Thursday, November 29, 2007

Playing Hooky Turned Out to Be Tooky

Lest anyone think I was boasting in that last post(which I really wasn't meaning to by the way. I just get so sick of everywhere we go, people in stores, family members, etc. asking my kids "what do you want for Christmas?" I hate that we just train them to be greedy this time of year and I am so grateful they don't have a list ready when someone asks them. Now if I could just figure out a way to get people to quit asking!), I think I should share my yesterday's fiasco with the group.

Well, we pulled Amabel out of school for the day to have pictures made for my mom's birthday. Rachael Catherine, do not tell her. Ahem, anyway, we made a morning out of going to see the annual Christmas train exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. If you live in St. Louis, you have to go! We have gotten to go every year for the past three years and it is one thing I will definitely miss next year. Every year there is a different theme and there are all different buildings and houses set up. This year's theme is Yellowstone National Park. There is even a working geyser! So how much fun to take your four year old who loves trains and your daughter who should be in school on a fun morning outing? Not very much, let me tell ya. First of all, we have the daughter who says she would really rather be in school. Second of all we have the four year old who does a strange squinting smile when you tell him to smile or take his picture. I tried to avoid this by not saying "smile!" but he did it anyway. When I asked him not to smile like that but just to be himself, he gave me the look that throws daggers (which he has picked up from his sister recently- hurray!) and pouted for a while before saying "I want to go now." Did I drive thirty minutes to stay for fifteen? No. So I decided I had an errand to do in the gift shop and then we could go feed the ducks some bread I had frozen and brought along.

At the gift shop the kids thought it was the most fun thing in the world to play with this huge box of colored rocks. I mean, any other day I have no objection to the joys of colored rocks. But for once I had an agenda. For once we were actually trying to stay on task because we had the appointment for pictures coming up. So we headed out to the bridge where the ducks and koi fish hang out, which is unfortunately at the very far side of the garden. We passed the playground on the way and they wanted to play there. We talked (again) about how we didn't have time because we were going to need to eat lunch at Chick-fil-A, a treat in and of itself, before getting our pictures made. They wanted to know if they could have a cookie at the mall. I mean, it was as if the whole morning they were saying, "Ummmm, this is alright, but what else ya got?"

By the time we got to the photographers', I was beyond frustrated and worn out. There had been a fiasco in the bathroom with August and the automated flushers (seriously, take those things out of kids' bathrooms! Out of all bathrooms. It's like we need three weeks of therapy after we use a public restroom!) and Amabel needlessly messing up her hair just before so that when the lady greeted me with "how are you?!" my only response was, "I do not anticipate this going well." And to my utter disbelief it went remarkably well! The pictures turned out great, but somehow the entire picture taking and buying experience took four hours! That was not the children's fault, however.

Anyway, in all of this I sort of realized that the reason my kids don't have a list a mile long at Christmas time is because they're spoiled rotten everyday! Well, they're not rotten most of the time, but they do seem to have things go their way an awful lot. Don't get me wrong, I have wonderful, well behaved, darling children. But it does seem like it takes an awful lot to impress them! So no wonder they don't have their hearts set on this generations' version of the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine (Awwww, the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine is one I had forgotten about too!), they're just not impressed! Oh wait, amend that, I did get a "how come we can't have Crocs?" yesterday while we were wandering through the mall waiting for our proofs to be ready. So that sort of throws off my whole understanding of the situation. Because why do colored rocks and cookies and free balloons (forgot to mention that whole thing), and Crocs impress them, and not Chick-fil-A and exciting outings and (though thank goodness) bright and festive toy advertisements? I feel like I'm playing late night "which of these things is not like the other?" I'll get back to you if I think I have it figured out. Those kids!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

About Today and "Yesterday"

So today is a BIG day! Although we are more than a little miffed that CBS does not recognize this. I am talking, of course, about the Iron Bowl! Auburn University (Waaaaar Eagle! Hey!) vs. University of Alabama (Booooooooo!). The game of the year. The best that college football has to offer. And it's been especially good these past five years as Auburn has won five times in a row! So tonight, at 7pm CST we are looking to make that six years in a row. The game was supposed to be on CBS but at nearly the last minute they decided to run something else. So now it is on ESPN and for those of us with kids but without cable this presents a problem. We have sort of figured it out I think, but it may involve bringing some very sleepy children to church tomorrow. It only happens once a year so I think they will make it.

Besides our big game plans tonight involving fellow Auburn alums, George's brother Rick and sister Katie, his best friend Matt and his wife Ali, we are going to the Great Train Expo today. We should have gone already. Elspeth is taking what is turning out to be an unusually long nap. Anyway, to pass the time the kids have been watching Saturday morning cartoons, something they almost never do because cartoons don't come on until like nine or ten in the morning these days. Isn't that weird? Remember how they would come on at like six when we were kids? And by ten they were all over. Anyway, I have been noticing how the toy companies are laying it on pretty thick during the commercial breaks. Tis the season huh? Anyway, I am so so so so so so so so so glad my kids are not like I was. I have heard nary a declaration of great need or desire for any of the many playthings advertised. And in a two bedroom apartment overflowing with five people, I can tell you that whether they would get the toys or not is not up for discussion! But it is nice to see that they don't especially want them. I remember being love sick over Baby Skates at Amabel's age. I could even still sing the commercial for you if you'd like. I did get my own Strawberry Shortcake roller skates, which I used maybe twice, but I never got the roller skating baby doll, which actually looks strangely like Elspeth! I did get the other doll I was dying to have(whose commercial I could sing for you as well), a doll that was wrapped with a bow tied so tightly that after trying for a minute or two, I shoved it aside unwrapped to open the rest of my gifts. When all was opened, I was rather distressed, heartbroken really, until my mom, who must have noticed the sadness in my face, reminded me of the gift I couldn't get open before. One of my sisters got the scissors for me, we cut the ribbon, and tore off the wrapping paper. And there in my hands was Dream Dancer! She was a Barbie sized doll that had several mix and match ballet outfits (including purple leg warmers and a purple tank top to match, and a classic pink leotard and tutu) and a hole in one of her pointed toe shoes wearing feet that attached to a purple battery powered stage with a peg sticking out of it. You put the hole over the peg, pressed the button, and Dream Dancer danced for you. It was awesome! And I found her on ebay! So do not bid on my doll, for she is my doll, and I will be purchasing her. But here is a link. And in the spirit of old favorites, I did a little shopping around and found some more pictures of other long lost toys. Remember any of these? Strawberry Shortcake's house and bakery and snail with "tea time turtle"?! Dollypops?! The Little People Camper and Circus Train! Good Times! I had all of these (except Baby Skates)! But like I said, I am so glad my kids are not like I was!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hullabaloo I Can Handle

So it's been a great week already, and we haven't even gotten to feast yet! We did have a small Thanksgiving feast at Amabel's school today. It was actually pretty big- turkey, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, various desserts. There was a little program beforehand that the kids did a great job on and then the moms all brought side dishes for the meal afterward. And a local PCA church provided (so much) turkey! This church has been so generous to our school this year. They have provided hot lunches for all of the kids several times already. The school itself is an amazing place. It is a ministry of a very diverse local PCA church and accordingly there is a lot of racial and socioeconomic diversity in the school. It is mostly a mission to the urban poor, immigrants, and refugees. And it is wonderful to see our children growing up knowing all different kinds of people. I definitely grew up in a white, Protestant, upper middle class bubble. I was really naive and ignorant about any other culture because I assumed the whole world was like me- my whole world was. I am so grateful that my children are daily in a place "committed to a racially and culturally diverse educational environment where both Christian and non-Christian young people from a diversity of backgrounds can obtain a quality education together under the grace of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Scriptures." (That perfect little quote is borrowed from the school's website.)

I was so proud too, because (and you will not believe this) we had the second dish on the table and we were in the first row for families because we were like the second or third family to get there! So, by 10:45 this morning, I had a fully dressed family, hot cornbread dressing in a Pyrex portables with a hot pack, three teacher goody bags, a full sippy cup for a baby with a dry diaper, and was on my way to the program (which is only a mile from our house and started at 11am)! I know, it's like I have turned into someone else! And George's mom and sister and brother, the people who (other than my dad) are most annoyed by my consistent tardiness, were all there to congratulate me. Oh, but I got there first!

Rebekah has a picture on her blog, but we made the same little turkey cookies for our teachers. August and I made the dough and put it in the refrigerator a couple of days back. I cut the cookies last night and had the icing ready to go, so all we had to do was assemble everything this morning. August did a great job making turkey tails for me! I also made Martha Stewart's pumpkin swirl brownies for the teachers last night, but I am sort of disappointed in them (leaving a link just in case, but don't say I didn't warn you. And if you do risk it, reduce the amount of cayenne pepper for your own sake!). And I made the cornbread, cut up all my celery and onions, and put a chicken in the crock-pot last night too so that all I had to do was break up the cornbread, add spices and chopped vegetables, and pour the chicken stock from the crock-pot into my dressing, bake it, and go! Can you believe all my planny-ness?! Plus, now I have a fully cooked chicken I can make a pot pie or a casserole with for supper tonight. I'm not so excited about either of those, but they'll work. Anybody have any good ideas for what else to do with cooked chicken that isn't grilled? (Remember, just say no to Campbell's cream of soups.)

I did finally make it to the grocery. I suppose that is obvious or how else would I have made so much food? Even the grocery store was such a delightful experience! I felt like I was in that scene at Zabar's in You've Got Mail- only no annoying people saying "get in another line, lady!" It was packed with shoppers and all the shelves were practically overflowing and people were so amazingly friendly and excited. I let Elspeth and August have some free cookies from the bakery and they both picked double chocolate. So they were quite the spectacles with chocolate all over their faces (Elspeth especially). In every aisle we went down, there was someone else who thought they were the funniest thing they had seen all day. I mean, holidays can be stressful and grocery shopping can be really stressful so I think we provided a little comic relief for everyone. And you know me, my favorite thing is to chat it up with strangers so I was having a ball.

Now all that is left is sweet potato casserole and chocolate chip pecan pie for tomorrow. I would be sad, but I know this is the very beginning of a whole season of this, so I am just getting warmed up! Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Beautiful Day

I did something totally unlike me yesterday. I left dishes in the sink, unfolded laundry on the couch, pulled my dirty hair into a ponytail, and took the kids to the zoo. I needed to go to the grocery store. I needed to work around the house. I needed to bake for Thanksgiving. And I definitely needed to wash my hair! But I went to the zoo with my children. It was so awesome! I needed to exercise so that was a big motivation. The zoo here is in Forest Park which is huge and gorgeous and has all manner of things to do. I have walked there a lot this fall because the weather has made the idea of mall walking shameful. But something about going to walk at 10am (I got a late start because we have had some not so restful nights lately, which is another post) with all the things to do at home seemed like it was totally not worth it. So I had to make it worth it. So I said to myself, "We will park at the fountain and we will walk to the zoo and all around the zoo and walk back to the fountain and it will be joyous for all." And it was. I am still way behind on everything. But it was totally worth it.

I used to be this person, this totally different creature, who would blow off class for something insignificant like another friend having a break in her schedule, or drive to Atlanta or home to Nashville on a whim, or would just buy all my friends presents (oh, well, I still do that- gotta stop doing that, we are so broke!), or any number of strange and irresponsible things. I was carefree. In the truest sense of the word, carefree, free of cares or worries. I mean, I was still very sensitive and dramatic so there were always the wild mood swings and the feeling that my life could surely not get any worse than that I had to find a date for formal. But see, care free. A date to formal is not a care. Why didn't I know that? Anyway, now I'm all "responsible" and a "grown up." I think I have gone overboard though. I think I have lost myself in ironing and three square meals and carpool lines. So what if we have refrigerator free for all for dinner, or we miss a nap here or there? The zoo is too great to miss out on a sunny 65 degree fall day.

We stayed for four hours and saw practically everything there was to see. And I so wish I had a video of the chimpanzees and the little game they were playing, they alone were totally worth it! I am pretty sure August had a blast too, and Elspeth is happy nearly anywhere. She won't remember me holding her up high to see the elephants, chasing after chickens in the goat pen, or getting to pet a big desert tortoise, but I will. And I know I won't remember how I had to iron late one Tuesday night or run to the grocery with all three kids one afternoon. I spend way too much time trying to make my life more organized and fluid, when what I have always loved is spur of the moment, slightly bumpy-lumpy, but exciting days. On the other hand, I do that for the sake of the kids who may not be able to handle too much inconsistency, or so "they" tell me. So who knows? Maybe I am doing the best thing and all of this being a grown up is just dying to self, which is how I've been trying to think of it all this time. But I had a good time being a kid with the kids yesterday, and as far as I can tell, no one is malnourished or in need of psychiatric help because of it!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Stroll Through Abby's Thoughts

I keep working on this really difficult post about the Gospel and adoption into God's family and all these deep ponderings, but it is just whoa. I mean, I can't focus that long and hard to write the post so I am guessing it would be pretty overwhelming to read as well. So this is not that post. I wish I had a nickel for all the posts I write and don't put up. But I am moving away from not posting because I am afraid, so that is good. I am just not posting this one because I can't get it all out. I need to write a book. Ha! Just kidding. But it (the post that is not being posted) would be way too long and there are too many tangents.

It is a good day to write though, one of these overcast cold fall days that make me wish oh wish I had a fireplace. Of course we used to have a fireplace and I hated that house. But this house, er um tiny two bedroom apartment, is nice and cozy and I like it a lot. And I always want to make hot chocolate and curl up with a quilt and look at decorating magazines. And then there is a sound like a record scratching where I realize that there are a lot of calories in cocoa and magazines are $4 a piece. Boo. And it's really only during October, November, and December that this mood strikes me, so it's totally not worth having a bunch of subscriptions all year because who has time to read them. And I think I truly believe that, at least when it comes to the same magazine, there is nothing new under the sun. I quit a lot of old subscriptions because they were so tired. My dad maintains my subscription to Southern Living for me, but I have to say that almost every month I am pretty grumpy about how blah it is. I love the gems I find in there every now and then- a great recipe or decorating idea, a tip on a fun place to visit or eat in a city I will actually probably visit someday, a write up about a particularly interesting plant, or a fun little comment or column about the South. But generally speaking, I have had enough of recipes involving Campbell's cream of gross soups or Velveeta, obvious and overdone decorating ideas like tiling everything from table tops to tea trays to flower pots, or articles about Bed and Breakfasts that cost $300 a night! Well, if I had a stack of magazines, here's what I would have:

Cooks' Illustrated- okay, so we all know I do have a subscription to this one. I love it!
Cottage Living
- actually I just renewed my subscription after a few months of not getting it so I hope to get my first issue soon. It is done by the Southern Living people only it is closer to things I am really interested in. "*Gasp* She's not interested in the South?!" That is another post. But yes, I am still interested in the South. Perhaps just not as exclusively as I used to be, and definitely not every aspect of the South.
Country Living- I quit this subscription because it was just the same thing again and again, but I love to see what they do from October to December, the best part of the year!
Country Home- same deal as Country Living, only I never had a subscription I don't think.
Martha Stewart Living- okay, right around when she went to prison, they went way down hill. I had had a subscription for four or five years, but this sudden decline was ridiculous. They were recycling old photos even so that you had literally seen it all before. I was particularly miffed about the Christmas issue which didn't have a single original idea in it from what I could see. I just picked up this year's Christmas issue at the grocery and have been determined to save it until after Thanksgiving. I am concerned though that it will be a huge disappointment again and I should not let my expectations build up any longer.
Creative Needle- maybe? I enjoy this one when I come across it at Barnes and Noble. Lots of darling sewing ideas for kids' clothes! No way I could keep up with all the projects though.
Australian Smocking and Embroidery- another that there is no way I could stay with. But such pretty ideas!

Anyway, any of you have any additional recommendations? I am not in the market to subscribe, but I do enjoy lingering at Barnes and Noble some nights just sipping on coffee and flipping through all the pretty pictures this time of year. Has anyone looked at Blueprint before? It was on the Martha Stewart website. What's that all about? I haven't seen that one. I know there are other kinds of decorating magazines, but I have found my style in the sort of "country cottage look," which is pretty embarrassing because as a child of the eighties I totally remember the whole goose, faux cross-stitch, little hearts cut out of wood, dried flower wreaths decor that that name connotes! My mom totally had that. Alternatively the sort of stuff I like is called "shabby chic" which is even worse because it is actually a brand name and a term that sort of makes you want to punch the person who throws it around, "Oh, that is so shabby chic!" " I just love to decorate shabby chic!" POW!

And perhaps you all want to punch me now. Because what a boring post! I think I will go look at that Martha Stewart Living now. And what's a few calories on a chilly Sunday afternoon? Here's a compromise: hold the marshmallows. Although, wait a second, I just remembered I have some whipped cream already made in the fridge. Mmmm, whipped cream. Well, maybe I can work in an extra mile tomorrow morning...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Really Ridiculous Post About My Inexplicable Desire for Designer Children's Sleepwear

Thanksgiving is just one week away! And Christmas is in less than six weeks. Kind of a bad time to get back into blogging huh? I have been wondering if just showing everyone all the stops I make on the internet would be an interesting post as it is all I seem to be doing. It wouldn't be though. Well, I'm rushing around town too, but unless you live in St. Louis you would have no idea where I was talking about. Mostly I am just going to, Borders, and Barnes and Noble. Throw in the monogram store, Target, Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table, and a handful of grocery stores, and that's pretty much my life. And still, not an interesting post by any stretch. I'm not a one trick pony, but I only have a very few tricks- books, cooks' stuffs, and monogrammed things. And then there's this one other search that has occupied an absurd amount of my time. It seems only fair that it get its very own post -also probably not a very interesting post idea, but here it goes anyway.

Let me begin by saying that Amabel has only one pair of pajamas that fits her right now and that she has requested that I buy night gowns from now on instead of pajamas. Even so, I have been slightly ashamed of myself for the rather pricey Christmas nightgowns I have been coveting since this summer. I had managed to get them off my mind until I saw the cutest Christmas train pajamas for August that matched them perfectly. The pajamas were at Gymboree, but the stuff they have for girls does not match or coordinate at all. What kind of Christmas cards do these people think we're aiming for?! Some sort of hodgepodge, mismatched kaleidoscope of colors and prints? Well, they clearly don't know who they're dealing with. I am actually a little surprised as it was Gymboree, the store that seems to thrive on the idea that all little girls should have a shirt that matches a jumper that matches some leggings that match a purse that matches a sweater that matches a hair tie that matches some panties that matches some shoes that matches five other outfits just as busy and accessorized as the first and in the exact same color so that only you really know the difference. And yet, they don't have nightgowns that coordinate with pajamas? Strange, don't you think? Anyway, so then the problem was not that I had already found the cutest Christmas nightgowns in the world to match the really cute train pajamas. Because that's not a problem. The adorable Christmas card pictures I could soon be taking of my children dressed in their coordinating sleepwear, also not a problem. The problem was the price tag of just one, not to mention three, pieces of the sought after seasonal sleepwear.

So my search for reasonably priced coordinating Christmas-y sleepwear began. I have now scoured the internet for nightgowns, which let me tell ya are a dying article of clothing, and I have to say the ones I wanted in the first place were really not such a bad price after all. They were actually a pretty good price, considering. Now, I can justify a lot with two daughters as buying for Amabel is usually buying for Elspeth too (only five years early!). The flaw in that thinking (besides the storing things for five years) is that things get worn out so easily once your kids are school aged. Nightgowns don't go to school though, and I found some great ones on Crazy Eight's website.

Do y'all know about Crazy Eight? It is Gymboree's lower end store (like Old Navy is Gap's lower end store and Janie and Jack is Gymboree's higher end store). Anyway, because they're new, they're offering free shipping right now (or they were last week, not sure whether they still are). Anyway, I ordered two gowns and am really pleased with the quality. I am even more pleased with the price as two gowns cost what one costs at Gymboree. But alas, they didn't have very Christmas-y looking ones. I mean, I was just glad to find cute night gowns! They are really hard to find, and nearly impossible to find for less than $30. People think I make Amabel wear dresses and bows, but it is simply not the case, and the nightgown idea is all her.

In the end, as has been the case with 95% of the clothes in my children's closets, it was my mom who said she wanted to get them some Christmas pajamas as she had bought all the other grandkids Christmas pajamas. I told her it had to be night gowns and she is all on board with that. So coming soon to a mailbox near me, two of the cutest Christmas night gowns ever. Coming soon after to a mailbox near you, the annual Edema Christmas card with coordinating Edema sleepwear.

It is silly isn't it? I know, it is. Absolutely. These are the things that make me feel like I have no business being in ministry because I am shallow and greedy. On the other hand, these are the things, strange little things like really wanting matching Christmas clothes while the kids are young and still like to match, that make me me. And I am sure a lot of you have some things that you want to be extra special too, even if the cost is a little on the insensible side. I will make much more of these decisions when it is my money to decide whether or not to be spending, but it is a lot easier to weigh need vs. want when someone else is offering exactly what you want as a gift! I learned a long time ago that when you say no to an offer you don't get a check for what it would've cost, you just don't get anything. So, boutique Christmas sleepwear or nothing? Not such a hard decision after all!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Work In Progress

That's both me and my blog. I debate often about just deleting this whole blog. It is never quite what I want it to be. And I agonize over no comments or even 2 comments. I take so much to heart, and I always assume the worst. "People must think I am such an idiot!" If you have a blog, you know what I mean at least a little bit. But zero comments be damned, I am going to keep blogging. Ha! I have things to say, y'all. And surely you wouldn't come visit if you weren't willing to hear them. Right? Still a little timidity there, but I am determined to bravely continue on my quest for vulnerability, the occasional humorous anecdote, and what I hope will be many more fabulous recipes (I am so sick of everything in my rotation right now!). So c'mon now, who missed me? More to come...

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