Since we won't be here this weekend, we put our Christmas tree this past weekend.
Elizabeth had a blast. For every three ornaments we hung on the tree, she ran off with one. She has a secret stash somewhere, I just haven't found it yet.
She also spent a fair amount of time saying cheese, wanting me to take her picture. I have a couple dozen more pretty much just like these. How can you turn down a kid saying cheese?
Jacob was not as enthusiastic.
Apparently it is not fun Or cool to decorate a Christmas tree with your parents when you are SEVEN! Seriously? I got only six fun family ornament hangings with him? I feel gipped.
Thank goodness I had my cheesy girl to make me feel better about it.
Adam missed it all together because he chose to spend the weekend with his grandparents. But because I love him too and don't want to leave him out, even if we did have super family you're-causing-me-to-miss-Ben10 fun without him, here he is:
Christmas in November. Not how I planned it, but ready for it anyway.
I found this one while cleaning out my draft file and simultaneously flipping through football games yesterday. I swore I'd posted this way back when, but well, I was suffering from severe sleep deprivation. Since I am woefully at a loss for good posting material, I'll take a cue from Aunt Becky and revisit the past.....
Has anyone ever regretted their child's name?
I am beginning to wonder about Elizabeth....it's so long, so many letters, and takes forever to roll off the tongue.
You can't easily make up songs in the middle of the night with it. It doesn't work with the Name Game song either.
You start to think you may have chosen a clunker when the grandparents start calling her by her middle name.
Elizabeth is a beautiful name, but is it really my kid's name?
How did we come up with our baby's name you ask?
It wasn't easy.
As you know we struggled with that issue throughout the pregnancy. I thought I would go with the first two names I came up with, Lorelei and Noah, but the husband despised those names. I would come up with one I thought was wonderful only to have husband nix it because he could make a stupid nickname with it or someone else down the family line already owned it. It was very frustrating. I, in turn, nixed most of his names because, well, they were just ugly AND he had the audacity to suggest Heather, thinking I would not remember the time when we first started dating and he drove the ten hours to the beach to visit me only to stop off in Richmond for a quickie with "his friend" Heather. Yeah, let's name her Heather.
One weekend as we were traveling to the lake, Derick and I spent the entire three hours going over the name book, both boy and girls, and Jacob piped up from the back seat that he wanted Jordan for a boy (absolutely not) and Elizabeth for a girl. The husband was so sick of rehashing the whole scene that he decided he loved the name Elizabeth and why hadn't we thought of it before (he agreed with me about Jordan, sorry Jordan lovers). I, ready to move on to boy names thinking it was much more relevant, said okay and that was that.
Fast forward a couple months and I am still searching for a boy name. I sat down with husband one night to rehash it and for whatever reason I decided I wasn't too keen on Elizabeth after all and that we should just completely start over and find something we absolutely loved without a doubt. Husband still expressed his love for Elizabeth but agreed to look at anything I came up with....ditto boy name. So, I narrowed my list to variations of these names:
And eventually went with Ethan Samuel and Rachel Erinn. Obviously husband didn't agree with me. After much discussion, we then agreed on Nathaniel Peyton (to be called Nate) and Laura Elizabeth (to be called Laura Beth). So we tried on those names for a few weeks and decided we didn't like those so much either because Nathaniel was taken by some cousins and friends and, well, it felt too creepy to call our child Laura everyday (although idiot husband told sister we were using that name and now she is mad at me for not using it, whole other story), so we were back to square one.
Two days before Elizabeth's birth husband came in while I was watching Letterman (do not disturb during top ten list, geez) and let me know that he just really felt in his heart that we were having a girl and that he continued to see the name Elizabeth all kinds of places, like the news and The View and to him it was a sign that it was to be her name, so I agreed I would think about it but I still wanted to pack the name list in my bag and wait to see what she (or he) looked like. I did find it strange, though, when I woke up from what little sleep I got the morning of the birth and the song "Beth" by Kiss was tooling around my brain. Have you ever had that happen? What was even creepier, was that the same song came on the radio halfway to the hospital. Cue The Twillight Zone music please.
But anyway, after she was born and I got a good look at her, I felt she was a Rachel. Husband swore she was an Elizabeth. So, just like her brothers before her, she went nameless her first day of life, although unbeknownst to me, husband had already told everyone at work and church that her name was Elizabeth Laura.....gee thanks for letting me have some input dude. Of course, the next day was Friday and the birth registry lady came through to finish the birth certificate papers and she needed a name by 4 p.m. because, of course, she wasn't working over the weekend. I was still holding out for Rachel and he was still holding out for Elizabeth. It was a struggle of wills, I tell you, and I still think that after being cut open three times that I should have hand in that situation, but in the end we decided to go with our trusty formula used the other two times. We just put our choices together. The reason Elizabeth won out as the first name is because Adam won out as the first name last time, which was my choice and that's how we came up with our only daughter's name.
I guess it's too late to change it once the announcements have gone out right?
So there you have it, Elizabeth. When you're a teenager and want to change your name to Soleil or something equally "cool". You have proof that Elizabeth was NOT my idea so you can quit rolling your eyes at me.
She arrived two days later than planned due to a train derailment that delayed her connection. My husband even looked at me funny when he heard that news and I assure you all, I DID NOT have anything to do with that. I did look at him funny when he informed me that his mother would not be smoking while she was here because she'd told him she'd quit months ago. Weird, but the weekly letters she mails stink up our mailbox. Maybe it's the postman? But she's his MOM, she would never lie to him!
She was here a whole hour before she approached ME, away from HIM, to beg pitifully and pull the sick old woman card ask if she could smoke because how dare I assume she could go so long without one? The husband grinned at me beside his grill through the kitchen windows and I figured they'd concocted that one.
"I don't care if you smoke, Mom, but you need to ask Andria because her head will spin and she will rake my privates over these coals if I say it's okay. Make her feel like shit about it. Go ahead."
And that's when I started calculating just how much I'd have to make to afford this mortgage all on my own. And, well, I can't.
So I smiled, told her how I felt about my kids and secondhand smoke, told her I really didn't want her too, but if she really had to, we had a patio. And a park across the street. And I left it at that while my blood boiled.
That's how Martha Stewart would've handled it. Right?
And WOW, that was the first time I'd seen the monster-in-law smile since she walked through our doors. Oh, the joy over slowly feeding us nicotine and tar! So she went outside to smoke. And I swear, my husband's head started to spin.
"But Mom, you said you'd quit. You said you wouldn't smoke AT ALL. You swore this would not be an issue. Where did those cigarettes come from? Did you just buy them or did you BRING THEM WITH YOU?"
Because, duh, she totally brought them with her. Because, you know, she doesn't smoke anymore. You're the one who fell for that one, man.
Tell her NO! NO, you won't allow our children to be exposed to the carcinogens! Tell her she can stay at a motel if she insists on smoking! She LIED to you! You're not going to put up with that are you????
But no, she's smoking on the porch. And lucky me, because I can't tolerate the smell of smoke, she's been very kind to cover it up with three different scents of perfume. I know it's just coincidental that two of them trigger migraines for me, but surely she can't remember that little conversation we had when she bought the crap last year.
After two solid days of the migraine from hell, the husband did finally ask her to lay off the drugstore cologne, but it's too late. It's in our furniture, our carpet, Adam's room and his closet full of clothes. I found an old bottle of Fe*reeze in the garage and that has helped, but now when you open the door instead of that lovely new house smell, you're hit with White Diamonds Avec Smoky Air Freshener and you swear you're at the bingo hall down the street.
Martha Stewart probably wouldn't tell her guest to quit their perfume would she?
What burns me the most, though, is that EVERY time she wants to smoke she shuffles right on over to ME, right in front of her perfect son, and looks me right in the eye and asks me if it's okay if she has a cigarette. And she always adds how she's gone as long as she possibly can without one and she wouldn't ask if she weren't about to be sick without it. And it's always up to me. Isn't that polite and considerate? Her son looks at me as if to say, "I dare you. I dare you to tell MY MOTHER that she can't do something that she so obviously needs to do. Go ahead. Let me watch you try." To which I have to reply, "Sure, L, go right ahead. Would you like to snuff it out in my open hand when you're done, too? And everyone smiles and everyone's happy and life is good again in our home sweet home.
Until last night when she went out at 1 a.m. setting off the alarm and my husband thought we were being burglarized.
She can thank me later for keeping the husband from getting his gun.
And for being considerate and polite about her feelings and not shoving that lighter up her ass for waking us all up like that. How nice it was for her to be able to go right to sleep after that while I was up until 5 a.m. with my adrenaline pumping and getting kids back to sleep.
But, you know, I'm a bad hostess for not indulging my guest's addiction to cigarettes. I should be more tolerant and accepting and truly understand her need to light up twenty times a day, because, you know, I've never walked a mile in her shoes, yada, yada, yada. Nevermind that she totally LIED about her freaking cigarette addiction before she got here. Nevermind that she agreed without hesitation to NOT. SMOKE. AT. ALL.
We had a dog when I was growing up. An old black mutt that just showed up one Sunday morning while I was in second grade. My parents were not going to keep that dog, no way, no how, but three weeks later my mom was making sure it had water every morning. Two weeks after that she picked up a bag of food to add to that. Somewhere down the line a flea collar was purchased "only because we don't want fleas near our house". We were told not to name her because she was not our dog, but when we took her to the vet two years later for vaccinations, "just in case", my mom said she was Baby, because we always called her Baby.
Baby was there when Granny died. She eased the transition from Texas to West Virginia. She weathered many a sad high school break up with me. She was always the first to greet me when I returned from college. I loved that dog.
One winter day when I was in graduate school, I returned from work to see my mom sitting in her car in my apartment parking lot. I knew why she was there before she ever made it out of the car. Baby got sick. She could no longer walk. She cried a lot. My parents couldn't watch her suffer anymore so they they put her down. My mom drove three hours immediately to me, my dad drove four hours immediately to my sister. They didn't want to tell us over the phone. My mom and I cried for two days straight. I am guessing my sister and my dad did too.
Going home after that was strange. No wagging tail to great me at the car door. No lumpy dog to sit under my feet. No one to sneak food to under the table. We talked about another dog, but no one was ready for that. We already had the best dog ever, how in the world could we love another one like that?
But we'd never had a cat. We never loved a cat before. Maybe that would be good. But the parents were againstit. They never wanted another animal again. They just die and make you cry and you can't go on vacation on a whim! No, no animals!
So on a rare day off, I had nothing to do, no friends in my college town for the summer, so I spent ten minutes thinking that I really needed a cat for company and found the animal shelter in Morgantown and went looking for a sweet, yellow cat.
I found one too. So pretty, that cat. I wanted that yellow cat.
But the volunteer was crying. Sobbing, actually. She wanted me to look at a different cat. Plllleeeaassseee would I look at this other cat? The other cat she was taking to the back room? The other cat who would be put to sleep in forty minutes that the volunteer couldn't take home with her because her husband was already mad about the twelve other cats she'd taken home with her?
Ten minutes later I was driving down the road with a kitten clinging to my neck. Because, you know, I'd never had a cat before and didn't know she could just climb right out of that cardboard box I'd brought.
On June 1, 1993, I brought Haley home. She was not yellow. She was not sweet. She was black. She was tiny. She never meowed. She never purred. She would jump out from under the bed and bite my ankles. She nipped at my ears while I slept. She erased messages from my answering machine and killed the fish in the fish tank. But she had the most beautiful green eyes I'd ever seen. And she was always waiting for me at the door when I came home. I liked that.
When I moved to Virginia to start "My Life", I lived in an apartment that didn't allow pets, so I left her with my parents until I could buy a house and bring her home. Nine months later, my parents brought her to me as promised, but I sent her back after seeing how attached she was to them. She was sweet to them. For two people who'd complained incessantly about being saddled with a cat, they seemed pretty happy to be going back with her.
So a few months later I got my own cat. My parents were enjoying "their" cat. After years of being dog people, we were suddenly cat people.
But as animals always do, they age. They get old. Haley did too. She lost some weight. Her bones became brittle. Her hair became matted because she was too tired to clean it. She got picky with her food. She didn't run from the kids anymore because she could barely hear them. But she was still Haley. Her green eyes still sparkled. She still ran to the door when I came, just a little slower. She was okay.
But she really wasn't.
Haley died two days ago.
We don't know if something was wrong with her or if she just got old.
I am voting for old because my parents feel bad enough about it already.
Either way, she lived fifteen more years than she would have if I hadn't been bored and impulsive one summer afternoon.
If you own a dog and are currently paying $240 bucks a year for monthly flea pills, just know that flea pills DO NOT kill or prevent fleas. That cute little puppy at the summer camp is liar! I know this is fact because A. We have fleas. and B. A call to the vet confirmed that it's not completely effective if you do things like take your dog outside. Seriously.
Me: "I think my animals have fleas and I'm wondering how that's possible since he's been taking a flea pill for, oh, about five years now." Vet Tech: "Does Ezra go outside?" Me: "Uh, yeah. Sometimes." Vet Tech: "Is he walked?" Me: "Uh, yeah. Sometimes." Vet Tech: "Then you run the risk of him getting some fleas." Me: "But he's taking that flea pill that was recommended for him." Vet Tech: "uh-huh" Me: "Shouldn't he NOT have fleas?" Vet Tech: "Well.....Does he go outside?" Me: "Yeah" Vet Tech: "Then that's where he got the fleas."
I'm still waiting for her to call me back with the information about the so-called miracle pill that will rid my dog AND my cat of this foulness because did you also know that flea powders, flea shampoos, and flea collars sold at the big red store of goodness do not work. Oh no. I'd just be wasting my money on those things. They need a pill. Because, you know, those pills worked so well for them before.
I remember Election Night 2000. I was pregnant with Jacob. We had Hooters for dinner because all I could eat until Christmas that year was hot wings. Then I spent the rest of the night monitoring contractions thus beginning my odyssey into pre-term labor. Fun.
On Election Night 2004, I was pregnant with Adam. Jacob had his first hot dog for dinner that night. Two hours later we all met the hot dog again on his sheets, his floor, his wall. More fun times.
On Election Night 2008, I was home alone with three kids who had maneuvered themselves into the pantry and on top of the highest shelf to feed themselves Halloween candy while I was sprawled out on the cool, cool tile of the bathroom floor puking every fifteen minutes.
Election Night does not agree with me, apparently.
In fact, I did not even know who won until I woke up this morning.
And I guess I could write an entire soliliquy about the entire event, but you can find all kinds of takes on it all over the web today, and plus I have bigger things on my mind today.
My mother-in-law is coming tomorrow.
She arranged her trip, paid her money, hopped on a train, all without running it by us first. Well, at least that's the husband's story and he's sticking to it.
She left a series of strange voice mails detailing her trip arrangements while we were at the lake a couple weeks ago. When she knew we'd be at the lake. When she knew we wouldn't get her calls. When she could just do whatever and we could just accept it because she couldn't get her money back. She'll be here tomorrow and she's staying until November 23. Or maybe the the 15th. It changes everytime she calls. Which is a lot. I do love Caller Id.
In case you missed last year's installment, my mother-in-law hates me. Well, all my in-laws do, but she's the only who thinks it's her God given right to show up here whenever she pleases. I have no idea why she comes. She spends the first half-hour acting like she loves the kids but when times up she sets about her "vacation" which is too park herself at the table with our telephone and call everyone she knows every single day to let them know "Can you believe she br*astfeeds that baby?", "She cooks the strangest meals, all I want is a pot of beans. I'd give anything for a pot of beans.", and my all time favorite, "They are beautiful children. Thank goodness they all look like Derick."
But you know the biggest reason I dread her visits?
She smokes. Oh, sure, sure, she'll smoke on the patio. She'll give me the evil eye while she's doing it, but she'll go out to the patio because the husband lets her know just how much I hate it. Never mind that he hates it too, it's really just my problem because then he'd have to disagree with his mom about something and we can't have that can we? What a monster I am to want to shield my children from all that tar and nicotine that could potentially give them cancer one day! So, yeah, she'll smoke her pack and a half a day outside, but when she comes back in she reeks. And her clothes reek. And then my furniture reeks. And then my daughter's room will stink because all her stuff stinks.
You know what I love? When I walk into my house it still has that new house smell. I've never had new house smell before. I love me some new house smell. I'll be trading new house smell for sleazy bar smell in just a matter of days. My heart is breaking.
Another November. Another eventful election. Another Mother-in-law visit.
We had a nice time. It was a beautiful day, all day.
We finally fixed our pumpkin. The lazy way.
We had a picnic lunch.
And then Adam camped out on the bathroom floor for a while between pukes. There's not much sadder than a kid vomiting in a festive costume.
Poor kid. He always gets the short end of the stick. Middle child AND sick on Halloween.
I am sure the right thing to do there would've been to cancel Halloween and replaced it with some other fun activity like, say, sipping mugs of chicken soup, but you try telling your candy-deprived, costume-clad youngsters that trick-or-treat is over.
And he seemed better.
So we went anyway.
Good thing I was swayed to buy that extra costume. Optimus Prime became Bumblebee, a new sort of Transformer I guess, and we were on our way.
We circled our side of the neighborhood. We got tons and tons of really good candy. There were 100 Grands. And Butterfingers. And lots and lots of Snickers bars. No crappy candy here.
Elizabeth was in heaven. Slobbery, sticky, heaven.
And we met a lot of the neighbors. Nice people.
And all was right with the world.
Until right about the time Daylight Savings Time ended.
Adam was suddenly sick again. More vomit. High fever.
And he's still sick.
And now I'm sick. And the husband is flying out of town tomorrow morning. Joy.
And we spread our joy throughout the entire neighborhood.
All my life I thought I'd be the perfect mother. I even majored in it. I aced all the child development classes I took toward my degree in, wait for it, Early Childhood Development and Elementary Education.
And then they were born. First Jacob, who is 8, then Adam, who is 4, and our biggest surprise, Elizabeth who is 2.
As much as I really wanted to be, I am finding out I am no June Cleaver. For starters, The Beav never had a baby sister.