Monday, November 29, 2010

Can you tell?

Is it obvious we decorated for Christmas this weekend?

The kids are oozing with holiday excitement.
Christmas is coming, and they know it.
A very special, magical, time for each of the kids. They blissfully trimmed the tree, hung stockings, set up a train, and sang Christmas songs yesterday.
They haven't been preoccupied with gifts, toys, or lists to Santa however. For us, that's even more magical.
Shamefully, it wasn't until last night when I went to check on the kids before bed,
that I pulled out the camera.
I had to. Of all the moments that caught my eye during the day, perhaps this one was the most dear.
May all your Christmas dream come true!
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to All of our Family and Friends!
We Miss you!
Sadly, we don't celebrate with turkey here- it wouldn't fit in our oven. The kids are in school today and routine is as normal. Knowing everyone at home is gathered and feasting, makes us a little homesick to be honest. Have a slice of pie for us and know that we are thinking of you! Enjoy the day!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Best Anniversary Gift thus far...

-A dog biscuit making kit.
-Travel Bingo cards.
-An Iron.
-An over sized brown wool sweater which made me look like a giant turd.
-A tablecloth.

These are some of the gifts my dear husband has chosen to give me over the years at various celebrations- anniversary, birthday, Christmas. I told him awhile ago, it’d be better if he just picked out a card.
He’s come a long way, because for our last anniversary he bought me a ticket to a day long photography workshop. That workshop was yesterday. The deal was all inclusive. He’d watch the kids, take them to violin lessons, feed them, prep for a friend sleeping over, and make dinner, while I spent the day playing with my camera. For this anniversary, I gave him slippers.
Let’s just say I thought I got the better end of the deal this year.

I was the youngest by far and the only female in the class. Most everyone else there enjoyed landscape photography, except for the guy who specialized in photographing fungi. (no kidding- there are apparently fungi photographers out there. ) So when I announced that I simply like to take photos of kids and family, they marked me as a young chick who should probably use a point n shoot. I hate to say it out loud. I hate to admit it, but I’m pretty sure these gents didn’t think I could operate a spoon, let alone a digital SLR Nikon. I felt like I had fallen back into the 1940s and shown up with an apron tied around my waist.

It was clear, there was a lot of testosterone in the room. Clearer yet, when the gentleman wearing suspenders in front of me popped open his laptop to produce a screen saver in which a woman in a black thong left her big breasts bumping into all of his screen’s icons. (By the way, dear sir, I don’t mean to be a prude, but that’s just downright ugly. That woman needs to put on a proper bra and put her boobies back where they belong- not around the icon you click to open up Internet explorer. Might I recommend that perhaps one of your very beautiful landscape scenes would do nicely instead?)

Just before the class began, the same gentleman, who looked like Alfred Hitchcock after 2 too many servings of kidney pie, pulled out what appeared to be a large lens from his camera bag. I was behind him and couldn’t see too well. He took the lens cover off and all the older men around him laughed hysterically. Then it became clear- he was displaying a coffee mug which looked like a lens. At this moment I began to think the workshop would turn out to be as fun as a dog biscuit making kit.

Over the course of the day, about 9 hours of workshop talk, the tempo picked up and slowed from time to time. I admit, I learned a few things, but not as much as I would have liked. As I told the instructor early on, I was there because I have trouble getting enough light and hence sharp images. ‘Overcast skies, inside shots, dark areas tend to be a big problem for me and I really think I need to invest in a 2:8 lens- or lower if prime‘. To be frank, dear husband was hoping for me to learn in the workshop that in fact, no more lenses are needed. He hoped that I’d realize I simply don’t know how to work my camera. Turns out, this is not the case. Thank goodness. I believe it’s time honey, to start budgeting for a new lens. One that will allow for more light.

Additionally there was a lot of talk about photo shop, post processing, digital editing, light room, and HDR manipulation. I don’t have photo shop. In fact I don’t have any editing software really. (Wish I had, but so far it hasn’t been in the cards). They argued away . Philosophizing on post processing, they declared that it’s ok to creatively edit photos as long as you’re not a journalist. “Painters have done it since the beginning of time!” one man justified. “If the queen wanted her buns to be smaller, the painter made them smaller.” Man alive, I began to wonder if they could explain away the world’s problems with photo shop. It just seemed like cheating, All too fraudulent to me.

Then they wandered into discussion of why a tripod investment is good. For the same price as one of their tripods I could buy three tractors. They advised that carbon fiber tripods are a "must" as carrying around an entire 2kg of weight in a tripod all day would just make you "miserable". I had to ponder what the heck they'd do if they had to haul a stroller, diaper bag, 3 lunch boxes and a 'bun bun' around. Obviously, their version of wildlife photography and mine are miles apart. Listening to the others spew their wealth of knowledge on photography made me turn around to see if Alex Trebek was in the room. There was so much know how going on it was hard to tell who was instructing at times.

In the end, I am grateful for dear Matt to have been so thoughtful with the workshop. So kind to offer a day off from the kids, errands, violin lessons, homework, sleep over preparations, and dinner. In the end, I was glad to add a few feathers to the plumed hat. The tricks and tips were handy, even if they were few and far between. I was glad to not have to sit behind suspenders guy and his nasty screen saver anymore.
Most of all though, I was grateful to come home to this….

They missed me and I missed them too. That’s what made this anniversary gift the best ever!
Thanks babe.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"I am not a Kleenex. Thank you.", and other things I've muttered as a mother

“I am not a Kleenex. Thank you.”
At that moment a journal entry began with randomly jotted notes of things that fly off the tongue in the heat of battle with offspring. The things I never thought I’d say. Ever.
A mom at school was chatting yesterday about how her neighbors are expecting their first baby. We giggled. We laughed. We chuckled. ...What those neighbors don't know!
The day our first was born. Ahhhh. What we didn’t know was, perhaps, good for us.

But it wasn't long before I found myself uttering phrases I never imagined. Life had changed from spewing side effects, dosing directions, and interactions to complete strangers as a pharmacist, into a full blown identity crisis as a mom. I'd gone from slinging Ritalin and Pepcid into prescription bottles to slinging peanut butter and jelly onto whatever I could find.

The following list is muttered over and over in our household, unfortunately. There is a running list of these comments kept in the house and we add to it every so often.
Here are a few of the most common ‘favorites’.

~ Please remove your finger from your nose.

~ Take that off of your head, a diaper is not a hat.

~ No, he doesn’t have a baby in his belly.

~ Get off the dog, Dudley is not a horse.

~ The violin is not a guitar.

~ Please stop licking the floor.

~You can’t just pee on anyone’s car, only pee on our car.

~ Please stop sucking your toe.

~ That's not the neighbor's sandbox, it’s kitty litter. We don’t play in it.

~ Please stop licking your brother.

~ Dog treats are only for dogs. People treats are for people.

~ No, it’s not ok to touch his penis.

~ Peanut butter is not paint.

~ Pennies do not go in the CD player. It is not a bank.

~ Get your teeth off of his arm please.

~ Please do not touch Miss Katherine’s boobies. That is rude.

~ Whoo-hoo! He peed the bathtub!

~ Please don’t drink the bathwater.

~ Speak to me in English, not French.

~ Fine, fight with your sister, just do it in French.

~ Batteries don’t go in the VCR. Thank you.

~ The computer mouse is not a race car. Give it back.

~ Yes, underwear is necessary.

~ Yes all the mannequins have boobies. Now put her shirt down.

~ Mustard is not a drink.

~ No, you may not jump on your brother’s back.

~ Those blankets are not for making slip n slide on the floor. Please put them back.

~ Goodest is not a word.

~ No you may not use your sister’s toothbrush.

Perhaps though, it is the things they say that are the keenest.
(Of course, those are noted those as well.)
Here are a few for fun…

“Please don’t touch my boobies Emory. Some day they are going to go out”.

"I'm not Catholic. I'm vegetarian."

“Mom, when did we meet?”

“Mom, when you are young again, you can have some of my toys.”

“The chair is not a sliding board, is it?” I asked. “No“ Emory said, “it’s better for a trampoline.”

Some day, I very well may return to the safety of a pharmacy. For now however, I am left to my own devices and 4 young animals children. Who knows what mother will mutter next?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chalkboard Paint

May I make a suggestion? Do you have something flat in your home that needs a little update? A new twist?

May I recommend chalkboard paint?
Available at your local hardware store, or the supplies to mix and tint your own colors, ( for Martha's know how and other ideas click here) this stuff is a blast. Just as it sounds- paint yourself a chalkboard- anywhere, any color anytime. Just try it! You can always paint over it if you don’t like it.

The update to this playroom table has been well worth the sanding and a few layers of paint. With a new lease on life the kids have found all sorts of uses for their new chalkboard tabletop, from games of tic-tac-toe, to homework problems, and messages to family.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

She's Broken

She came to me in the kitchen in tears. I knew it was coming, and I still hadn't figured out how to deal with her. Her painful expression and tears streaming down her cheeks, a crystal reflection of her broken heart, as she swaddled the porcelain 10 inch doll in her arms.
"Who broke my doll mom? Do you know? Who did it? Did Stella?... Arleigh?.. Emory? Who was it? She's broken! She's gone forever!"

She was wailing.
I was shaking.

This doll had a headache, and now I do too.
It would have been so much easier to lie. To say Arleigh did it. No one blames that kid. He's the youngest, a toddler, and forever a loved baby around here. Or, I could have lied and said I didn't know how it happened, but I didn't think I could do it. After all, I knew exactly who broke the doll.
How can I teach our children to be honest if I lie to them? I want to remind her of this moment when she's 16 and I need truth.
So I told her the truth.
"I did it Addie. I dropped her. I didn't know how to tell you, and was still thinking up a good way to apologize. I'm so sorry." I restrained from passing blame, holding off on a reminder that I'd asked her to take the doll to her room the previous night.
She went stumbling out of the kitchen, doll in her arms, still devastated, as if the truth only hurt more. I think we both would have been happy for at least a moment, to have blamed the toddler.

How could I have done this? Mom's aren't supposed to break the beautiful porcelain face of your baby dolls!? Addie retreated to my bed, where I let her cry for awhile, until I could approach again." Addie, I'm so sorry. We'll try our best to replace her."
"But she can't be replaced. The jewel on her dress is the same as on the necklace of my other doll, mom. They belong together. They are meant to be together". Again- the waterworks were set on full throttle. My heart sank even further. I knew that the other doll, the long lost friend, came from a lady at a flea market here in Belgium. For 5 euro Addie bought herself a world of happiness this summer when she picked out a second doll- a forever friend of the first. A perfect match simply because she spotted the exact same jewel on the flea market doll as the one she had at home- the one that was now cuddled in her arms, and broken.

My conscience must have been working in a sinister mood, because again, I contemplated the possibility of purchasing a doll with the same features, changing the clothing overnight so that she seemed miraculously fixed, and pitching the broken doll- never to again been seen.
But no. Addie would know. Besides, that's not fair- just another lie.

Perhaps the doll should disappear, I considered. Just one day, she would go away and not return. That might be easier, at least after a few days of pretend searching. But I'm not one to play freaky ax murderer. No. If the goal is to raise honest, respectable kids, then I've gotta be honest. At least try.
So now. This doll has a headache, and so do I.

As penance for my sin, I've spent countless hours this week online staring at doll faces. Comparing sizes, manufacturers, hair, and features has left me clueless as to where she was made. She was purchased by a friend in a second hand store (see and there are no markings on the doll with the exception of some writing on one shoe.I researched doll doctors, doll stores, doll collectors, in hopes of finding some sort of solution or at least a speck of information on her. But nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Over the course of the week, Addie handled the situation as well as she could, trying to grieve in her own way. She carried the doll around with shards of porcelain wrapped in a blanket. Occasionally she offered an 'it's ok mom'. But her olive branch only made me feel more guilty. Meanwhile I dream about doll faces and continue to use minimal free time to hunt online for a similar doll. If I had three wishes in life, I think right now I'd use one to repair the doll. Addie seems to have learned a valuable life lesson as well. 'You have to take care of the things you care about, because sometimes, those things just can't be replaced.' as she put it.

If time heals all wounds, I can only hope that the doll's headache and my consequential headache, will heal in time too. Somehow, even if by a little magic.
So now, I'm researching a time machines online. Anything to speed up the healing time.

PS- if you know this doll, or her manufacturer, or anything of the like,
can you please put me out of my misery  let me know?  Thanks!

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Salt Dough Ornaments

The week has been productive. If fall house cleaning and Christmas crafting is considered productive.
Matt has taken a week of leave to be home with us while the kids are off school for the "All Souls Holiday".
We decided to try a new craft this year for Arleigh to give as his gift. Salt dough ornaments.
Quick, easy, and the kids thought it was a ton of fun.

Here's the recipe if you're looking for an easy, quick, cheap, craft that could be used most any time of the year...
Salt Dough Ornaments
4 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1-1/2 cups of hot water
holiday cookie cutters
decorations - glitter, paint, beads, etc.

1. One and a half times the dough recipe featured above is enough to make all the ornaments shown on our table in the photos, plus some extras. You will also need paint in red, green, white, and gold, plus glitter and trims such as beads, stars, pom poms, ribbon, and pipe cleaners.

2. Use Christmas cookie cutters to cut a variety of Christmas (or seasonal) figures. We made stars, gingerbread men, Christmas trees, stockings etc. Use a toothpick to make a hole for hanging, being sure to make the hole a larger than you will want as the hole will close a bit when baking.

3. Using a microwave-safe plate (not paper or cardboard), arrange the ornaments and keep them from touching. Microwave a plate of your ornaments for 1 to 4 minutes, increasing the time by 1 minute increments and keeping a close eye on the microwave as the ornaments bake. Microwave power levels differ greatly, so use high power in a less-powerful oven, but lower it if your oven tends to heat things very quickly. Our microwave took about 7 minutes per plate. Once we figured out how much time it took to dry a plate, the rest were done quickly. Let the ornaments cool completely before decorating.

They were really into this. Can you tell?
For those friends and family reading the blog, you'll just have to wait til Christmas to see what the rest of the kids crafted up. No peeking!
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Honey could you...?

He says he was giving Arleigh a hairdo to mimic the 80s band "Flock of Seagulls".
Next time I need the carpet vacuumed, I think I'll just do it myself.

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3 down 1 to go, they fall like dominoes

Why is it that when one kid gets sick, the rest of them fall like dominoes?
Addie last week, then Arleigh, then Emory...
We spent Thursday and Friday at home together, playing dominoes all day, as his fever was 104* and he was miserable (which makes me miserable).
By 3pm I considered the doc office, knowing the holiday weekend would be long and tough if his fever didn’t let up. But the office was closed. A conversation with an on call nurse led us to the ER. He left there convinced the “hole” in his hand from the blood draw might never seal up. He also left with an Rx for antibiotics and a diagnosis of Scarlet Fever.

So, 3 of 4 down- one to go. What will she come up with? I can’t imagine and am bracing to find out.

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