funny” and plenty that is “weird-funny,” mostly it’s just that unexplainable phenomenon of love that transcends us all no matter how we fight it. Take me, for example.  I had this week’s column mostly written and complete.  It was a long tale about how my husband had to buy the world’s largest pumpkins for our front porch and then decided to leave them there.  To rot.  And be illuminated by the Christmas lights.  I have since donned the sagging, orange orbs with festive Santa hats, and I can only hope that the temperature gets low enough to prolong the life of the biggest one, which has started to ooze itself all over the front steps. I have also fallen into the horrible trap that is the stress of the holiday season.  I feel like I have so much to do—presents to buy, crafts to make, meals to plan—that there’s no time to focus on the now.  My poor daughter has a December birthday.  She wanted a

Pay no attention to the man with the long, white, beard. He doesn't belong to us.

And there we stood, all five of us, in line for our photo with Santa.  My dear husband who is not privy to the ins and outs of ordering Santa pictures, went ahead and ordered two without my knowing.  According to the way our Santa’s photo shoots work, we had paid for two pictures each of two different shots. Which is two more than we really needed. But still, when life presents you with an opportunity, you take it, and for us that meant piling in around dear old St. Nick and posing for a family photo.  It was practically a Christmas miracle in and of itself.  “Hurry up and tell him what you want,” I told the kids.  “We’ve got an important picture to take here.” And as we stood there, cheesing it up while my kids sat semi-petrified of the man in red, my first thought was one of complete practicality and selfishness.  “Finally,” I said to myself, “a full family photo.  Now I won’t have to feel like such a bad parent at preschool anymore.”  This excitement comes off of th

Fed up with drop-off (Adventures in the car lane)

With the weather starting to change for the worse and this being the season of giving and caring about our fellow man, woman, and child, I feel it may finally be time to discuss something that plagues so many of us on a daily basis.  And by “plague,” I really mean irritate, annoy, and drive us to frustration so much that our preschool aged passengers are picking up less-than-pleasant phrases for other drivers.  And it’s not just me.  I know for a fact that this problem is one that happens around the county, as well as the state, the country and probably all over the world.  I’m speaking of the car lane at school. If you have ever met me for longer than thirty seconds, you’re probably laughing now because the drop-off lane has been my nemesis for years.  I have been known to purposely park my car a block away and walk to pick them up because that’s how long it took me to cool myself down.  Even after years of trudging through snow and rain, I still park and walk instead of going

The true (?) turkey of the turkey table

Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year for all of us, and whether you use this holiday as one last deep breath before the full onset of the Christmas season or spend the entire day planning your route for the 5:00 AM door-opening sales, one thing remains true: Turkey.  (Unless you’re vegetarian, and I’ll let you have your tofurky and eat your share of the dark meat.) We all know that the first Thanksgiving was nothing to rave about.  There was no parade to watch, nobody did little cutsie pilgrim plays, and certainly there was no Snoopy special on TV.  They ate things like mussels and eels and turnips there probably wasn’t a whipped cream topped pumpkin pie in sight. We can only pause and give real thanks that somewhere between then and now, this holiday has progressed.  From its start, it has evolved from the meager harvest of a settlement by the sea to what my husband calls the greatest holiday ever.  “You just sit around and eat and eat, watch a little bit of dishes, watch

Ain’t too late to hibernate

With a hint of chill in the air, I reached for a cup of tea and found this quote by Pietro Aretino staring back at me from the box.  “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.”  Instantly I thought that dear Pietro didn’t have to shovel driveways or dress children in snowsuits who mysteriously have to go to the bathroom the second the zipper goes up.  I thought that Pietro must not have had to endure darkness at 4:30 while his kids bounced off the walls and surely he didn’t mind the smell of well-worn snow boots permeating through his house. But still, the spring of genius.  And as I sat there with my steaming cup of tea, snuggled in under a blanket while the outside world grew a bit more dark and a bit more cold, I thought that maybe Peitro was on to something.  I may not be a genius, but good things can come from hunkering down overwinter, reading books and drinking tea and playing board games by the firelight.  Knitting and crafting and singing songs, and cooking b

Supersize me

(Because of space issues, this column didn't appear in its entirety in the newspaper.  If you were looking for a missing ending, find it below...) They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but I think everything is bigger in Parenthood.   I came to this realization when I recently downsized the girth of my vehicle.   I did this purely out of selfishness, because I really got tired of my kids calling it a “spaceship” and having to park in Timbuktu so that no one would smash into my doors. Bigger cars are convenient for children.   You need seats to put them in, cargo room to haul their things around, and compartments galore to hold emergency snacks, books, deodorant, homework pencils, etc.   If I had a semi-trailer, I could certainly fill it with the things we tend to need while on the road running from this to that.   In fact, I would be lying if I said I never dreamed of just buying an RV so I could take an honest nap during piano lessons. But with my new smaller vehicle, I’

The Reject Stash of Tootsie Rolls

I don’t know about all of you, but Tootsie Rolls are really low on my list of preferred candies.   They’re even below black licorice and those wax lips that claim to be cherry flavored but end up tasting like, well, wax.   And it just so happens that after a successful night of trick or treating, my kids end up covered in Kit-Kat’s and sour gummies and I end up with what I like to call the “reject stash,” which is made up of broken sucker bits, rock-hard bubble gum, and more Tootsie Rolls than I would want in a lifetime.   Whatever it is I think I see, turns out to be a Tootsie Roll for me… I’ve never quite understood the little chewy chocolate confection that has been around for so very long, but surely there must be more to this popular candy than my taste buds realize.    A quick survey among friends revealed to me that people actually enjoy these things, although I’d like to see someone consume half of the collection I’ve accumulated since the reject stash of the

Mama badge for a real trooper

In a moment of weakness and semi-insanity, I agreed to help take on an entire Girl Scout troop.   And while anyone who truly knows me knows that there is probably no better job for me, I have to admit that it’s harder than I thought it would ever be. Growing up, I was a Girl Scout for many years.   The girls in my troop were without a doubt my best friends, and my leaders were positive and permanent role models in the way I live my life even today.   It was, all in all, an outstanding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything – not even all the badges in the world.   As it was, for all of the years I was an actual scout, the number of badges we actually earned were very few.   It was almost as if one night around a campfire the leaders looked at each other and said, “we don’t need no steenking badges!” and they erupted into hearty belly laughs. But here I am, faced with having to plan meetings and read books and organize beyond my wildest dreams, so that our troop can earn t

In the days before social networking

If you must know, I’m a Facebook junkie.  I consider it my morning news, my afternoon conversation, and an easy way to stay sane so I don’t end up just talking to myself all day long.  It also makes a great gossip column, not to mention a nearly effortless way of reconnecting with old friends and new acquaintances. But with every simplicity in life comes some other form of inconvenience, and for all of the hours I spend on social networking, it only took me a minute to figure out the main downfall of this new-fangled way of interaction. For all the communicating, it makes you actually miss people.  Mostly, I miss the face-to-face conversation, the laughter, and the emotion that inspired friendship in the first place.  Before the days of logging on to get the latest scoop or see a recent picture of a friend’s child, I used to meet my friends and chat over coffee while dishing the news and sharing a smile. Now I brew myself a pot and hunker down with my laptop in the lonely

Guilty thoughts of squirty cheese and Kool-Aid

***I realize now that I've written this that I what I thought was Cheez Whiz is really called Easy Cheese or Ready Cheese or something like that.  No need for squirty cheese connoisseurs to correct me.  I am obviously a novice, and stand corrected. km I really do try to be a decent parent because when it comes to my children, I know that their general health and their behavior are the direct result of the upbringing my husband and I muddle through. I correct their grammar.  I watch their language.  I encourage good moral character and am constantly forcing upon them such things as exercise, education, and healthy eating habits.  Generally speaking, it’s exhausting.  Parenting would be a much easier job if I didn’t give a hoot about how clean their bodies, mouths, and minds were.  I may not be so drained at the end of each day if I let them just eat French fries and didn’t check their homework.  But I do give a hoot and so it goes that by the time they are tucked

Taking time to stop and see the miracles

Pre-pupate It’s a typical scene around this place. I’ve got a to-do list a mile long.   I’m sure one of my kids is going to be low on underwear for lack of clean laundry, and twice this week we’ve eaten hotdogs and frozen vegetables.   I don’t even need to mention that there is homework to check and columns to write. But they all have been pushed aside for the good, because this week my life has been centered around one thing: a caterpillar.   And I don’t even mind it’s poo that stained a piece of furniture. A few days ago while practicing the fine art of being children, my kids were playing in the yard.   Footballs were thrown, someone made a craft from some tall grasses, and I was busy cleaning the kitchen and missing it all.   (Motherhood: if ever there was a time for maid or a clone…)   Suddenly my son came in, yelling.   “Mom!   We found an awesome caterpillar!”   Being a self-proclaimed nature nut, I dropped everything and ran out.   And there it wa