November 2008 Archives

There is much to be thankful for

I'm baking today and Chris is brining the turkey. Liam is obsessed with who killed the turkey.

"Who shot it? Did Grandpa shoot it? Did you shoot it?"

"No, we got it at the store!" Chris said, exasperated.

The boys stood by the sink gagging and laughing at all the turkey innards.

"I'll eat everything but that heart," Ewan said, eyeing the giblet bag.

I have two tables set up in my dining room and the first pie cooling on the counter. Tonight we're going to see our friend's band play their annual night before Thanksgiving show and tomorrow the kids will watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade while I set the tables. It's a far cry from the Thanksgivings we used to have at my grandparents' little house in the Ozarks. All were invited. My grandpa's pet chicken, Dumpling, would run around in the front yard while every mature woman in the family would be packed into the small galley kitchen preparing food. They'd have to holler a prayer twice because there were too many people to hear it good once. TBS would air their "A Christmas Story" marathon which Grandma left on until all the leftovers were distributed or refrigerated and then the menfolk would watch the football game. Afterwards, half of the family would primp to go to the next-town-over's big Turkey Bowl basketball tourney and half would gather in Grandma ad Grandpa's dining room and play dominoes.

I'm sitting at my empty dining room table as the morning light fills the room, looking at how I try to overcompensate with white table linens, linen napkins, and candles just to foster what came naturally to Grandma and Grandpa's Thanksgivings: effortless togetherness.

I think the magic that lives in our youth comes from not knowing how hard the adults worked to create it.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. I'm thankful for my family, faith, and true friends; memories; our health; the work that sustains us financially; the opportunities that come our way; free speech, beef jerky, "Celebrity Rehab," and the vast amounts of patience I require daily.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  
The other day my mother ordered Ewan's tombstone birthday cake from a bakery by her house. He had asked for an owl on top and the words "BE WARE OR BE DEAD" written on it. I told my mother that I didn't want his name on it because that would be just too weird. I was initially upset that I wouldn't be making Ewan's cake because I always make the kids' birthday cakes from scratch so that when they're all grown up, they'll sit in their college dorm rooms, reminiscing just how good they had it back at home and talking about how their mama made their cakes from scratch. And because I can be dramatic, I started to worry about how I'm not making one of their cakes this year and how, years later, after Ewan robs a bank and is taken into custody and gives his first interview on "Dateline NBC," he'll tell Stone Phillips: "You know, it really started on my fourth birthday, when my mom didn't make my cake. She bought it. At a bakery. I'm not even sure if it was made from organic ingredients."

STONE: "So that's when it all started going downhill for you."

EWAN: "Exactly. It was like she stopped caring. I wanted her to be like the mom on all those craft blogs. You know the ones where the moms sew their kids their own art smocks and always make their kids these perfect cakes? She made me an Elmo cake one year and it looked like a giant bloodclot with eyes."

STONE: "Truly frightening."

Which reminds me, when we were at Sam's, the boys went nuts over these gingerbread house-making kits. Although they begged, I could see in the future the hot mess that this innocent-looking gingerbread house kit would most definitely be and I told them "no." Plus I have this thing about food just sitting out all willy-nilly. Grody.

I'm busy working on deadlines, getting my house in order to accommodate 12 people for Thanksgiving, baking, and getting ready to anchor the morning show on Friday. I've strung the first bit garland, actual bits of cedar and pine all wired together and hung in the archway between the dining and living room. I'm sure I'll regret it a week later when all the needles are on the floor.


I'm also struggling with my fourth sinus infection of the season, jeebus, I know, it's so old already. My vocal tonality alternates between that of a 90-year-old chain-smoking Bette Davis and Shaggy from "Scooby Doo." It has provided me with hours of endless fascination. I'm going to record myself a new voicemail greeting in this hot new voice.

(I've received some helpful emails about the Neti Pot but I am terrified of drowning and doubt that I'll ever come around to using it.)

Ewan's birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year and this is also the second year that we're hosting Thanksgiving at our house. When you have a big family, holidays are mostly fun except our family has, since we were kids, believed it can't count as a holiday unless everyone hosts their own individual celebrations in their own homes. Chris and I spent the first six years of married life dragging ourselves and our kids from house to house to house to house to house and driving everywhere on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We weren't ever able to eat a full meal at anyone's house because we had another meal to eat at someone else's house an hour later - and if you got there and didn't eat then DRAMA. Last year I said that it was more about control and less about the holidays and if people wanted to see us on, say Thanksgiving, the first holiday that popped into my head, then they could come to our house.

Because nothing says happy Thanksgiving like "COME EAT AT MY HOUSE OR ELSE." But I seriously didn't see what the big deal was with having all these segregated little holiday get-togethers instead of having everyone under one happy little roof.

So everyone will be here and we'll be giving thanks and celebrating Ewan's birthday. And because I always let the kids decide what kind of cake they want and I try my best to deliver, Ewan requested a tombstone chocolate cake for his birthday. He also said that he wanted a grim reaper party. A tombstone cake with grim reaper favors on Thanksgiving.

"What about a Thomas birthday?" I asked.

"NO," he refused.

"Oooh, Transformers? Optimus Prime?"


"Mommy will give you $5 to have a Transformers birthday."


I hope our guests aren't too unnerved when they see a edible tombstone on the buffet and black napkins and some of Ewan's sickles around the house for decoration. Pilgrims had sickles, right?

(Unrelated: this was one of the best episodes of South Park ever. When they burned down Hot Topic? Hysterical.) 

Homeschoolers! They're just like us!

One afternoon while shopping for a winter coat for Liam at Old Navy, a woman approached the boys and me. Normally, when a stranger approaches you, they say "Oh, your kid(s) are cute," or "You dropped something," or "Where did you get that whatever you got?" or they ask your for directions or time or at the very least, simply say hello.

This woman walked up to me with her nose in the air her eyes squinched, as though she followed our scent.

"Why aren't they in school?" she asked tersely. I steeled myself against what I anticipated would be her criticism and said a little prayer, something along the lines of "OHDEARGODSHUTMY MOUTH, KEEP IT CLOSED DON'T LET ME TALK" because if provoked, I will go all Julia Sugarbaker on someone.

I took a deep breath and asked "Who are you?"

The woman blinked and repeated her question: "WHY aren't they in school?"

"They are homeschooled," I said, overenunciating the last word and speaking loudly as though she were hard of hearing.

The woman rolled her eyes and sighed "Ohhh" before trouncing off.

I had visions of running up behind her and jerking her hair hard enough to cause her head to snap back and her jaws to clap and break her giant horseteeth. Which wouldn't be very nice and possibly illegal but I totally thought it and I'm not sorry. Instead, I turned to the boys and loudly said: "Boys, that woman was rude. When we approach people with a question, what do we say?"

"EXCUSE ME," they replied in unison.

As we made our way to the checkout, Liam raised one eyebrow and gave me a sly grin.

"You're funny, Mom," he said.

So remember that, Joy Behar, the next time you decide to expel a bunch of bigoted nonsense into perfectly good air (around 7:08):

Homeschoolers put their pants on one leg at a time - just like you do, Joy. Except, when our pants are on, we kick your bass in test scores, community service, and manners in general.

This is what homeschooling looks like.  

It got all Reagan from Excorcist last night

I reviewed "Twilight" (I'll plug my ears so you can girl shriek) over at Mamapop. Go forth and read because omg.

When we returned Liam was a fountain of vomit. It was a long evening. Today I'm watching him and feeding him crackers and bread as though he were a pigeon.

I also finished my stepdad's birthday scarf, the gift for the man who hoards the giftcards you get him and and pretends to like that shirt you got him for Christmas three years ago - the one he never wears and is at the bottom of is drawer (so Mom tells you) because he's too afraid to hurt you feelings by taking it back. So, just, gawd, I made it easy on him and knitted it out of a cotton and wool blend so he can wash it because he's ever heard of Woolite. But he can grill a mean porksteak, so hey. Here it is and here's me wearing it because after I finished it I wanted it.

Scarf Scarf

Click to enlarge the photos and for further description.

Our version of a theme park

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Bulk stores fascinate me endlessly. Sundays after church we sometimes stop by Sam's to pick up a few things we need in bulk. I've made this argument before: why buy a box of 24 tampons when you can buy a box with a large enough quantity to outfit a small Midwestern town?

We eat lots of raisins, yogurt, and fruit, and can easily go through a massive batch of it in a week, so we get those things at Sam's. I also love how I have the option of purchasing a faux-fireplace, deer blinds, and economy size bottles of Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Going to Sam's is our version of going to the amusement park. It's free and they give you free food in the form of samples offered by the Sample Ladies scattered all throughout the store.

One afternoon while I was at a baby shower, Chris took the boys to Sam's to get gas and buy toilet paper. They spent the next hour wandering around the store, trying different samples of food, and basically made a lunch out of it. They took video of themselves on Chris's Centro and sent it to me. They do this so often that they are now recognized by the Sample Ladies, as I learned during Sunday's trip.

"Oh, hi, W," Liam said to an elderly woman in an apron and hairnet who was offering samples of some sort of Hot Pocket.

"Hello Liam," she replied. "Care to try?"

"Is it the same thing you had last time?"

"No, that was the pot pie. This is different."

"Oh, okay. Yes please."

Sometimes Sam's even has entertainment, as with the nice older gentleman with a belly laugh who did a quasi-Pirelli and gave a presentation on steel knives next to the spice aisle. Cris and Liam stood identically with their arms crossed and watched with the small crowd.

This past Sunday also marks the first time any of us has ever purchased an item of clothing at the retailer. They always have clothes splayed out on tables in the middle of the warehouse; it reminds me of the bazaars in the Bahamas. Chris, who believes it's fashionable to buck the dictates of fashion, owns only two pairs of jeans (and three pairs of pants total, including his dress slacks). One pair has given out and he needed to replace them. He was drawn by the rainbow of washes and brand names on the table, and spent a good 20 minutes searching for his size.

"You know," he said to me over a pair of faded Calvin Kleins, "I think it's really cool that I can get my jeans where I get my food but at the same time it also freaks me out to buy jeans where I get my food."

"I understand that. It would be hard to be the master of everything."

We paid for our purchases and I again got all flustered because I always feel like I'm being judged when I lay my life-in-products out on the conveyor belt. From this week's haul it looks like all we do is eat yogurt, fruit, menstruate, and like $20 Calvins. The guy behind us had two boxes: one diapers, the other was a knife set from the Pirelli man. Make your own assumptions.

As we loaded up our vehicle with our mass quantities I looked around and saw other families doing the same, loading up purchases fit for a bunker. We drove home feeling very American.

(This isn't a sponsored post, just so you know. I'm emphatically opposed to those. I simply dig the store.)

I've gotten a lot of email about the Motrin situation and the title of my website; we're aware of it, no, it wasn't sanctioned and I'm not affiliated with them, and yes, as someone who wore both of her children, I found it pretty inconsiderate - even more so concerning what they chose to call their campaign.

Three things

While the headlines threaten to drive me to drink, while the children are bored because it's rainy and cold (and I'm still too snotty and cough-y to take them anywhere) I force myself to focus on things that make me happy, like these three:

Hand-me-down chair

This chair sits in the corner of our bedroom, dwarfed by the high ceilings and moulding. It's a hand-me-down (or secondhand, like most of the things in my house, I feel it more prudent, generally and financially, to rescue things from landfills rather than buy new) from Chris's mother, painted cream with a needle-point seat made by an aunt or some aunt's mother-in-law, or someone in the family. It's a runt, all by itself, and it sits in our rather sparse, all-white bedroom, the only room in the house that the boys are not allowed to trash with toys. They don't make furniture like this anymore; people rarely have the time to sit aroud and needle-point seat covers. Things like this remind me that Back Then, people did have the time to make the extra effort, or maybe details like that were just more important all those years ago. There's something about it that I find appealing.  

I am a Warner Brothers character

Sweet jeebus I love this skirt, almost as much as this one. It's vintage, a square-dancing skirt, made by a company called Partner Please which was based in San Francisco. Ewan says I have "nice legs!"

Speaking of which ...
My guys

These guys. Taken during a trip to the circus, the photos from which I'm preparing to upload. They're wearing hair in the likeness of circus' star, Bello. I won't mention the protesters outside, one of which was dressed like a grim reaper with fake animal carcasses hanging off its belt (for the kids, you know. "My grim is better," Ewan had said) because then I'd have to explain how one of them approached us and tried to hand me literature and I politely refused it but they rolled their eyes at me and I shot back that I was saving trees. I abhor the wasting of our precious and finite resources. Crap. Positive! POSITIVE.
Chris's "baby face"

He also does this creepy little boy voice, which I'll spare you. This costume gave me nightmares. Apparently, Chris thinks babies looked tweaked out of their minds.

Now that I have Photoshop back on my computer I'll be uploading a few photos that have been taking up space on my camera's SD card. 

Vision of the future

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I've been on antibiotics three times in seven weeks, twice for strep throat (currently) and once for a throat infection. I would blame my children but I don't have enough energy.

I woke up this morning barely able to make a squeak; I'd lost my voice. I freaked and went to see my doctor, a wonderful ears, nose, and throat man who's been peering down my throat and in my ears since I was 13 years-old. He wears cowboy boots, has a portrait of George W. Bush in his office; hunting licenses are framed and displayed prominently throughout his office and a collection of stuffed game hangs on the walls in the waiting room. He talks so fast I can barely understand him and he's called me "beanpole" since I was a kid. My kids think he's fascinating and I think the feeling is mutual. They always get the spoils of pharmaceutical rep visits; last visit Doc gave them each one of those lighted wands that physicians use to look up a person's nose.

I sat in his office opposite the wall bearing a giant preserved swordfish and waited my turn. The door to the inner sanctum of his office opened and a small, elderly woman wearing what was obviously a wig puttered through the door, assisted by her equally petite husband, who held her purse and beamed at her.

"She's doing so well," the little old man told Doc. He situated her in her seat before disappearing back behind the door to settle their bill. She raised her eyebrows at me in a nonverbal salutation and I smiled back. She was shaking a bit; she rested her elbow on the armrest and her forehead on her fingertips. It was only 10 o'clock and yet she was already exhausted. I could hear her husband and Doc discussing how well she was doing on the other side of the wall. I guessed that they were in their 80s, at least, and marveled at how wonderful it was that they both were in their twilight years together.

After awhile the door opened again and her husband announced: "Ready to go, hon?"

"That's all?" she asked.

"That's it! Let's get home." He offered his arm to her as she rose unsteadily and they shuffled together towards the door. I smiled at them as they left, as he opened the door and held it open for her, all while still holding her purse. He took such care with her and while neither of them could move very fast, he could probably out-shuffle her, yet he matched his pace with hers exactly and flanked her the entire time, hovering, protective.

"I'm so glad we did this," he said, their voices fainter as they made their way into the hall. I thought of all the times I've been sick (I have a weak upper respiratory system) and all the times that Chris picked up the slack unquestioningly; finishing the laundry, loading the dishwasher, placing a glass of water and my by my bed when I've laid in a medicine-induced stupor. I have no doubt that should we, God willing, make it into our latter twilight years, that we'll be shuffling along together, too. 

A new week

Fall sun

I'm alive! Last week was a true test of my organizational skills and sadly, a couple tights suffered, like my laundry. I'm currently wearing a mismatched outfit of gray striped tights, a brown skirt, some red shirt I found stuffed in the back of my closet shelving, polka-dot leg warmers, and a wet, but clean head. Mondays are the days I recoup; the boys, bless their buttons, are in matching track suits a la Ari and Uzi Tenenbaum. Chris cut his way through a large bit of laundry last night and is the only reason I have clean undergarments today. A part of me feels like a total man. I'll be back with regularity after today. Hodge-podge time!

- My laptop died and was mostly restored by Michelle. I still need to reinstall Photoshop but, thanks to my backing everything up regularly, all of my iTunes and other files are safe.
- My N key isn't working properly and I'm so close to throwing a Veruca Salt tantrum over it. Sometimes I have to hit the N key several times. I'm shocked how how many words I use with N in them. Nargals, nepotism, ninnies, ninja! (A couple of weeks ago while on air, I opened a rand new bottle of Sprite and it exploded. The damage was limited to my laptop and Palm Centro.)
- My private, ISP internet account was unable to be saved, thus I've lost all my homeschool, Boy Scout, friends and family's email addresses. I haven't re-established it yet, so no one send anything there. Do I have the suckiest luck or what?
- I've set a loft goal of knitting some things for some people for Christmas because I love to torture myself. It's a better way to relax than drinking, though.
- I'm editing some of the things I'm doing right now to make way for a couple of projects coming down the pike.
- I have ANOTHER cold. So do both boys. We are forever coughing and hacking.
- I'm trying to decide whether or not I'm unhappy with my homeschool publisher's science curriculum.
- I haven't vacuumed my house in a week, there are books all over the place, and the contents of our fridge is starting to look a bit Spartan thus requiring a trip to the market. But! The boys are entertained, the house is warm, and we have a day where we don't have to be anywhere or do anything. Bliss.

Want to go to the circus?

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Giveaway! I have four reserved seat vouchers for the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey's "Bellobration!" Vouchers are good for tomorrow morning's 10:30 a.m. performance and for this Saturday night's 7:30 p.m. performance.

If you'd like to go, drop me a line in the comments; and I will randomly select someone.
*UPDATE: Tickets are gone! I realized that I needed to act pretty quick considering the time of tomorrow's show, so apologies if you're just now reading this. I'm always terrified of hurting someone's feelings with these things. Don't worry, there will be similar giveaways in the future. I wish I could snap my fingers and magically send everyone to the circus! Like how everyone on Oprah gets a car. You go to the circus! And you! You too!

But!! The good news is that I can get you 20% off if you'd still like to go and purchase tickets. The discount code is STL. 

(FYI: joining the circus is my plan B. Seriously. DREAM JOB.)
(Also! You can comment without having an MT account. Just select comment anonymously and fill in your info.)

From today's soundtrack

"Non, je ne regrette rien."

Ah, my head is finally clear enough to speak about yesterday and I've done so over at Blogher. I encourage every keyboard pundit to read it.

The day after today

We didn't put a political yard sign on our property this year mostly because we were afraid that we'd get our asses kicked. No, not mostly, entirely. It's hard to be a tough guy when you have kids that can be affected. Some people get nutty when confronted with the physical embodiment of a differing opinion and I don't want any more hate mail, personal attacks, or people who take their balls and go home.

The more I think about the yard sign issue the more it really angers me that it's even an issue over which to feel bothered. You know? Or maybe you don't.

(I'm currently watching Mike Huckabee debate Bill Mahr on Huck's own, self-titled show. Surreal. Huckabee makes Precious Moments eyes while raking people over the coals. It's like a snake exclaiming to its prey as its being devoured: "You're tasty!" I'm not a Huck type of person, either.)

I will be working all day tomorrow on election coverage for the station. It's going to be a late night.

I hope people realize that when the confetti settles, after the chads from the ballots are in a landfill somewhere, I'm the same person you always knew, we all are.


(Go McCain!)
(If you want political speak, I'm here and here. Please be warned.)

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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"