Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve in Arkansas

I hope you will forgive me for not keeping up to date on Advent calendering... I have just travelled far, far away!

We are having a great time so far. Our first day, we spent the daytime with Dad and Matt, Charity and Ava (brother, sis-in-law and niece). Dad and we did some grocery shopping in the morning, and then we went over to Matt's and then out to lunch at Panera Bread Company. Oh, freakin yum. I forgot how yummy Panera is. That night, we went to my mom's for the Herring family Christmas. It was great too, seeing my aunt, cousins, and grandpa. The kids enjoyed playing with the dog, and I enjoyed cuddling my wee Ava. And of course, we enjoyed the turkey, venison, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean bundles, rolls and pies! And Diet Dr. Pepper. Oh, my, Diet Dr. Pepper is so delicious.

The next day we went shopping at Hobby Lobby (and luckily Scott managed not to claw his eyes out while we canvassed the entire warehouse), then had lunch at Mean Pig. I'm not kidding, I would move back to America just for the Mean Pig. I think I'm going to suggest going there again today. Even the kids loved it. I could not believe my picky-eater Fifi ate a whole pulled beef sandwich... And Lolly loved her hot dog. And me and Scott decided it's not going to be Small pork sandwiches with hot sauce for us ever again - it will be Jumbo!! We came home and chilled out in front of the TV for the next few hours (which is a luxury for us even just watching TV since we don't have TV at home) then went out to Dixie Cafe for dinner. I cannot believe how much food we have eaten, but it's all been soooo yummy.

Today is Christmas Eve. Dad and I are going to Wal-Mart this morning for Christmas dinner groceries (and Heather, if you are reading, no, I am not making it!), then I imagine we will lay low most of the day until tonight. I think the plan for tonight is to go drive around and look at Christmas lights, go to a Christmas Eve service at church, then come back, light a fire, drink whisky and hot chocolate - not together - and play a board game.

And then tomorrow...

IS CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reindeer Food and Stuff

Oh dear... big jumbles of Every-Day-Blends-Into-The-Next.

So, what have we done in the past Days 14-17 (and 18 too)?

First off, we made Reindeer Food.



It was easy. I didn't follow any recipe (though recipes are found all over the internet), I just used up stuff that was in my cupboards. We ended up with Reindeer Food made from oats, three different types of cake sprinkles, raisins and glitter (which I discovered afterward is bad for animals, so, um, don't use craft glitter. Use sparkly cake sprinkles or edible glitter...)

That was it. The kids enjoyed pouring and mixing the ingredients, as well as eating the cake sprinkles and raisins along the way. Then we poured the mixture into little craft bags with a Reindeer Food poem (found here - literally the first in my Google search). Easy peasy.

The next few days were equally easy. On Friday, they packed their bags for a sleepover with 'Auntie' Lorna, and I must say, they had the time of their lives. This was Lolly's first sleepover anywhere besides Granny's house, and I was nervous for her, but she did so well. Today, Saturday, they went to see Santa with Granny and Auntie Katie (while Scott and I leisurely enjoyed doing nothing in a quiet, child-free house). And tomorrow, Sunday, the activity is to go to our church's Christmas Night. Easy peasy lemon squeezy (as Fifi would say).

So, besides that, let me just say, Happy Birthday to Scott today and Happy Birthday to Lolly and Uncle Faisal tomorrow. :) What were we all thinking, planning so many children to be born right before Christmas? Sheesh.

And here are some promised photos of the girls' homemade Christmas cards (inspired by Auntie Rebekkah).



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Days 12 and 13

Just a quickie here, to keep up to date. (Photos to follow in next post.)

Day 12, Monday, was the day after the party, and the kids forgot to check their calendar before school. So while Fifi was at school, I had a quick look to see what it was. 'Wrap presents to take to America.'

Oops.

I had already done that myself, forgetting it was on the list.

So with little time to scramble about, I decided to swap it around with something else and resolve it later. But the Tuesday activity was ideal for Tuesday, and so was the Wednesday activity, so I just pulled out the old tried and true parenting trick of pure and utter deceit.

Fifi can't properly read yet, and what she can read is better in Gaelic than English, so when she got home from school, I just made something up. I told them it said we were to go to Blockbuster, rent or buy Mr Popper's Penguins and then watch it under a cosy blanket. It sounded believable enough! So that's what we did. And they all enjoyed it.

Today's activity, being a busy Tuesday, was to read a book about Mary, Joseph and Jesus. I got out a very special, beautiful pop-up book about the nativity that my dear friend Devon sent me a few years ago, that I don't let the kids play with, and I read it to them.

But we had lots of unexpected free time today because I didn't take them to dance (I had a training course on tonight and didn't think I'd be able to get them back home from dance in time to get to the course), so I stole my sister-in-law's activity from a few days ago, and we made Christmas cards. We did just what she did; we used cookie cutters as tracing templates, cut them out, glued them onto card, and then decorated with glitter. It was fun, if not a bit stressful, and we will finish them tomorrow. Fifi wants to make a four in total for her four teachers/ class room assistants, and she only made three today. Plus I wanted to let the copious amounts of glue dry before they continued embellishing their work. I have ribbons, beads, and jewels I figure they can add on to the cards tomorrow, and Fifi can make her last one.

They turned out quite cute, and I will take photos of the finished products.

So, did I say this would be a quickie? Oh well, that's me, never knows how to just shut up and get to the point.

Off to bed now to sleep to the sounds of yet another raging wind storm.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lolly's 3rd Birthday Party

Today was Lolly's last minute, thrown together tiny birthday party. I really did intend to throw her a big bash, like I did on Fifi's 3rd Dora the Explorer party, but this year, with panto the week before, and packing for America the week after, I just didn't have time. So I invited just the smallest group of kids I could manage (only the kids her exact age from toddler group), meaning there were only 7 kids total, including Fifi and Lolly. Five three year olds and two 5 year olds (the siblings).

I thought it would be rather relaxed that way.

To be honest, it wasn't bad. But hosting in your home is always stressful, with all the friendly chatting, food preparing, drink serving, and overall managing that needs to be done. So the first half of the party I spent jumping back and forth between trying to be social with my guests in the living room and keeping on top of the food in the kitchen. Scott helped get drinks out and served to everyone, which helped loads. But it was still wild with kids running everywhere, particularly into the kitchen asking for food and drinks. So we did the food thing early. I set out a blanket in the living room (knowing in my heart there would be disaster, but what else could I do?) for the kids to eat on, then we did the birthday cake first so they could eat the cake with their food. (I've never understood this thing they do over here of cutting the cake, wrapping it in a napkin and sending it home in the party bag... bizzaro if you ask me. And messy.)





We went with star-shaped cupcakes this year instead of a cake for the sake of ease, and because the cupcakes fit in with the Dora theme (estrellas! and all). So I arranged a few on a platter for blowing out the candles and then we set one of those celebration firecracker Roman Candle sort of candles on top of the cupcake tower for effect. Scott carried the cupcake tower, and I carried the cupcake platter out and we all sang happy birthday.

Except we barely got past the first Happy Birthday to You when...

The Roman Candle cupcake fell off the top of the tower, landed on the floor, and kept shooting off it's sparks.

Right into my new cream carpet.

Obviously there was no way for Scott to catch it bare-handed. I mean, this celebration candle sends off firecracker flames literally a foot and a half high in the air. So all he could do was reach down as quickly as possible and get it off the floor.

By which point a black hole had already burnt its way through my carpet.

It was all I could do not to cry. After the song ended, and Lolly blew out the candles on her little cake, I got down on my hands and knees and cleaned up the (blue, of course) icing off the carpet and investigated the burn. Everyone was watching me, all probably feeling my pain (in fact, I heard Maria say if it was her, she'd be crying). But I managed not to cry. I just went back into the kitchen to regain my composure.

From then on, people kept telling me how it wasn't that bad and how it could be fixed, but I just couldn't listen. From that moment on, I had a hard time focusing on my precious baby's party. We still had fun though, don't get me wrong. We had a pinata and the kids had great fun trying to bust it open. I think I may have had the most fun as I violently bashed it over and over, releasing a whole lot of tension in the process.



The party was still a success, and Lolly had a ball. She loved all of it, and loved her presents too. The cleanup afterwards was a bitch, but that's children's parties for you! Now I'm sitting in a freshly hoovered living room, and Scott managed to cut away most of the black bits of the burn so now it's just a brown singed smear, so I'm not feeling as distraught as before. But I think I will maybe never have another party in the house ever again. Sports Centres and community halls from here on out.


(What's left of the 'carpet burn'. Not too bad. Annoying, but nothing like it was before Scott cut away all the black.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

PPPP Night and Red Grape Shloer

Before moving on to housework, a little blog.

Today's activity was have an indoor picnic in our pajamas. This is really just a secret way of getting them to bed twice as fast, but as long as it works! Daddy requested a picnic of pancakes so it was our Pancake Picnic in Pajamas Party (PPPP).

We've done this the other years too, but this was the first attempt at eating in the living room on my new cream carpet. I was really nervous about it, so I chose a huge thick, heavy old blanket to picnic on, and nixed the syrup. Kids had chocolate chip pancakes, sweet enough.

So everything was going fine, and that's when everything went wrong. I let my guard down.

(Behold, what comes next is super overreacting on Mummy and Daddy's parts and hardly worth the phrase 'everything went wrong'. But it involved my cream carpets, as I'm sure you've already guessed, and I *heart* my new carpet nearly as much as I *heart* the children who are determined to ruin it.)

I had bought a bottle of Red Grape Shloer for Lolly's birthday party tomorrow and told the girls it was special wine they were allowed to have a taste of. Well of course, they couldn't wait to try it, so I got out the special port glasses and poured both a small glass of 'wine'. Fifi loved it. Lolly didn't and asked for milk instead. I then told them to go out of the kitchen, get the picnic ready and I'd come through with pancakes shortly.

As we sat on our blanket, merrily watching Charlie Brown's Christmas eating pancakes, the girls began complaining of thirst. Lolly kept trying to go to the kitchen to help herself, so I ended up going through and bringing the port glasses through. Fifi's had only half her juice left and Lolly had only half her milk, so I thought, 'What harm can they do? They'll drink it right up before they could spill it.'

I gave the girls their glasses with the admission that if they spilled their drinks I would 'cry all over them'. (I'm a good mum, I know.) Several times I warned them to watch their drinks. Things were going fine. The girls sat quietly, eating and watching Charlie Brown buy a sad, pathetic little tree when suddenly, Fifi had one of her classic freak-out-go-crazy-excited moments and just literally exploded like a bomb, crossed legs and crossed arms just bursting out with a sudden cry of hysterical happiness and of course... she knocked over her red grape juice all over the blanket.

I screamed. I actually screamed.

Scott screamed. He sent Fifi to her room.

I freaked out, grabbed a nearby towel and started mopping it up hysterically off the blanket, like that would save the carpet or something. Then I realised I should lift the blanket to save the carpet just to discover... the blanket and the spill had been laid over our red throw rug.

So absolutely no damage whatsoever. Except the damage to Fifi's sensitive heart, of course. She was still in her room, sobbing, crying how sorry she was, totally devestated. So Mummy and Daddy had to go through, hug her, explain to her how important it is to be careful with drinks in the living room, etc etc etc. Fifi couldn't stop crying and saying, 'I'm so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so [she must've said 'so' about thirty times] sorry!'

I think indoor picnics will be taken off next year's activity list. Because it very well could be me next year who ends up spilling the juice.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Painting Decorations for Day 9 and a Birthday to Boot

Today's activity was painting tree decorations.

The idea came when I opened up a box of Christmas things, and found a bunch of unpainted wooden ornaments with the tags still on them, and I remembered my friend Maria using the same type of ornaments a few years ago for painting.

There's not much to say about it, other than the kids enjoyed painting them. And surprisingly, they didn't get paint everywhere. Not even my childminded 18 month old! She was perhaps the most precise of all!

So what could be more interesting to tell about today?

How about the fact that I spent a ridiculous amount of money at Tesco buying stuff in for Lolly's birthday party this weekend? See, this is what happens when you don't count how much you are spending as you go. I just saw stuff and put it in the trolley. When the total was rang up at the end, I nearly collapsed.

I can't believe Scott and I did not think ahead when we decided to have another baby. Why, oh why did we not think about the fact that 9 months later would be Christmas?

There's also that worry that poor Lolly will get fewer presents because her birthday is close to Christmas. This could so easily happen so the way we get around it at the moment is I buy both Fifi AND Lolly's birthday presents at the same time so that no matter how much Lolly insists, I can assure her she got AS MANY PRESENTS AS FIFI GOT. This year they both have exactly four presents from us for their birthdays, three of them being somewhat identical, and one being individually unique to the child.

So Sunday after church we will have just a small, mostly family thing in the house for her. It is a week early, and it is also not what we planned, but with trip to America right around the corner, and Christmas and everything everything everything else, we decided it was the best way. I would've liked to give her a big party, but it just isn't going to work out that way this year.

But more about that on Sunday! (Lolly's party being the Advent Activity of the day.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Some Catching Up To Do: Days 5, 7 and 8

Day 5
On Day 5, we made paper lanterns. For the last two years, we made a long string of paper lanterns and hung them out on the handrail of the staircase in the close. But since we aren't going to be around for Christmas and beyond, I decided not to clutter up our communal walk way this year. Instead we just made individual ones to hang on the tree.

Fifi is getting very grown up with scissors. She was able to do her lanterns much on her own. Lolly, however, is still a firecracker in a tornado, and had to be stopped before she cut her sister's hair off with the scissors. Gahhhh.




Day 7
Yesterday, on Day 7, we were supposed to make a 'family video e-card'. Well, that never happened. We were too busy trying to make up for the Tuesday we missed, so we spent the time cutting out snowflakes. The activity said colourful snowflakes, but I decided last minute that snowflakes AREN'T colourful at all, so we used plain http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifboring white computer paper. And made some stunning snowflakes. Fifi found this a bit more difficult with the scissors, since it was cutting through thick layers of paper, but still had fun. Then we hung them in the living room window for all to enjoy.



A video e-card may or may not happen at the weekend.

Day 8
Today we got back on schedule with our gingerbread men making. But only barely.

Today all the schools were shut because of the imposing doom of today's Hurricane Bawbag. So instead of only having my one toddler I look after during the day, I had her big brother and sister too. I also couldn't get out of the house to buy any groceries so we were living on scarcity. Still, I assumed I had enough in the pantry to make gingerbread men, so we went for it.

Well, as it turned out I had only EXACTLY enough flour to make our cookies - 200g exactly. So I melted the sugar, butter and golden syrup together, added the flour and baking powder and finally the ginger-- except, oops. I was out of ginger. Gingerbread men with no ginger?! I rallied quickly and just replaced the ginger with cinnamon for some delicious Cinnamonbread men. The kids would never know. I let the dough cool, then got out the cookie cutters for the kids, and discovered... I had no flour left to roll the dough out onto! Oh geez. So the poor kids had to watch, longingly, as I carefully rolled the sticky dough out onto greaseproof paper with no flour. Anyway, in the end they got to cut out their shapes and bake them, decorate them and eat them. Good thing they ate them right away, though, because an hour later, they were hard as rocks.



Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Day 6

Yes, I have skipped Day 5. I have photos for Day 5 which have not been uploaded yet, and I don't have time just now to upload.

I barely have time to post Day 6, but I am trying.

Day 6's activity was to cut out snowflakes from colourful paper and hang in the windows. I would love to say this project went well, but truth be known, it did not even go.

I forgot Tuesdays are our Busy Day.

A normal Tuesday goes like this:
-Wake up, get kids ready, take Fifi to school for 9am.
-Go to Tesco for sandwich stuff for Toddlers for 10am.
-Go to Toddlers (preferably before 10am to set up) until 12pm.
-Go home and get kitchen ready for cleaner (and put babies to sleep)
-Cleaner comes just before 2pm.
-Leave before 3pm to pick up Fifi from school.
-Get Fifi and Lolly their snacks, then take them to ballet and tap at 4pm (until 6pm)
-While kids are at dance, take minded children for weekly grocery shop, ensuring I am home before 5pm (not easy).
-Get dinner on table as soon as possible (and before 5.15pm).
-Minded children get picked up anywhere between 5.30-6pm.
-Rush back to dance to pick up kids at 6pm.
-Give them their dinner and get them in bed before 7pm.
-Rush to Gaelic class which starts at 7pm.
-After Gaelic ends (9pm), I usually go to Craft Night for the last half (until about midnight).

The only difference with today was no Gaelic class, so I have an extra hour before Craft Night starts.

So as you can see, there was no time for snowflake making. Which means we will need to double up on projects tomorrow. Which will not be that easy either, as Fifi has Drama class at 4.30, but if we get home straight from school, that gives us an hour to have a snack and make some crafts.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Days 2, 3 and 4

I am awesome at this blogging every day thing, aren't I.

I have my excuses though. Last week, Monday through Saturday, I was performing as Principal Boy in a pantomime, and therefore had very little to no free time whatsoever. Now that the panto is over, I will have marginally more free time, but considering I am going to America in just over two weeks, I know I will still be very busy getting caught up with everything and ready to go.

So, Day 2:
The elves letter told them they were going to see the Panto with Daddy and Granny. Which they did. I managed to get them reserved seating in the front row, so there they sat, loving every minute of it. At least, Fifi did. Lolly was petrified. You can't blame her. The opening sequence is the Evil Sorceress and her demons in black cloaks and UV masks singing and dancing in the dark, with only their white glowing faces and white glowing hands. She never really recovered from that frightening experience. My character, the lead boy, doesn't appear on stage until the third scene. When I did, all I could hear was Lolly shouting, 'Mummy! Mum! Mum! Mummy!' I managed to keep a straight face, but oh, it was tough. Luckily, very soon into that scene, I am introduced to the audience, so I was then able to look directly at the girls and address them as the audience, which satisfied her.

Fifi, on the other hand, ate up every second of it. In panto, there is a lot of audience participation, and the cast gave her a lot of individual attention. At one point, the Baddie, a miser called Titus Tightwad, has the chance to pick on an audience member, and he chose Fifi and Lolly, which they loved. Later, one of the silly duo characters, while running through the audience chasing another character, ran up to Fifi and shouted, 'FOUND HER! Oh wait, it isn't her, it's only Princess Fifi!' Fifi was absolutely giddy at that point, and asked her daddy, 'How did she know I was Princess Fifi?!'

It was a good night. Even with Lolly finding it all a bit too scary and in-your-face, they had fun. And even took pictures with the Baddie in the end.



And of course, the Hero.


I asked Fifi what her favourite part was. She said all the parts I was in. I asked Lolly if she liked the show. She said, 'No.' I said, 'Did you like it when Mummy was singing?' and she said, 'No.'


Day 3:
Mummy was at panto all day doing a matinee show and then an evening show, so Daddy did this activity with them. They were to write their letters to Santa.

Daddy chose to have them list what they wanted and draw pictures of these things. Lolly had quite a bit of Daddy's help, but Fifi did her drawing herself and only asked Daddy to do the writing. Rather than describing them here, I scanned them in this morning to keep for life, before putting them in the fire place at Granny and Grampa's to be sent to Santa up the chimney. (Apparently, the smoke flies all the way to the North Pole, and it's magic smoke that Santa can decipher or something. This is what Scott and his brother and sister did as kids.)





Day 4:
Today, they were to check their email for messages from Santa. Oops... since I wasn't in until late last night, and because my darling husband let me have a nice long lie in this morning, I'd forgotten to prepare for this one. So I told the girls Santa hadn't been on the computer yet this morning, but normally gets all his emails sent by lunch time. Then I quickly put together these brilliant video emails from Portable North Pole. These are the messages they got from Santa this year.

Fifi's Email
Lolly's Email


And that is me all caught up for Advent Blogging for now.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

DecBloAdMo

Cheryl reminded me of something I had vaguely remembered this morning, but couldn't quite put my finger on.

DecBloAdMo.

December Blogging Advent Month.

So the idea, to remind you, is to blog each day of Advent on the run up to Christmas.


So for today, we'll start with the beginning of my Advent Activity calendar.

Last night, a friend excitedly commented that the next day was December and thus the day to open her Advent calendar.

I had completely forgotten about Advent Calendars.

Well, not completely. The chocolate ones (Peppa Pig, Hello Kitty for the kids, Disney Princesses and Thomas the Tank Engine for me and Scott) had been bought, and the felt ones made by Scott's Auntie Debbie had been filled with chocolate. But the important one, the Activity Calendar, hadn't been sorted yet. So late last night, I worked out 24 activities to get us ready for Christmas, printed them, cut them out, and stuffed them into their calendar.

It was so well worth the effort; this morning, Fifi and Lolly came bounding in, exclaiming that Santa had been and had filled their calendar with letters. (I tried to explain it was actually the 'elves' because Santa is too busy with other commitments, but Fifi insisted she had heard the sleigh bells last night and had seen Santa out the window, and besides, how would the elves fly without Santa? So who was I to argue?)

Today's activity will be to make paper chains to help count down to Christmas.

It's actually one of the least fun activities from my perspective, because they get bored halfway through, and heaven forbid the kit I bought will be the lick-n-stick sort rather than the self-adhesive. But it's sort of a ritual-turning-into-tradition, so I will just get on with it.

Below I've listed the activities for the month that we are doing in case anyone wants some ideas for your own family. Obviously some of them pertain only to our family, but it might give you some ideas for yourself.

And please, if you decide to blog about it, leave a comment and your blog address, so I can link to you!

Happy Advent Blogging!

1. Make paper chains and use them to count down Christmas!
2. Go to see ‘Goody Two Shoes’ Panto with Daddy and Granny!
3. Write and post our letters to Santa.
4. Check email for message from Santa.
5. Make paper lanterns to decorate for Christmas.
6. Cut colourful snowflakes and hang them in the window.
7. Make a family video e-card and send to family and friends.
8. Make gingerbread men for the Christmas tree and deliver some to neighbours.
9. Paint Christmas tree ornaments.
10. Have a Christmas picnic in our pajamas on the floor.
11. Go to Lolly’s birthday party!
12. Eat dinner by candlelight only with the fancy dishes.
13. Read a story about Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus.
14. Wrap up presents to take to America.
15. Make reindeer food and put in little bags for your friends.
16. Pack bags for a sleepover at Auntie Lorna’s!
17. Visit Santa at Daddy’s work.
18. Go to Christmas party at church.
19. Drink hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie.
20. Look through old photo albums and talk about the pictures.
21. Fly to America for Christmas!
22. Have a Christmas dinner with Mamaw’s family.
23. Build a fire with Musha.
24. Put out a carrot for Rudolph and milk and cookies for Santa.
25. Eat chocolate gravy for breakfast and open presents!!



(Want to read about last year? Day 1, 2010)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Am (Not) A Superhero*

Trying to be perfect and trying to appear perfect are serious struggles for me. I don't like many of the things I do, so I brush them under a carpet and pretend they aren't there. I worry what people will think of me if they know about my shortfalls. I know I am not alone in this, but I still hate to admit flaws in my nature. Usually admittance of a flaw is followed by an explanation, or let's face it, an excuse or justification. If I'm wrong as a one-off, I find it easier to admit and deal with than if I am facing an ongoing struggle.

I kind of feel this desire right now to admit a few things about me that I'm not proud of. I know that my issues aren't 'The Biggies' (I'm not addicted to heroin or a cheating wife), but they are things that make me feel less good about myself. They are things that I try over and over again to correct but still end up doing or being. All right, here are some examples, with no excuses attached...

*I gossip about people a lot. Sometimes quite maliciously.
*I sometimes spank my children.
*I shout at my children far, far too often.
*I sometimes get pleasure in seeing other people fail.
*I am conceited and judgmental.
*I enjoy getting drunk now and again.
*I don't always believe in God.
*I don't clean my toilet every day.

Okay, I had to throw that last one in because I was starting to feel a bit too vulnerable there! Although frankly, I am embarrassed to admit I don't clean my toilet every day, because I really should.

But there, now that I've admitted a few things about myself, I can now stand in front of you and say, 'I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. I would like to be perfect one day but must just hope that the Bible is true, and I will one day be made perfect like Christ, because I can never be perfect here on earth.'

But I will keep trying. And my hope is that by admitting a few things, I might be taking another step in the right direction.


*Title stolen from my friend Corinne's amazing book Ralph Is (Not) A Superhero. Go buy it now!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree! - Part 1

This post has been split into 2 parts. For ease of reading, I've put Part 1 second so that it will be read first. Something to do with Matthew 20.16 or something maybe.

********

Time for that once-a-month post!

(And that's really stretching it, because I hardly post once a month.)

But let's talk Christmas. I usually talk Christmas at least once a year here at the dying-a-slow-and-painful-death "Scott and Lori" blog.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and usually I wait until after Thanksgiving to get all Christmasy. But this year, I'm going to America for Christmas (yay!), and so I feel like I'll be missing some exclusive Christmas time in the house because of it. Therefore, I want to put up my tree NOW.

But Scott says no. *Pouty face.

That hasn't stopped me from watching only Christmas DVDs and listening to Christmas music. The current rotation in the DVD player has been Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Nativity!, A Christmas Story, and Garfield's Holiday Collection. Still to come out are A Nativity Story, It's a Wonderful Life, and Charlie Brown's Christmas. Not to mention Dora's Christmas and Peppa Pig's Christmas. In the CD player, I've been enjoying the Nativity! soundtrack and Glee's Christmas soundtrack. Gotta get out my Absolute Christmas compilation, and I must Must MUST find my all-time favourite - PlaySkool's Christmas Lullabies! Have the case, but the CD's not in it!

Scott says I can put up the tree next week. I'm very excited. We will then get to enjoy it for four weeks before hopping a plane and flying home for the first Christmas in 8 years. Eight Christmases ago (not counting this one to come), I was living in an apartment with Ingrid and Amanda, eagerly awaiting the arrival of my boyfriend Scott from Scotland who was coming the day after Christmas to see me. He arrived, and a week later told me he wanted to marry me. That year, I spent Christmas with my mom and dad and brothers and their girlfriends.

Oh Christmas Tree! - Part 2

My, how different this Christmas will be.

This year I'll be spending part of Christmas with my mom and new step-dad and step-brother and step-sister, and the other part of Christmas with my dad and new step-mom (but not my three step-sisters and one step-brother). I will also be spending it with one brother and his wife, but not the other brother. I will hopefully be going to visit my brother-and-sister-in-law and two nieces as well. What a change it will be.

I have never met my step-mom and have only ever met my step-dad in a context outside step-family. I have never seen my mom or dad with different people. In fact, I've never seen them apart. Both have come to visit separately since their divorce, but I've never been in my childhood home without both parents there. I've never had to do the divorced thing, time with one parent equals time with the other. I hope both parents recognise that upon visiting their homes that very first time, and meeting their new spouses that first time, they are going to need to let me retreat quietly to another room for a moment to shed some serious tears. What a weird, surreal experience this all will be.

I am looking forward to my trip, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, and seeing my house, and having Christmas with my actual, biological family. But I'm not sure how I'm going to cope with so much change at once. I can't wait to meet my brother's new baby, and I look forward to seeing my Texan nieces and family, and there's even a tiny chance I might get to meet my new Georgian step-siblings. And I'm looking forward to meeting my new step-mom and step-dad and all those step-siblings and step-nieces and nephews that are attached to them. But I'm just not looking forward to seeing my little family all broken up and patched up so differently from how I've always known it and how I always believed it would be.

So much innocence gets lost when you grow up.

Growing up really, truly sucks. Having your foundation cracked and crumbled right from underneath you really sucks.

But I suppose that's when all these wise people say you really become stronger. I don't know anything about construction, but I suppose having to rebuild your foundation and building it according to your own specifications and needs probably indeed gives you something firmer to stand on for the future.


****
Ha. Tricked you with that happy and joyful Christmas music crap didn't I! I kinda tricked myself too... I didn't sit down to write anything sad and depressing, I genuinely started out just wanting to beg Scott to let me put up the tree now! So that's why I've split this post into two parts. Enjoy one, and then don't enjoy the other very much.

Monday, October 10, 2011

NaBloPoMo

November is only a month away - who thinks I can succeed?!

Only got five minutes to post, but I suppose a 5 minuter is better than a nothinger.

So - quick update on what I'm up to:

*Childminding
*Teaching TinyTalk
*Rehearsing for Disney's Beauty and the Beast (I'm a florist villager and an enchanted fork!)
*Rehearsing for the Christmas pantomime 'Goody Two Shoes' (I'm Simon, the Principal Boy)
*Taking Gaelic night classes
*Going to BodyPump (weight training)
*Going to Aqua-Zumba (well, I'm starting this week, we'll see how I like it)

Is that all? I think that's all. I also have a bunny rabbit now. His name is Chewbacca.

And that's my 5 minutes up. More eventually.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Lori's Pet Hates of Social Media Usage - The What-Not-To-Do's

I appreciate social media as much as the next girl. I appreciate wanting perfect strangers to know intimate details of your life. I have a blog, I have a Facebook account, I have an unused Twitter account. I get it. I'm down with it. But what I'm not down with is the way some people use the internet to, well, do the following.

These are a few pet hates (pet peeves if you are in America) of mine regarding social media. They are the things I wish to goodness people wouldn't do, because they are annoying. And ignorant. And down-right inappropriate. So here I go. I may come across a bit self-important here, but that is the sole reason social media exists. And you'll find that narcissism isn't one of my pet hates.

#1: Spelling and/or txt spkFirst let's just start with the basics. Spelling. Grammar. This is not because I am a linguaphile. Or maybe it is, but not entirely. It's just that text speak is of the devil. And okay, just because u r on fb on ur fone doesnt mean u shuld stop spking englsih. ffs pls rite properly bc u make smart ppl want 2 kill u, omg. do u think ur teacher in skool wuld except this on ur homewrok? o u say u arent n skool so wtf? omg u r rite wat was i thinking lol.Yeah, um, did you start to feel your head spin, your heart rate increase, your blood pressure rise, the sweat form on your brow when reading that? No? Then you are a perpetrator and you must be stopped.

#2: Vague Calls to SympathyOne of the most annoying things people can do is leave a message on Facebook like, 'Some people. Do they even care who they hurt?' Or 'That's it, I'm done. Who needs friends like her anyway?' And then almost equally annoying is the numerous comments saying, 'Oh hunny, u ok? [[[[Hugs]]]]]' or 'fone me if u need to talk'. GAH. WHY do people do this? If you are that hungry for love and attention, get a dog. But please, do NOT do this next thing.

#3: Hang Out Your Dirty LaundryCan we say embarrassing? Not to mention inappropriate? Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than someone sharing with the world (and thus me) the not so pleasant dirty dealings of their personal lives. It reminds me of this really bad first date I went on once where half an hour into it, the guy tells me he has a serious problem with pornography. There are some things we don't need to know. If you have been to work five weeks in a row with a hangover, you aren't doing yourself many favours by broadcasting it. If you hooked up with a rando while drunk and on the prowl last weekend and you are soooo embarrassed, we don't actually want to know (or care). If your husband blows up at you and insults you during in couple's argument, please don't share it with the internet. In fact, that should be an item number all to itself. Don't talk crap about your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend online. Because, in case you don't understand how the human mind works, people who don't personally know your spouse/partner will then think he or she is a jackass, and that you are a sad, pitiful, victimized weakling for staying with them. Not to mention, it is utterly disrespectful.

#4: Documenting Your Every Move(ment)Some people clearly have nothing better to do than blog or tweet or status update every mundane detail of their incredibly mundane lives. 'Just ate a sandwich. Now I need a drink.' Or 'Spent the last ten minutes in a daze while driving to work.' Or my personal favourite: 'At work and bored.' As a 'friend', I will block you from my feeds for this. As an employer, I would block you from your internet connection. Please, if you don't have something of interest to say, don't say anything at all.

And finally...

#5: Leaving Your Account Vulnerable to 'Frape'The misogynistic undertones devaluing rape thanks to this word aside, do people not protect their phones? Who still does not have some sort of code/number/word/pattern for securing their phones? And why do people leave their phones lying around when they get up to go to the toilet or the bar? Or is it that (and this I assume is more likely) people actually enjoy getting 'fraped', so they just intentionally leave their phones lying around unsecured for their friends to write stupid and usually obscene Facebook updates with? I think I have only ever twice laughed over a 'frape'; once was when someone allegedly announced her pregnancy and then was greeted with numerous mistaken congratulations, and then once when someone went into the profile page of a friend and changed the birthday so that the person was inundated with erroneous birthday greetings. Those were actually kinda funny. So I guess actually what I should say is this: If you are not funny enough to come up with a good prank, don't bother. Because no one actually thinks Mark suddenly loves the man parts and has decided to announce his new homosexual lifestyle this way via Facebook. And I am willing to bet his Facebook-using grandmother doesn't think it's very funny either.

Rant over. lol.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Glam Girls

Scott took the girls for a walk today to get them out of my hair while I tackled the disaster that was our bedroom. He took them to the Pound Shop and let them pick a toy each. Lolly chose one of those rubbery-bouncy light up toys that are totally gross, and Fifi picked a make-up kit. Scott thought it was plastic until they got home, and Fifi opened it to find 'real make-up!' So of course, we had to do make-overs.




Then of course Fifi wanted to give me a make-over too. No way was I going to allow that disgusting gellified gunk on my face, so I took out my stage make-up and let her go to town on me.



Afterwards, she asked me, 'Mum, tomorrow can I sit in our close with a jar and when the neighbours want their make-up done, I will do their make-up and they can pay me?'

Friday, September 02, 2011

Post 1,200!

There is a bit of pressure with this post as (as you can see) it is Post No. 1,200! And I haven't posted anything since... April?

Shameful.

In my lame defense... I've been busy?

But no really, I have!

And I thought (back in... April?) that if I refreshed the blog's look that I would get back into blogging but it's pretty obvious that, no.

Anyway, I'm sitting here on a Friday night in a cleanish living room with hair dye in my hair and thought, 'Oh to heck with it, I'll just write that 1,200th post.'

So here's what's on my mind:
The hubby said to me tonight, 'There are some good jobs I'd be qualified for in Bentonville' or something to that effect. And then the wheels in my head started turning, how I could move back to Fayetteville, be only hours away from my family, go back to work in my old place. My stomach started to get all butterflyish, though that could've just been the pizza I had for dinner, and I can't help but daydream about moving back home.

But then I really love it here. I love Scotland.

Oh, by the way, Arkansans, don't get your hopes up! I'm only daydreaming here!

So yeah, I mean, I have a good life here. I have amazing friends, two good self-run businesses, a nice flat, a fulfilling hobby in amateur dramatics, wonderful parents-in-law and sister/brother-in-law and nephew, and really great winter clothes. Could I really leave all that?

But if I went back to Fayetteville, I'd have old friends I would hopefully reunite with, JR's and the real proper indie music scene, a better choice of churches, my family only hours away, some of my best friends only hours away, and could start a nice collection of really great summer clothes.

But here in Scotland, Fifi goes to a good school where she is learning to speak Gaelic in a class of only 10, and we have the NHS, and we don't have Republicans or Democrats.

But in Arkansas, they don't have Labour or drug addicts using your tax money to get wasted and then pee on your walls while stabbing you with a broken Buckfast bottle.

But in Scotland, we don't have Republicans or Democrats. Or American Christians. Or patriotic Americans. Or Americans who think Scotland is part of England.

(Sorry, I'm perhaps a bit too British now in my opinion of Americans.)

Hmm...

So that's what's been on my mind tonight. And by now, my hair dye is ready to wash out.

So, that's that. Number 1,200. Maybe I'll reach 1,210 by December!



Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
-from The Book of Common Prayer, Ash Wednesday liturgy

May this season of Lent be not one of mere dieting and exercising self-control, nor one of empty religiosity, but one of heart-felt contrition and repentance. God, please mould me into your image. I don't know if I even resemble you at all anymore.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For Fifi and Kieran

No one else will get this. No one else will care. But as promised, you two, I shall post what is written in my little notebook... I did promise to do this the night it took place, didn't I?

Back last summer after rounders, Fifi (not my daughter Fifi, my friend) and I drank hot chocolates in the Spinnaker Hotel while Kieran drank a poncy green tea, and Fifi and I received a battery of insults from Kieran, which we then began to record. Over the evening, Kieran managed to call us or insinuate that we were:
Fat (for drinking hot chocolates and overall unhealthy eating)
Lazy
insane
(I believe for admitting we talk to ourselves)
"mums & teachers" (said in a disparaging tone)
old (just because we're older than him!)
hopeless/ lost cause (probably for the hot chocolates, as if we could never change)
strange


So in response, we drafted a little list of insults for Kieran:
BORING
weird
slow
simple
no on/off button
(because of all the insults he kept accidentally hurling!)
no brain
MALE
(yes)
feminine (haha yes!)

And now that I know both of them better, about nine months later or so, I think actually these lists (minus the fat!) are all fairly true! (And minus the 'no brain', too, Kiero.)

And since no one else will get this or get why I posted it, it's up to you two to read this! (And comment?)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sun!

Today IS a perfect, lazy day. The sun in shining brightly. So why am I inside on the computer? I have a cold. And because I'm lazy.

But we are about to go out. We need to pick Scott up from work at 5, so I'm gonna get the kids bundled up (it's still cold), and we're gonna go for a walk down the waterfront until it's time to pick up Daddy.

Love the sun!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Books, Oceans and Greener Pastures

Scott linked this to me. I think it's perfect.

Don't Date a Girl Who Reads

I love it. It is so right.

'... A girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment.'

I absolutely love this. This put in words something I've never articulated before. Life is like an ocean. It ripples and waves, it has moments of perfect calm in between the tidal waves and tsunamis. Just as the storms on a wave eventually pass, so do the 'flows of disappointment'. I'm a realist. I don't expect perfection or a life that steadily goes up or down. I know people and relationships are both rubbish and wonderful. I don't believe that bad times must signify the end. Every life and every relationship will inevitably be full of all kinds of bitterness, disappointment, contentment, laughter, anger, tears, kisses and hugs. To hold on to the negative only leads you to search for greener pastures. But greener pastures only look pleasant from the outside. Once you are over the fence, the imperfections start to show and what will you do then? Start collecting bitterness again, only to start closing in on yet another ending?

What I mean to say is, that's life. Deal with it.

The girl in the above essay left; 'she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on... The girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.'

I get this. On the other hand, I do get this. Okay, so maybe moving onto greener pastures isn't a measure of doing something blindly and irrationally. Maybe it's just the next paragraph or chapter. I suppose this is the problem with being able to accept life without letting the sadness end you. It's easy to move on. Just as I have turned the last page to many a book and regretted that there was no more, yet an hour later have moved on to the next adventure, it is easy to see life as a series of novels, each beginning and ending with some pain, but not death.

So which is it? Do you stick with it because life will always be full of ups and downs and greener pastures won't change that, or do you move on because life is just a series of beginnings and endings, each with little plots and heroes that will only be marginally missed?

I'm putting this mostly in terms of marriage at the moment, because the essay is about a relationship, and because recently my world was as torn apart as it has ever been by my parents' divorce.

I've not yet written about my parents' divorce on here, because of anything I've ever experienced in my life, this has ripped me to pieces more deeply than anything else.

(Mom, Dad, you may want to stop reading here.)

You always expect your parents to be together. At least I did. I truly believed they'd be together forever, and I walked into my own marriage with my parents as my foundation. If they could last it, then so could I. Commitment, love, hard work, all the rest, that's what it takes to make a marriage work. So we can do it, because they could.

Then, suddenly (I mean really suddenly, to me anyway) they couldn't.

My rug was pulled out from under me.

Suddenly I had no place to put my feet. Suddenly I started to feel myself slipping, slipping, slipping, arms grasping at anything to stop me from crashing and falling. Commitment? Hard work? LOVE? What was the point? It obviously WASN'T enough. It wasn't enough for them, so how can I believe it's enough for me? None of it is enough. There is no point.

It was the darkest period in the history of my life. If my life really were a long novel that I'm only still reading, it would feel too much like the climax that no one wanted to have happen, but the author has come to feel in his guts was where it was leading, where it had to lead, like it or not, because it's reality and a good novelist will always sacrifice all, even his characters, to the great cause of Reality. At this point in the novel of my life, there would be two, three, maybe only four chapters left. It must end here or the reader will get bored.

So it felt. The story must end here.

And in a way, it kind of did. For months I gave up. For months I saw no reason to put forth all that effort into my own marriage. Why bother? We won't last. We'll just end up divorced like everyone else. There's no point.

But slowly, though maybe it was really only a few chapters later, I closed in on the ending. Maybe our lives are more like a series, not just one novel. That novel ended. It ended with the discovery that something else is needed in life, marriage, besides commitment, hard work and love.

Realism.

That ocean thing. If we live our lives as if they were best-sellers, then yeah, we're fucked. But if you live your life like a classic, or rather an entire library of classics, you begin to see that ebb and flow of a 'life [that] is not planar'. If you expect the climax of your life to happen only once, then after it's over, what do you do with the anti-climax? Do you leave? End yourself? Do you despair? Do you search for another thrill? Yet, if you can accept that all the great climaxes must be followed by disappointment or anger or boredom, and then if you can expect for all the great tragedies to be followed by contentedness, calmness, okayness, or even just another level playing field, you begin to see life for what it is. It is like an EKG line. Straightish rippling lines followed by a sharp incline/deep decline followed by more straightish rippling lines.

I look now at what Scott and I have and see it more for what it is. We need commitment, love and hard work to thrive. We'll never make it without those things. We also need to see reality and accept what is for what is. To close our eyes and say such and such will never happen to us is foolish. To shut our eyes and pretend away feelings that really are there, ignore issues that won't go away and walk and talk like a perfect Christian couple is stupid.

So with all this, our relationship has developed a newer level of honesty and trust. It's a trust that is not blind, not ignorant, but 100% because it has to be. So a new novel has begun, one with a plot I haven't figured out yet. It's just the start, this new story about a girl who has had her eyes opened to the reality of marriage and life and is figuring out a new way to make it work separate from the way the generation before her did it, but very separate also from the way her own generation is doing it. The pages are still fresh, the binding unbent.

Yet never forgetting that access to the old stories are still close at hand, because you should never forget the lessons learned in earlier books you've read, because they all work together to create your own library of experiences, which build that heartbeat line of a life that is not planar.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Too Busy To Blog

No time for frivolous internet idleness. (Don't look at my Facebook, because you might think I DO have time for frivolous internet idleness.)

But no really, between rehearsals, work, completing my childminding application (more on that later) and keeping the house clean - oh yeah, and those kids, they take up a bit of time - I really haven't had much time to just relax.

But now, with the house clean (don't look too closely at my kitchen though) and about six loads of laundry FINALLY folded and sorted, I am going to go do something I haven't done properly since Monday...

I'm taking a shower.

No, to hell with it, I'm taking a BATH. And you know what I'm gonna do? Do you want to know?! I'M GONNA SHAVE MY LEGS. Yeah, take THAT, over-crowded schedule!

AdiĆ³s.

P.S. Things to add to the above time-killers that I need/want to fit in: tennis, sewing, and Gaelic lessons.

P.P.S. What the heck is happening with time? Did someone speed up the life-clock? It's near the end of January. Huh?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Naughty Words

I've always heard how nursery totally messes with your child's linguistic habits but hadn't seen it myself yet.

Until this morning.

I made the girls toast and set before Fifi a toast rack which she loves to use when there is toast. Her response?

"Ooh, it's the toast hingmy!"

Ugh. If there is one West-of-Scotland-ism that I hate most it is without a shadow of a doubt THAT word. It is sickening. It is ugly. It sounds like someone clearing his throat of a giant phlegm ball. From the moment I arrived here, it was the word I loathed the most. Many other strange Scottishisms I've eventually picked up - glaikit, eejit, bisom, minging, boggin', pished, crabbit - but that word... "hingmy" still makes me want to puke.

I don't often make a fuss over my kids' language. If I hear them repeat a "not nice" word, I try to not make a big deal over it, only gently correct, because I figure making a big deal over it will only increase the interest in that word. Fifi's come out before with a few choice words (most likely learned from music actually... we still haven't gotten around to censoring our car music), and I always reply with something like, "Fifi, that's not a nice word. Some people use that word, I know, but it doesn't sound very nice and it makes some people upset to hear it."

But when she called the toast rack this morning a toast "hingmy"? My response: "Fifi! That is a terrible word! We don't use that word in this family! Where did you ever learn that word?!"

She could've dropped the F-bomb and gotten a calmer response. Ew.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Fifi's Glasses

Just over a month or so ago, an optician came to Fifi's nursery to do a routine screening. I was given a note saying her vision on one eye appeared reduced, and she'd be scheduled for another screening at the hospital. That screening was today, and I was really nervous about it. She's only a wee thing, and it seems such a shame for such a wee girl to need glasses. But I tried to stay positive and think that maybe it would turn out a false alarm.

We went in this afternoon, and Fifi was an absolute champion. They gave her a few eye tests, like watch this ribbon, which box has the ball in it, what colour is this, etc. They then put wee little opticians spectacles on her (cute ones that looked like little flowers) and did a proper eye test, where she held a sheet of 6 different letters and the nurse held up a card with the letters ranging in size and had her pick from her own card which letter she was pointing to. Sure enough, as the letters got smaller, Fifi's ability to pick them out lessened.

She was then given 'magical eye drops' that would make her eyes 'shine' (e.g. dilate). We went for a wee pancake and juice in the cafe while we waited for the drops to work, then went in for an actual eye exam. The optician checked her eyes with a flashlight and all the rest and concluded that she did indeed need glasses. My heart sunk. Fifi seemed happy enough, but I had to fight back a tear. She was written a prescription for glasses and away we went.

Next stop was Reid Mackellars to look at glasses. Luckily (for us) the NHS provides certain styles of glasses for children, so we looked at the free ones first. Fifi had her heart set on purple ones, but there were no purple ones in the free section. She found a gorgeous little pair of purple ones that even I admit I was tempted by, but finally I decided on the pink free ones. She was a bit disappointed (though the pink ones are lovely on her, very suitable for her hair and skin colour), so I made her a deal. If she takes very good care of her pink glasses and shows us how responsible she can be with them, we will buy her the purple ones. She was satisfied with that.

I know that it's good really that she's getting these. At her age, there's a chance glasses will correct her vision impairment, and she won't need them forever. But on the other hand, she's so young, and I don't want her to be considered the nerdy kid for having glasses. Which is why I really could've been swayed with the funky purple ones she liked! (Also, I figure once the novelty wears off, it's gonna be hard to get her to wear them, especially if she's not that keen on them!) But oh well. Glasses aren't the end of the world. And I have a feeling that little girl will know how to rock them. She's pretty confident, and I think she has the ability to totally make them look cool. One thing I swear: I will NOT make her ever wear dorky glasses for any reason short of absolute poverty.

She'll get her glasses in about a week. I'll post pictures of them then. I'm glad Fifi's so excited about them. I've been acting really excited too, for her sake. But inside, I'm just a dorky kid with glasses myself, and I am pretty upset for her.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Positive Outlook for the New Year

Thank you God

Thank you God, for all I have to do today.
Thank you for this sink of dirty dishes,
It shows we have plenty to eat.

Thank you, for this pile of dirty, stinky, laundry,
It shows we have plenty of clothes to wear.

Thank you for those unmade beds in there,
They were warm and so comfortable last night
And I know there are many who have no beds.

Thank you for this bathroom complete with all the
Spattered mirror, soggy grimy towels and dirty commode,
They are so convenient.

Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator
That needs defrosting,
It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers
For two or three meals.

Thanks God, for this oven
That absolutely must cleaned today,
It has baked so many things over the years.

The whole family is grateful for that grass that needs mowing,
The lawn that will need raking, we all enjoy the yard.

Thank you even for that slamming screen door,
My children are healthy and able to run and play.

Lord the presence of all these chores awaiting me
Says you have richly blessed my family.
I shall do them all cheerfully
And I shall do them gratefully.

Amen

-Author Unknown

Copied from the Motivated Moms website. Go get your chore schedule, it's only $8/£5.50!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

40 Questions

40 Questions I Answer Annually:


1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Bought a tent and went camping with my family. Granted, we only went once, but I blame it on having started too late in the season. This summer, we'll be ready to go first thing.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?
Last year, Scott and I made resolutions for each other. Neither of us succeeded. I was supposed to get back into writing poetry. I wrote about one poem. BUT I did get back into something else... Theatre!

This year I have a long list of resolutions:
*Maintain chore schedule (I did okay on it last year, but could do better this year)
*Eat a healthier diet
*Blog more
*Finish reading through the Bible
*If I remember the rest (I've not actually written them all down), I'll add them (maybe).
EDITED TO ADD:
*Stop shouting (full stop)/ control anger


3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Amanda and Rodger had Eilidh, Sheryl and Novi had Kayla.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My friend Shirley's husband died this year. I just can't imagine.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Tain in the Highlands was the farthest I travelled.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Money. Any amount of money would do.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory?

9-11 of September was Footloose. I'll remember that. And I'll remember 4-6 November when we went to Glenmorangie House!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Auditioning for and performing in my first on-stage theatre show in ten years! Everybody cut Footloose!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting signed off as a Breastfeeding Network Supporter. That one still stings.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing more than the usual colds, etc.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
That bottle of Glenmorangie Original that won us our free trip away!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
It's hard to answer this question, but this year I think I'll say Scott. Not only does he work his bum off everyday at a thankless job, but he then has let me go out several nights each week to play rehearsals and nights out with friends too. And that's besides the nights I'm working. He's been so patient and understanding about my newfound hobby. And encouraging too.

And beyond that, he's really been there for me as I go through all the emotional ups and downs I've experienced over the last year and a half with my parents' divorce. He's a really good, wonderful, loving husband. I even forgive him for not taking out the trash as often as he should. (But hey, boy, do it anyway!)


13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I think it's time to change this question. I never give it a serious answer, because the Blogosphere is not the place to hang your dirty laundry, or talk about people who have appalled or depressed you. So I'm changing it to...

13b. What regrets do you have about the past year?
Geez, I've replaced a hard one with a hard one. I regret the way I've spoken to my children on many occasions. Yes, Lolly is in the midst of her 'terrible twos' and Fifi can be a trying four year old, but some days I've just not been the mother I want to be to them. I hope I can change that.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills, bills, bills. Wasn't that a song by Blaque?

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Footloose! And then getting the part of Shelby in Steel Magnolias!!

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2010?

The Decemberists - Hazards of Love. Oh my heavens' sake, why did it take me so long to get into them? Only one other album has ever moved me so deeply, and I'll remember lying on the carpet in the living room in the dark, listening to this album late at night, trying to learn every word of every song and just feeling more alive than I ever have before. (Which is the same memory I have of that other album, Flaming Lips' Yoshimi, only that carpet was in mine and Katie's duplex in Fayetteville, and the carpet was nicer.)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

happier or sadder? just as happy with the same moments of great sadness.
thinner or fatter? fatter, but maybe that was just the New Year's steak pie.
richer or poorer? I daresay poorer. Sucktastic.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Tennis, healthy eating, reading.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Shouting at my little darlings. I really need to get on the Agnus Castus (mark that up there on my resolutions.)

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Kids woke us up at 6. Santa had been. Opened presents. Kids peaked and crashed by 7. We all went back to bed except Fifi who stayed up playing with all the new toys until we got back up around 9.30 or 10. Then we had Christmas dinner at in-laws with Scott's family (minus Faisal, who had to work.)

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
My mom and my dad. Separately. (Cue sad moment.)

22. What's your best memory from 2010?
Hmm. Trying to remember early on. But definitely performing in Footloose is one. Playing my first game of tennis in the summer with Kieran is another. Getting drunk with my sisters-in-law Katie and Rebekkah and my mum-in-law Marion and pouring our hearts out to each other, that is a great memory. And a great early on in the year memory would be going to the Tontine with Maria for our 'weekly' session (it happened that once) and getting drunk and making all kinds of plans that of course were ridiculous once we were sober. Ah, and even though it just happened, I think my night out with Carol and Maria to Flava and (again) getting drunk and having a great laugh with two of my favourite people in the world should be included. And speaking of favourite people, all summer hanging out with Heather and her wonderful daughters made for a very happy summer full of memories.

But best of all? Glenmorangie House with Scott and close friends.

23. How have you seen yourself grow as a person this year?
Yikes, easy on the hard ones (I made this one up last year). I've realised that maybe I'm not the kind of mum who can handle having hundreds of kids. I apparently do have a limit, which, while in the serene breastfeeding baby stage I never realised. But I've also realised that I control my own temper and my own attitudes and I just need to do that more often. I've learned I really, truly do need ritual and organisation in my life to keep me calm and sane. I've also (surprisingly) learned that I need a life outside my home. I've been content to be 'just a mum' up until this point, but now my kids are getting older, I've come to realise I need 'me' time again. As much as I would like to have at least one more child, I'm not sure I could go back to all that again. I guess I've just learned I am not and cannot be supermum; I can only be what I am, but on that I can improve.

24. What was your favourite TV programme(s)?

My new ones this year were Bodies and Glee.

25. What one special thing would you like to do in 2011?

I'm adding to this question. It will now be:

What one special thing would you like to do in 2011 and what other special plans do have for this year?
I'm doing that because what I would LIKE to do and what I PLAN to do are two different things, usually. I would LIKE to go back to America one last time before Fifi starts school. Won't happen though. :( I PLAN to become a childminder and start contributing again to our income. (TinyTalk, by the way, is actually doing much better this year, which is what I hoped for last year. So yay! But it's still not a stable enough income to live on.)

26. What was the best book(s) you read?
I didn't read a lot this year, which sucks but I've been rereading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner and it is pure breaking my heart all over again. Big recommendation, folks.

I also read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Maybe not one for everyone, ha, but it has been excellent for me, the hippy natural girl.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Decemberists. Who I'm going to see in February! (Also going to see Ben Folds in March, but he's hardly a new discovery for me. Though his new album is new. And it's gooood.)


28. What did you want and get?

The part of Shelby in Steel Magnolias. And a job at Blockbuster.

29. What did you want and not get?
A trip back to America for my ten year high school reunion.

30. What were your favourite films of this year?

The Greatest and My Name is Khan. Both made me cry numerous times throughout. So, so good.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 28 and had a murder mystery party at my house. It was good fun.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

My year was actually very satisfying as it was. But yeah, I guess having gone home for reunion would've done it. But hey, we're in a depression. I'm lucky we are doing as well as we are.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Allowing myself to still feel young enough to pull off 'young' fashion. I allowed myself to wear shorter skirts with leggings, skinny jeans, and dresses with tights and ankle boots. Thanks, Thomas, for thinking I was only 19! It did my self-esteem wonders.

34. What kept you sane?

Developing my own life again. That includes going to rehearsals for shows, playing tennis, and getting into some new music. On the family front, spending time with people like Heather and Maria REALLY helped. They are both so motivated to do fun, outdoorsy stuff with their kids, and Heather in particular helps me feel calm and eager to control my anger when the kids are driving me bonkers.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Strangely, Leonardo DiCaprio. Yeah, I'm not 17 again (but I did love him in Titanic), but no really, he's been in some great films recently. Shutter Island, Inception, yeah, he's kinda gotten hot again.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Global Warming. Is it or isn't it?

37. Who did you miss?
All the mums I used to spend so much time with, but that I stopped seeing when I stopped doing breastfeeding support. I still see the IBfM committee at meetings, but feel very out of the loop now. So I miss those girls.

38. Who was the best new person (people) you met?
I met so many lovely people doing Footloose (and panto), it would be hard to name them all, and I wouldn't want to offend anyone. But I'll go ahead and give the short-but-by-no-means-conclusive list: Pauline B, Pauline C, Kieran, Lee, Lynda, and Jacqui T. There are so many others to add, but those are the people who have actually been in my house, so that's got to mean a bit more than just 'show-friend'ness. (But I'd still want to add Julie and Gordy who have not been to my house but that I *heart*.)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

I think I covered that in the how-I've-grown-as-a-person question... or maybe I just answered the wrong question up there. But a valuable life lesson? Grow to trust yourself and accept yourself, particularly the stuff you don't like or don't want. You don't have to tell other people what ugliness exists, but once you've acknowledged these things you see in yourself, you can begin to change them. But if you hide it from yourself, it just lingers and eats away at you and will even spill out when you're not being careful. And if there is something you like in yourself that you are afraid to show, try showing it in little bursts and see where it takes you (like auditioning for a musical!)

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
There's no business like show business
Like no business I know.
Everything about it is appealing,
Everything the traffic will allow.
No where could you have that happy feeling
When you aren't stealing that extra bow.

There's no people like show people,
They smile when they are low.
Yesterday they told you you would not go far,
That night you opened and there you are.
Next day on your dressing room they've hung a star'
Let's go on with the show!
I must be on some kind of New Year 'Spring' Cleaning sort of thing. I've been organising and cleaning like crazy. (No, I'm not pregnant.) I think a trip to IKEA is in order. No, scratch that. I KNOW it is in order. And Scott is going to take me tomorrow morning. I can't exactly afford what it is that I want, but I'm getting it anyway. Surely the joy of an immaculate kids' room is worth a little nail-biting until pay day? And besides, if I don't buy it now, the sale will end and I'll have to pay full price for it, so why wait?

I've also been motivated to organise because Thursday evening, Fifi and Lolly's Christmas present from Musha arrived - their new doll house. So today, since they are are Granny and Grampa's house, I built it (with only a tiny bit of help from Scott when I stripped a screw trying to force it in). Then I needed a place to put it where it would be safe but accessible. So I rearranged some stuff in the kids' room, rearranged some stuff in the study and then rearranged some stuff in the living room to make it all work. Now their lovely new doll house is set up in the living room (where I can watch they don't destroy it), and it makes me ever so happy. I purposely ordered (well, it was 'from' Musha meant he sent me the money for it and then I ordered it from here) one that was unpainted and unfinished so I could do the decorating myself... with maybe a BIT of input from the kids. I'm going to paint it, wallpaper the inside and maybe even carpet/tile. I can't wait! Project!!

(I always wanted a doll house. Scott thinks I'll enjoy it more than them.)

(It even has a little toilet!)

So now, it's time to go to Andy and Marion's for our traditional New Year's Day steak pie dinner. Mmmm. Last night we had a Hogmanay party at our house, but so many people cancelled because of illness that it ended up being only Scott and me, Sarah and Ian, and Matt and Cheryl. But saying that, it was a great time and I really enjoyed the whole night. We drank mulled wine, wound Scott up by discussing our conspiracy theories (I think he nearly exploded at one point), and generally had a great laugh. Cheryl and I *almost* put in the Dance on Broadway for the Wii until we realised that at that very moment, we were three minutes away from midnight, so we ended up celebrating instead. I'll need to just Dance on Broadway by myself (unless any of you are takers and want to come over??)

So anyway, today is the start of all my various resolutions. I'll see how well I do with the 'healthy eating'/'common sense' diet thing. Considering I ate homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, I'm not off to a good start. But that's the beauty of this diet. It's just a GENERAL eat more healthily diet. No rules, just common sense.

Happy new year!