Friday, February 26, 2010

Monkey See

Whenever I pick up Abby from her crib in the morning the first thing I do is turn off her nightlight. With my toes. It's amazing what mothers can do with their feet while holding baby or toddler. Drop a fork but are too occupied soothing a teething one year old with your upper body? No worries, I can easily wrangle the fork handle with my feet, thank you very much. Toothbrush falls to the floor while you're wrestling toddler with a washcloth? No problemo, like the long toed sloth that I am, I reach it with my digits and the world spins on its axis immortal.

So now you all know my dirty little secret. I turn off Abby's nightlight with my feet.

And now, so does Abby.





















Wax on























Wax off

Thursday, February 25, 2010

He's Ready

Mission accomplished. Registration papers for Grayson's preschool are in and he's enrolled for the fall. The best news of all is the fact that he keeps asking to go there to visit his classroom and his teachers. In other words, he's just as psyched and ready as we are!

Being a former educator (and even a short year long stint as a preschool teacher) myself, I felt very confident that I'd "just know" when we found a great match for Grayson. I tried not to set my expectation bar too high or too unrealistic because after all, it is preschool and he'll thrive in
any environment that provides other children, activities, and a monitored playground.

That being said, neither my husband nor I set out looking for a rigorous academic curriculum. However, Grayson loves to learn and he's thirsty to know it all right now so we wanted a place that does offer some instruction and not all play. Don't get me wrong, we both believe children learn through play while interacting with their environment, other children and adults. We also understand the importance of kids feeling safe and accepted by warm, friendly, and professional staff and teachers. As parents who also happen to be pessimistic adults on occasion, we know you never get everything you want so we were ready to "go without" one thing over the other. To my sincerest astonishment and awe, we both feel this preschool we chose just yesterday really does offer it all. Or enough of it all that we're sold.

I'll spare you details but I knew this place was gold when we walked in to the classroom and it felt like we were visiting an old friend. The classroom was set up to feel like someone's playroom in their home. There were toys but not too many. Every play thing was obviously well thought out and neatly stored in baskets on small shelves within reach of little hands. There were tons of children's artwork but not every single inch of wall was covered with googly eyes and construction paper cutouts. There was a blessed amount of negative (as in clutter free, think-easy) space. There were two tables of children "working" with clay but each was making their own shape du jour and not simply copying the teacher's model even though a model was available. A little boy with brown eyes came to show us his "clayburger" as my little boy watched silently but very intently.

I knew we'd found the right place for Grayson because he physically exhaled in this classroom after five minutes of observing. When we first arrived, he began to shake so badly his left leg almost collapsed right then and there. My heart wanted to scoop him up and run back to our car but I'm so glad we persevered because minutes later he stopped shivering, looked up at me to smile, and breathed out a long audible sigh. So loudly that even the Director noticed.

He's ready.

Trying to let things sink in slowly for Grayson, I didn't say much. I wanted to give him the space and time to make up his own mind about this place. We walked the halls and peeked in to some more classrooms in various stages of their comfortably busy (not frenetic like so many of them tend to be) daily routine. He remained interested, engaged, and alert. But still quiet. Then we came upon their music room. Here, Grayson was overcome with words. "Piano!" "They're singing!" "ABCs, I know this song." "Those chidwen are sitting on letters, Mommy!" "That looks fun. Can I go?"

He's ready.

Then the Director explained that we'd have to belong to the Community Center (preschool is affiliated) if we choose to enroll Grayson here. My eyes fell to my shoes. Another fee? We can barely manage the preschool tuition as it is. Now we have to pay a monthly fee for membership too?

"Oh," The Director started, "Just so you know, there is free childcare when you come to use our gym. And the pool is heated."

Gym? Free childcare? Poooool?

I'm ready.

My 401K will miss me this year but this opportunity is too golden to pass up.

We start in the fall.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More?






Add Image













Okay, the fact that they're calling it a "monster" snow storm on TV is a little disconcerting. Not so much here in the DC Metro area (at least I don't think so but also haven't clicked into the news all day). From what I understand it's going to hit the northern states the hardest. How are those people going to strap on their boots and heave mountains of snow onto the already existing mountains of snow? I'm sure Massachusetts (yes, you Leominster) is giggling a little and rightfully so. Has to be kind of funny to watch the "south" run around Home Depot buying salt and shovels like they're frankincense and myrrh but I can't stop keep thinking about my good friend who is due to have her baby any day now. She lives in Pennsylvania and mild contractions have been underway for her for a few days already. Her husband works an hour away and her family is even less close by. I wouldn't put it past her to drive herself to the hospital when the time comes so let's all hope it doesn't come to that. Say a little prayer for her that this bluebundle of love will arrive safe and soundly when Daddy is home between the hours of 7pm and 6am.

Godspeed Blythe, we're rooting for you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blogged Down















Hi Guys. Forgive me for the anemic posts of videos and pictures this week. Am finding it difficult to make free time enough for my usual verbosities here. We're shopping for preschools and believe me, do I have some stories for you so stay tuned on that front. Who knew that visiting a couple of preschools could open up opportunities outside of just preschool?

In the meantime, I was able to download some pictures from our Valentine's Day weekend and wanted to share. Hope to be back on the talkative train tomorrow. Thanks for not giving up on us here at One-Sided, we appreciate it!















Here's The Husband with Briana at the cell phone kiosk. Had to document the exact moment we stepped into the 21st century. I made this his screen saver.
















Ah yes, the ever popular long-armed self portrait. We look like we haven't slept well since 1975. Probably true.

















Here's that awesome restaurant we literally stumbled into to get out of the cold. I still have warm fuzzies about this place.






















Here's a random alley we saw on our way through town. Celebrating the fact I could take pictures with a phone.






















One of the many boutiques in which we tried to browse only. Unsuccessfully.


















What was for dinner Saturday night.

















A nice reminder that we are not always the most important thing going.


















The most important thing going.

And the reason we came home before noon on Sunday (when our loving and most generous Nammy & Pop sitters were not leaving until noon on Monday.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How We Entertain Ourselves Round Here

video

video

It will come as no surprise to any of you that these shananigans resulted in a large periwinkle goosegg on Abby's forehead.

Also? That blue dishtowel on the left. It bothers me too. Sorry.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Survival of the Least Fit

I made it. We made it. It's Friday and my husband comes back tonight. One week of him gone on travel is enough for me. I got lucky this time. His travel was supposed to be a double feature that lasted one week in one state and the next week in another state but the epic snowstorm luckily changed his original plans. I've been lucky since we moved here actually because we were told he would be traveling two weeks out of each month minimum with his new position at the Pentagon. His having to travel has picked up but so far we still haven't reached him being gone 50% of every month. Thank God.

I honestly don't know how military wives or husbands go months, if not years in the absence of their spouse. Or the same sentiment to those married to husbands/wives who work exorbitant hours for their jobs and must travel often too. And forget all that - what about the millions of single parents doing it completely alone without the promise of someone else coming home to relieve them? I shudder in my own tired bones thinking about them. God Bless you guys. Really, I absolutely think of you all when I feel wasted and unable to go on another minute. I gather my strength, my patience, and my perspective to wash that little scrubby head of hair, brush those tiny little marbly teeth, and kiss those sweet angelic faces goodnight at the end of a very long day in your honor. (* Recently a young man in a store asked my husband if he was a Marine (the haircut always gives him away). This young man was also a Marine who had gotten out for a while but was thinking of going back in. After a short chat about V-7s, Al Asad Air Base and the V22 Program the young man shook his hand and thanked him for his service. He then stopped, tipped his head to me and looked me dead in the eye, "Thank you ma'am for having the toughest job in the Marine Corps." While I know he was referring to deployments, possible deployments or maybe collateral duties that may take time from the family, it occured to me that yes, those of us not wearing uniforms or having official rank do have a hard job too. We are expected to make do and no shit (as hubby would say) pull it all together without complaint. That is part of this gig whether your Marine is stationed here or away. That is part of our reality and you can either sink or swim. I for one, am strapping on my oxygen tank and going for a nice long dunk in the water, baby. HoofreakinRa.)


Before I learn about my husbands travels, whether for work or for play, I always freak out in my mind a little (A LITTLE!) about how I'm going to do it all alone. Then I simmer down, lose the splotchy hives and come to my senses by remembering the facts:

  • I do this by myself during the day, every day, until 6:30/ 7pm every night anyway
  • The children are Uh-MAY-zing to me when Daddy's away
  • Even Sadie becomes less needy
  • I get to snuggle with Grayson at night because he sleeps in my bed when hubby's gone
  • I have sole authority over the remote and don't have to feign interest in that Auto show where the silver haired guy "saves" old cars, fixes them up, and puts them in auction. I've seen that bloody show 5 times at least and he has yet to sell one for a good price. I no longer believe he's the man for the job and I want to shout, "Don't do it Lady, don't hire him, he's not very good at what he does!" to all those lonely widows trying to make a buck from their late husband's hot rod. Honestly, who can afford to be this upset while waiting for Project Runway to come on?
  • I don't have to cook (or cook very well) because the kids each eat two point five tablespoons of food and it's time to clean up anyway.
  • I get to leave the mail in the mailbox (gasp!) for one night or two if I'm feeling frisky.
  • I don't have to empty each and every trash can into the big one nightly. It's Kleenex and Q-tips. Not hazard waste. I'm pretty sure we'll all live to see another day.
  • There is nobody asking me if I went outside today. (I know you work inside a large building in a cubicle without windows or sunlight, Honey, but it is February with monster walls of snow surrounding us everywhere we look and 13 degrees with wind chill. Forgive me for "wimping out." We played superheroes, ate cookie dough, and rolled on the floor like carpet worms for several hours before you arrived.)
  • and?????????? (drum roll) and I get to miss him.
So, while nobody loves to "go it alone" (shouldn't it technically be "go AT it alone? I've never understood this phrase and it bothers me. also? when people use "broke" instead of broken. Like "Aw man, it doesn't work anymore. It's broke." No. Just very much no. It's not broke. It's brokEN. Broke is what you just did to make it broken. Okay, I'm done.) there are the things you can look forward to in order to make the best of it.

All that being said, I am proud of myself for keeping this household and all its inhabitants fed, healthy(ish- G has a cold), clean, warm, and happy. It doesn't take a SuperParent or superhuman strength to do it all by yourself. What I find it does take is an appreciation for planning, resting, vitamin eating, blogging, facebooking, Nikon'ing, snuggling, laughing, vacuuming, reshelving, playing, tushie grabbing, and a heart big enough for forgiving yourself when none of that is perfect.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Pick Up Artist














You know those carts in stores that hold all the items people decided not to buy at the last minute? Right. The ones that sit there getting fuller and fuller as the day wears on and so much so that you start to feel sorry for the poor employee who has to unload all that crap just because customers (like me) couldn't make up their mind quickly enough? You do?

I wish we had one here. And the poor employee stuck with the re shelving task too while I'm at it.

This clean as you go business is for the birds. Some days I feel like I do nothing but pick up and return. Pick up and return.

If I wasn't so type A I'd be okay with egg beaters on my bed or Mardi Gras beads in the fireplace but I'm too Nicholas Cage in Matchstick Men for that. Becoming a mom has done this to me. Just ask my own mom (or my old roommates), clutter and dissarayness never bothered me in the slightest when I was younger, pre-Bjorn. Now? I'm a honking mess of "Oh my Gawd, pick up that Lego that you haven't played with in 10 seconds before it makes my mental state dive into a black abyss of chaos and negative Feng Shui.

How did this happen?

I'm blaming it on a cold and windy night in October a few years back. Out came a baby and in went more neurosis than I can shake a Swiffer at.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lyrically Unsound

Tonight's Quentin Tarantino-esque rendition of Hush Little Baby to Abby:

Hush Little Baby
Don't you cry
Momma's gonna buy you a....
(Shoot, what's the first thing? Two seconds in and I'm choking.)
Momma's gonna buy you a
Horse that flies.

And if that horse that flies runs away
Momma's gonna buy you a.....
Kardashian ring on ebay

And if that ring on ebay
is junk
Momma's gonna write that
worthless punk

And if that worthless punk
don't write back
Momma's gonna buy you
a pit bull in tact

And if that pit bull in tact
gets run over
Momma's gonna buy you
a brand new snowblower

And if that snowblower
won't cut through ice
Momma's gonna sing another
song that is nice.


Goodnight & sleep tight bloggities.
(Don't let the in tact pit bulls bite.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For the Love of Bisque

Okay, I'm not going to lie. Eight years is probably a little too long to wait for a solo vacation with your spouse. We've gone places together but it's always been (every single time, we counted) to a destination involving family, either his side or mine. In other words, we were never alone for more than an airplane trip or a long drive in the car. We never went anywhere to BE anywhere together, just he and me. Nobody to blame but ourselves. I'm sure the opportunities were there. Now we have two children and life has grown so busy with babies, moves, and daily living that "couple" vacations have been low on our list of priorities. So you can imagine our awkwardness with each other once we did get away without any of our usual distractions. He and I were absolutely lost without our family. I felt like I was on a blind date with my own husband and it was cracking me up.

I could write twelve posts on how we fumbled around each other aimlessly in Frederick, Maryland (oh yeah, that was our destination- really nice quaint town w/tons of shops and restaurants, good choice for a short trip.) Or how we didn't know what to talk about if it wasn't the kids, finances or his job. Knowing how to relate to each other outside of "Mommy" and "Daddy" is certainly a skill and as we both discovered this weekend, not one we have acquired. At least not yet.

As for this weekend, the real romance was between me and a hot bowl of beautiful tomato bisque. After spending three hours in a mall debating over which new cell phone to buy (how's that for fireworks?) we decided lunch was in order. We drove downtown, parked, then stumbled on a fantastic place to eat called The Orchard Restaurant with the BEST tomato bisque. I ordered that and their Indian Stir Fry. My taste buds are still thanking me. Andy ordered some kind of chicken pesto dish that was equally impressive.

Here's the link in case you ever find yourself in the mood to treat your belly with something different and memorable: Our waiter said there are recipes for some dishes on this site but I can't find them. He also mentioned emailing the owner who will forward a recipe for something not listed. I recommend looking into the bisque. It's the right thing to do.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Three Day Getaway

So my husband has taken pity on his poor frazzled House Frau and is taking me away this weekend for Valentine's Day. It was meant to be a surprise but I got wind of his plan via speaker phone. I overheard him talking to his parents about our trip in pretty substantial detail. Though I ran upstairs as quickly as I could so as not to ruin the entire thing for myself, I'm pretty sure I got the gist. No worries though because it's always better to tell a mom about a getaway that involves packing, leaving notes about the care of her tribe, and of course, leaving that tribe in general.

To be real, this getaway comes at a great time for both of us, not just me. With all this snow we've been blanketed with recently, my very outdoorsy husband has been stuck inside the house playing endless games of halfway football, sorta baseball, and not even close soccer. Then there were the arts and crafts with Mom's old Stampin' Up supplies and lumps of glitter glue. I knew he had enough when he asked where we kept our staple gun.

So we're off to a destination I heard about but can't wait to see in all this snow. I'll keep it a secret from you until I can get back and report, I mean post pictures. Until then, you'll have to settle for these: a few shots from our honeymoon back in 2002 to Bar Harbor, Maine. It seems like a hundred years ago when a young, childless, and Keurig-free couple flew away for a few days to do nothing but hike, eat, take pictures, and buy cool sweatshirts. Sometimes I miss those days. (Sometimes I miss those sweatshirts I can no longer fit into comfortably.) And sometimes I look back on them like the beginning of a ride that has brought me to the happiest place in my life which is now. Doesn't get much better than to have two beautiful healthy little children and a lovely middle aged dogga to come home to. And with that, I bid you all a very Happy Valentine's Day weekend. May you all get to celebrate a love journey (gag, puke, ralph) that has brought or is currently bringing you to your happy place too!












































Thursday, February 11, 2010

Here I Go Again

"I don't know just where I'm goin.....




















But I sure know where I've been."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stir in Some Crazy














(Yes, that's a child's knife Grayson's using to diabolically draw some sort of blueprint in the carpet. Don't worry. It was clean.)


Okay people, we are officially going stir crazy here. I know that because after listening to WTOP's roof collapsing advisory (because we're 90) my husband, Grayson, Abby and I are having conversations like this:

Lunch Time at Kitchen Table-

Me: Honey, should we worry about our roof?

Grayson: (alarmed) What did you said to Daddy?

Husband: Ummm. Hmmm.

Me: (Oh My God. We're all gonna die.)

Husband: Well...

Grayson: What Daddy? What is it? What Daddy? What is...?

Interrupting Me: Maybe we should worry about our roof.

Grayson: Mommy? Are you going to worry Daddy on our roof? What is it?

Husband: Did you know, that is a specialized field? There are certain sized pieces of lumber that are specifically designed to go on roofs in that region of the world. Say, like our roof....

Abby: GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH- Pbpbpbpbp!

Me: What was that, Honey? Do you think they put special lumber on our roof?

Grayson? What is it? MOMMY!? WHAT IS PESHILE LUMBR?

Husband: Well, like in arid areas they would put....

Abby: GHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESH!

Me: (Oh My God. What day is it? How long have we been in here?) Honey. I can't hear you. I stopped hearing you somewhere between Grayson freaking out and Abby speaking Lebanese. I'm so sorry.

Husband: Look, I see the sun!

Grayson: Mommy, what is LebChinese?

Me: Awesome. Peanut butter in your ears, Abby. How does that even happen?

Abby: MaMaMaMaMaMaMaGHAAAAAAAAAAAACK!













(Warning: Do NOT click on this picture or else you'll never be able to eat Ramen Noodles ever again. Trust me here.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Good Hour

Ahhh. This is a rare moment in time when one girl baby is napping and one boy child is out playing in the snow with his daddy. Even the canine is otherwise engaged in a snowball fight so I have nobody to corral, guide, or clean. It feels good. So good. I'm trying to embrace this sweet chunk of life and breathe. They say the Bigger Snow is rounding the corner so I'm sure this house will be alive with chaos and noise in short order but for now I listen to the nothing, recharge and daydream of farms,
















big sky,














and great food.















You can take the stress out of the mom but you can never make her leave her kitchen.


P.S. That mouthwatering lovely above is Chicken Parm from Pioneer Woman's site. It's what's for dinner tonight. I will shovel more snow in atonement tomorrow.

Monday, February 8, 2010

To Be Inside

Dear Sweet Abby. I'm sensing a theme.














































My poor little lost lamb, still searching for the womb.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

To Slide

Yes, we just got punished with 20 plus feet of perfect powder but that's not what this is about. This is about the day before the Big Snow that rocked the east coast. On Friday we spent our afternoon building snowmen, making snow angels, and sliding down the hill in our backyard.













































(Shhh, don't tell Grayson his snowman has a bright red colostomy bag, it'll ruin the experience.)


Sledding and I go way back. My older brother (Eric), my mom, and I once lived in Minnesota for a few years (once upon a time) and 20 inches of snow was a mediocre day of precipitation there. Blizzards and white outs were the norm, so much so the school districts wouldn't cancel school because all the buses had chains on their tires. I can remember actually tunneling to our neighbors' houses in 5 layers of clothing with our Freezie Freaky gloves (remember those?) like little mole people and hanging out in our "igloos" until our parents yelled outside for us to come back in. It was not uncommon to open our front door and see more snow than sky right away. We had to walk miles and miles to our bus stop in our bare feet and....okay, okay, you get it.

For me to share the sledding experience with my two little kids is more fun than I can explain in words. I had a ball outside with them showing them all the tricks of the sledding trade:
  • walk to the left of the trail so as to keep the trail smooth and glacial
  • Hold On - Always!
  • feet up and lean back on sled to go faster
  • it's more fun to go down in pairs on your sled
  • it's less fun to have Sadie to make that pair on your sled
and lastly

  • jump ship if you're heading toward a tree (or an upright metal pole from the tetherball game your lazy parents forgot to remove for the winter)
Here's a few pictures of how their sledding experience went.
First Grayson:













































































Pretty good run, Little Grasshopper.

Next up, Abigail. Oh don't give me that look, it was totally her idea. She was all, "Put me in coach!" with Evel Kinevel in her veins, this child, and would throw a bigger hissy if I didn't let her go down the hill all by herself, trust me.














"C'mon already, Woman, I'm ready to get this party started!"
says Abby.















"Whoa, Nelly. Hold on, Hold ON, HOLD ON!"
says stupified mom who is pretty sure she's headed to the ER after this snow stunt.














Sadie looks on, unimpressed. She's waiting for the triple lutz, I suppose.














And score. Still on tobaggen. All limbs intact. No facial abrasions or lacerations.














Still smiling. Ready for round two.



























"I said READY FOR ROUND TWO WOMAN, Did I stutter?"


And then she cried because I did not push her up the hill fast enough for a second go. True Story.



******************************************

Who says the kids get to have all the fun?















What? There was an angry, rabid, vampire wolf ready to eat me whole at the end of my run, swear to God.

















See? Grrrr. An albino rabid vampire wolf - even worse. I barely escaped with my life. Or my pink tennis ball.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Soul














Would you believe I cooked this gorgeous pot of gold? Oh so deeelish, if I say so myself and perfect for a snowed in weekend (32 inches, WHAT?!?). Thank you PJ, for introducing me to The Pioneer Woman. Because of her site, I've been able to cook a few new meals for my family without breaking out into hives over long winded recipes and instructions. Ree's recipes are authentic and wholesome with from-the-earth ingredients that make me feel like I don't have two left thumbs while preparing. Halfway through making this soup, I actually felt I could kick butt at a Quickfire challenge should Padma ever come a'knockin. So even if you're not a true foodie, go check her out for inspiration, new ideas, or an amusing (oh yeah, she's funny in addition to being a spectacular photographer) pictorial walkthrough of her recipes. The most amazing part? Grayson who has subsisted on fruit chews and Goldfish crackers for two years straight has eaten everything of hers that I have made. That alone could make me weep in my soup. But I won't because Ree's recipe only calls for a skoshe of salt.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Shameless














Can you see them? Look closer. Yes, that really is superhero underwear on Grayson's wall. At least they are freshly washed and just out of the dryer. All completely and utterly his idea, I only provided the height and a few thumbtacks. Who knows, it's so odd that maybe it'll work and really, I am so tickled that he is thinking outside the box to get himself back to sleeping in his own room. We've had him as our insomniatic roommate for weeks now and although I would kill gorillas for this child, I really do miss sleeping without a tiny elbow in my clavicle. Sweet dreams little underwearless child, don't let the Spiderman bite.

Someone's Teething Again