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October 2005
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December 2005

This kid.

HkindypicHe tests my patience. He drives me crazy. He is full of newfound attitude. He is a constant source of amusement and entertainment. He is sweet to his little sister. He adores his dad. He tolerates me. He gets obsessed with the strangest things. He has "future MIT geek" written all over him. He tells me he wants to live at the taekwondo school so Miss Gleisner can be his mom and Mr Dominguez can be his dad. He is so very tall and lanky. He still believes me when I tell him I have a magic spell over the Christmas closet and if he looks in it before the holiday all his presents will disappear. He could eat Muenster cheese ("Monster" cheese in his lingo) all day long. On that note, he'll eat quesadillas, enchiladas, satays, pakora, chili, asparagus, cranberry relish, and spinach but he won't touch fries or a cheeseburger with a ten foot pole. And he says his favorite meal ever is Mom's Chicken Corn Chowder or Chicken Noodles. Good kid.

He's beautiful. He's smart beyond his years. He's goofy. He's slapstick. He's 110% BOY. He's enthusiastic. He sleeps well at night. His teacher praises his attitude, his manners, and his intelligence. He is tolerant of all my picture-taking, and must have learned something because look how great he smiled on school picture day! He will always be special and amazing to me because he is my firstborn, the one who made me a mommy. And because he is a boy, he will never truly, fully understand just how much I love him.


The best laid plans ...

I've been trying to get Harper in for her eight-month photos for the past two weeks but something always comes up and makes me reschedule. Yesterday I had to cancel an appointment I'd made for an afternoon shoot, but the lady said an opening just became available for this morning at 10 a.m. - prime photo real estate!! So I snatched up the time slot and wrote it on the calendar.

This morning we got up, said goodbye to Marc's family as they headed back to Indiana, then I got Harp dressed and we took off at 9:40. At 9:45 we were on the on-ramp of the highway and saw the traffic at a complete stand still. Just under the overpass I'd just crossed was a major accident and it was too late for me to turn around. So Harper and I sat there, just yards from freedom, and didn't move an inch for 40 minutes. You can imagine her attitude by the time we got moving again. So once again we headed home, no photos to speak of, and will have to reschedule.

However, I figured that crabby mood be damned, she was already dressed, my camera was handy, and I had black backdrop fabric in the closet - I'd just try myself! She sat for about two minutes but I got nary a grin. Then she decided she'd had enough and was out of there. My photos were less than happy and full of holiday cheer. The one that would have been cute was inadvertantly focused on her dress, not her face. Oh well. Guess I'll call the studio tomorrow, apologize profusely, and see if I can manage to get Harper squeezed in this week.

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What did YOU do last night?

So, have I ever mentioned that Henry sleepwalks? Usually when he really has to go to the bathroom but can't wake up enough to get himself there. He ends up wandering until we direct him to the toilet and help him go. Usually we make it. Sometimes we don't. The kid drinks too much at night and sleeps too hard. It's a problem.

Tonight was a whole new level, though.

Marc and I were downstairs watching Lost and I heard footsteps. I told Marc Henry was up. He said, "Huh." I said maybe he should go check to see if H was sleepwalking again so he didn't pee his pants. (I was at the computer ... Marc was just sitting there and could get up to H faster than I could.)

So he went up, I heard him and Henry a little, then he came back down. And he was laughing so hard there were tears in his eyes.

What, I ask.
You're gonna want your camera, says he.
Why, I ask.
Henry sleepwalked again ... but you've gotta see where he peed.

(Catch that? "Where he peed." Three words that are never good.)

Marc said he went upstairs and noticed immediately that the fridge door was open. He looked and Henry was standing in front of the fridge, eyes closed. Marc said, "What are you doing?" but H never opened his eyes. Then Marc noticed H's pants were down and the crisper drawer was open.

Yes.

My son sleepwalked into the kitchen, opened the fridge, dropped trou, opened the veggie drawer, and relieved himself. Completely. He was mid-stream so Marc had to just let him go.

Oh. My. Goodness.

So we had to empty out the crisper, throw away everything, clean and disinfect the lower half of the fridge and floor. Laughing all the way.

At least we laughed.

No more drinks for H after dinner. Ever.
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Why I'll never be onboard Political Correctness

Being PC is ruining the holidays. Seriously.

Think back to when you were a kid: Christmas parties at school, a Christmas program at which you sang "Joy to the World" and "Up on a Housetop" for your parents while wearing your new holiday finery, maybe even a visit from Santa at the end.

But those days are gone. Now schools have "winter parties" because heaven forbid we exclude or offend the Jewish kids and black kids and atheist kids and Satanic kids and Wiccan kids and so on. Kids can play games about snow or ... snow, but anything with Santa? Any music that might refer to the birth of Jesus? Any snacks that imply any sort of holiday affiliation of any kind? And what do the kids do who live in areas that don't get snow? They got nothin'.

It's such a shame. I mean, technically I understand that schools are trying to be sensitive to diversity and respectful of other cultures and beliefs, but bah humbug!! I learned the dreidel song when I was in school! Even made one!! Not out of clay, but still. That was diverse for a small town in Wisconsin. Though come to think of it there was one Jewish kid in my class ... that could have been the reason why Midwest farmers' kids were learning a wee bit about hanukkah.

But all this political correctness is sucking the life out of, well, life.

Why can't kids have their Winter Program but use it as a time to sing a song for each culture? Religion? Actually LEARN diversity instead of tip-toeing around it? Why can't we embrace what makes us different instead of trying so hard to ignore it exists and letting people do their own thing on their own time?

Life should be about learning new things. Trying new things. Embracing your fellow man and sharing your experiences. Not disinfecting every little thing and wrapping up each group in its own little hermetically-sealed world. I mean, obviously malls and Target don't worry about diversity - ever see anything more diverse holiday-wise beyond a Michael Graves' mennorah? So why should we? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I say! Teach my kid about kwanzaa! Feed him a yule log! Let him play the dreidel game!! Why the heck not? Just let him be a kid and enjoy the holidays for what they are, for Pete's sake!!

Enough with the PC. Has anyone ever questioned its worth? Thought that maybe things are the way they are because we're TOO PC? Sheesh. Or, oy vey, as the case may be.


I really have nothing to say.

My brain is toast. Harper got schlepped to one-too-many places today and wouldn't nap. Henry's after-school play friend couldn't play. It was gloomy outside and there's snow in the forecast. I feel like I haven't written a useful/inspiring/thought-provoking/therapeutic entry in ages, so why force it today? (Oh ... but I will give a little WOOHOO shout out to my hunky man, who was just offered a full-time gig once his contract runs out at GMAC/RFC. Way to go, Babe!!) So I'll do this little game that's floatin' around the blogosphere:

2 names you go by:
1. Michele
2. Mrs. Skinner

2 parts of your heritage:
1. Irish
2. Welsh

2 things that scare you:
1. Losing my husband or children
2. Spiders

2 of your everyday essentials:
1. the Internet (thank you, Al Gore!!)
2. Cheese

2 things you are wearing right now:
1. long-sleeved t-shirt
2. headband

2 of your favorite bands or musical artists
 
1. REM
2. Iron & Wine/Sam Beam

2 favorite songs (at the moment):
1. Float On (Modest Mouse)
2. '79 aka The Shouty Track (Lemon Jelly) (perfect when Harper and I boogie)

  
2 things you want in a relationship (not including real love):
1. laughing/humor
2. thoughtfulness/romance

 

2 truths:
1. Regardless of whether I eat a salad or a candy bar, I'll still gain a pound.

2. If I have any plans of any kind or am really looking forward to something, Marc will either get a migraine that morning or will have to suddenly work that night.  

2 physical things that appeal to you (in the opposite sex):
1. eyes
2. tall-dark-and-handsome

2 of your favorite hobbies (scrapping doesn't count):
1. Photography
2. Designing and decorating my house (real or imaginary)

2 things you want really badly:
1. To lose 50 pounds.
2. To lose 50 pounds.

2 places you want to go on vacation:
1. Italy
2. Cornwall/St Ives, England

2 things you want to do before you die:
1. Build and live in my dream house
2. Write a book

2 ways that you are stereotypically a dude/chick:
1. My emotional whims are my prerogative
2. I like to be treated like a girl on occasion

2 things you are thinking about right now:
1. Should go scrub the bathroom
2. My hands are as dry as sandpaper. Should moisturize.

2 stores you shop at:
1. J.Jill
2. Pottery Barn

I'm not very interesting, am I?


Define: Purpose

Driving in the car today:

Henry: Mommy, did you know I have two sharp pointed upside-down triangle teeth on the top and the bottom of my mouth?
Mommy: Yes. Those are called canine teeth. (Explain the whole canine thing, using the word purpose to describe why we have different teeth.)
Henry: What is "purpose"?
Mommy: (define's "purpose")
H: Then, what's the purpose of the trees?
M: To make oxygen for us to breathe and to clean the air.
H: What's the purpose of grass?
M: To hold the dirt together.
H: What's the purpose of sidewalks?
M: For people to walk on so they don't get hit by buses and cars.
H: What's the purpose of streets?
M: (starting to grumble a little) For the cars to drive on so people can get where they want to go.
H: What's the purpose of signs?
M: To give people information.
H: What's the purpose of me?
M: (Huh. Now we have an interesting question.) To be my son, to be smart and kind and loving and obedient so that when you are older you can do great things in the world.
H: Does everyone have a purpose?
M: Yes. My purpose was to be your mom and to love you and teach you how to be good and kind and smart so that you can be important to our future.
H: What is Daddy's purpose?
M: To be your daddy and to fix computer stuff for many different businesses so they can make money and our city can make money which helps our world make money.
H: Oh. I think that's enough purposes for now.


My name is Michele and I'm a holiday-aholic.

(insert monotone 'Hi, Michele," here)

I admit it. I'm addicted to Christmas. I love it. I love everything about it. I love to pull out decorations. I love to test the lights. I love to hang ornaments. I love to shop for my loved ones and look for that one special thing that will make them happy. I love to flip through Christmas home and craft magazines I've collected over the years and find new things to add to the routine. I love to wake up to snow on the ground. I love to listen to the 24/7 Christmas music channel that starts the day after Thanksgiving and ends the day after Christmas. I love to sit in a dark room and just stare at the lit tree. I love to go to Marshall Field's walk-through holiday story. I love to watch Christmas movies every single night in the month of December. I love to watch those old standards - Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown Christmas. I love to hang tinsel on the tree one strand at a time. Seriously, I do.

Like I said, I have an addiction.

I'm ready. Halloween is over, so I'm ready. I had to actually restrain myself from putting the Rat Pack Christmas CD in the other day while I did dishes. I'm just in the mood and READY. It's coming!! And I can't wait.

(last year's tree ... needed to illustrate my excitement!)
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The reason I do what I do.

I blog surf, just like any good internet junkie does. Sure, I have my list of 10-15 regulars who I check in on semi-daily, and then there are others who are bookmarked but I forget to read more than once or twice a month.

Kelly Edgerton is one of those bloggers whom I check not nearly often enough. Her writing is always warm, her stories touching. But she wrote something the other day that really struck a chord with me.

She wrote:

As we pulled into the driveway at the end of our trip, Alyssa turned to me and said, "Thank you. Thank you for being here when I get home, and thank you for driving me all over town. Thank you, because I know it is boring for you and I know it's not fun." The fact that my 15 year old daughter would be able to read me like that not only took me by surprise, it also touched me in a way that I haven't felt in a long time. Alyssa gets it - she realizes what I gave up. She understands that I did it because I love her. She knows that I do it by choice, but she also realizes that I made a sacrifice when making that choice.

And she told me thank you because she is happy to have me home. Two words. They are enough to keep me from ever having second thoughts. Those two words made my day. I might be restless, and I may lack direction, but I will never lack the conviction of knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am doing exactly what it is I need to be doing at this time in my life. I am a mother. Most days, it is a thankless job. Today, Alyssa told me otherwise. She said thank you, and it made a difference.

Wow. Validation for doing what I do. Approval for deciding to chuck my career in favor of mothering these people I've brought into the world. Proof that sometimes people DO notice that mothers are people in their own right, but for many many years they don't really exist as people beyond, in fact, Mom.

I was so focused on having a career when I was younger. I spent all my spare time in college working in the PR office or the school newspaper office. I had big plans for myself. When I graduated I wasn't satisfied with just ANY job; I had to have one that would further my desire to write and edit.

Then I found myself unexpectedly pregnant.

Something about that changed everything. I had always planned that I would probably stay home when I had kids, but I didn't intend to have a baby at 26. I was working for a book publisher and really liked what I was doing for the first time in more than a year, and to give that up was hard. I talked to the editor-in-chief about working part-time or from home, but she said they'd tried that before and had gotten burned. I debated briefly the idea of going back to work, but that lasted only as long as it took to realize that with child care, parking, etc. I would actually be handing my firstborn to a stranger and then going to work for free. Not cool.

So I admitted what I knew all along: I would be a stay-home mommy. And even on the bad days I never regret that decision. And I truly have no plans or ambitions to return to work as long as my kids are under my roof. I don't want to have to ask someone's permission to leave work and attend to my sick child. I don't want to be tired by the end of the day and have no energy for my kids for the few precious hours they are awake after I get home. I don't want to miss a moment of their childhood. I don't want to leave their values and rearing in the hands of someone other than me and Marc.

I've already discovered just how fast childhood goes. I blinked somewhere along the way and Henry is suddenly in kindergarten. It occured to me on the first day of school that this is the last year when my presence in his life will actually consist of more hours a day than his teachers and the people he sees at school. That's frightening, and I have to have faith that I've laid a good foundation in him to be a strong, intelligent, safe young man. I had only five years to influence the choices he will make for the rest of his life.

And now I start the process all over again for Harper.

It is too bad that stay-home moms aren't recognized with more respect for what they do, because ultimately we shape the landscape of future generations. And isn't that a pretty important job?