Monday, September 27, 2010

Home Work

Yesterday was one of the most spectacular days ever in Dallas.  Probably to be matched only by today.  It was 57 degrees this morning when we woke up.  Fifty-seven!  That's half of what it was a month ago, ya'll.  Imagine.  And the high yesterday was 76.  In Dallas.  In September.  That nearly never happens.

So in honor of the beautiful day, after church we decided we would spend it outside. 

At a picnic, you wonder?  Or a park?  Or on a bike ride?  At a pumpkin patch?  At the State Fair?  

Watching the Cowboys whoop up on Houston?  (I just wanted to see that in writing.  A victory at last).

No, no, people, dream on.  Did you forget?  Or maybe you didn't know this plain and simple truth about me:  I am married to the most do-it-yourselferest (I know, not a word) person you'll ever meet.  Ever. 

We (he) do (does) all our own:  tiling, grouting, painting, landscaping, furniture-refinishing, hardwood-floor-laying, toilet-installing, staining, plumbing, cabinet-installing, ceiling fan hanging, drywalling, you-name-it-my-husband-does-it, anything. 

Get the point?

So the answer is no, we did not, in fact, spend one of the most spectacular days ever in Dallas doing any of those aforementioned fun family things like the park or a picnic, or riding a bike. 

We spent it working in the yard.

Now, I will go ahead and admit that there once was a time in my life where I actually enjoyed yardwork, but that was before:  a)  we had kids;  b)  we had kids;  c)  we had kids;  and d)  I made the most unfortunate discovery that I am highly allergic to poison ivy.  Highly.  Allergic.  In fact, just typing out the word makes me want to go get the calamine.

Because of these four things, when Chris now mentions yardwork, I put my fingers in my ears and say, LALALALALALALA.

Yesterday, however, he asked (accosted) me for help with the yard in the parking lot at church when my hands were full holding:  a baby, a diaper bag, one patent leather Sunday shoe left thirty feet behind us in said parking lot, and of course, a Bible.  So drat, I had no fingers-in-the-ears excuse.  And then I can't really tell him a white lie while I'm holding a Bible, right?  Plus there's the whole issue that we are hosting Caroline's first birthday at the house in two weeks.  As this party happens to be scheduled during the daylight hours, the multitude of "problem areas" of our backyard will not be disguised by a little gift I like to call darkness.

Therefore, I had no choice but to smile, nod, gnash my teeth, and agree to help him in the daggum yard.

My neighbor didn't make it any better by laughing at us as he walked by with his family on their way to the park, hollering out, "You know you can pay people to do that for you, right, Thomases?"  Grrrrrr....

So yes, that's how we spent our absolutely gorgeous day of rest.  Bent over at the waist, pulling weeds, digging flowerbeds, sweeping dust and dirt (dog hair), raking up leaves (dog poo), fixing sprinkler heads (pocked with dog teeth marks), trimming trees, skimming the pool, and throwing away ALL of my good intentions:  sidewalk chalk, bubble stuff, half-chewed dog toys, cracked flower pots, and dead plants. 

But you know what?  All that work means several things.  Number one, my hamstrings and glutes are very sore today which means, hooray, I got an unintended workout.  Number two, we now have a lovely backyard to which we can retreat tonight with a glass of wine and enjoy the cooler evenings.  And most importantly, number three, I got to spend some quality time helping my wonderful do-it-yourselfer husband, solving all the world's problems. 

Which we totally did.

And I am one step closer to being ready for that party.  In the daylight.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Nature vs. Nurture?

This is a question Chris and I have pondered many times since we started the adoption process four years ago.  How much of your child's personality and intelligence is nature, and how much is nurture?  Environment vs. heredity?

Ongoing research will quote you varying percentages, but as usual, I have my own opinion.  Based on an n of 2 (that's a shout out for all you statistic nerds).

I'm saying 10% nature and 90% nurture.

Here are some anectdotal examples from my articulate three-year-old to support this conclusion:

Aria, getting into our car after church on Sunday, shouts, "This car is so hot!  It's freaking me out!"

Aria, trying to get her father's attention at the dinner table last night, "Daddy.  Daddy.  Daddy!  Dadddddyyyy! (Big sigh)  CHRIS!"  That worked.  She got his full attention.

Last week, I told Aria she looked adorable in an outfit she was wearing.  Giving me the Duhh-of-course, look, she responds, "Mommy, I look cute because I am cute!"

And my personal favorite.  This morning, chasing me down (in the bathroom on the potty, no less) to tell me, "Mommy!  Can you do something?  Caroline is being so dramatic!"

You decide.  Where does she get this stuff?  Is this precociousness natural?  Or is it learned?

That's what I thought.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ms. Stewart Just Might Possibly Not Be Ashamed


To use a metaphor a good friend recently told me, these past few days have been so productive, I feel like several pots I had that were boiling over have now been reduced to a low simmer.


-My family has eaten home-cooked meals three nights in a row. 

-My children are bathed and wearing clean, folded clothes. 

-My husband is no longer yelling unmentionables to the computer in his office. 

-My beautiful baby is about to turn one, her party has been planned, and invitations were actually printed and mailed in a timely manner.

-Said baby, following our very first "sick visit" to the pediatrician for refusing to eat, was pronounced perfectly healthy and "distracted" by her newly-learned ability to WALK EVERYWHERE.

-My house, thanks to Soledad, aka my Angel in Pink Sweatpants, is sparkling clean and smells of Pier One's Pumpkin Spice Cake candle (on sale this month!).

-My dining room table looks like this:

-My family room mantle looks like this:

(Don't look too closely or you'll see the pink legos in the fireplace...)

-My front porch looks like this:

You want a closer look, don't you?


This was my first try at something so Martha Stewart-y.   

All in all, it has been a productive catch-up week.  And I give all of the credit to my new indulgence addiction, Double Tall Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbuck's. 

You cannot imagine the tasks one can accomplish with that extra shot of espresso.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vitamin N

So ya'll, I'm straight up TARD.

As in, I actually fell asleep yesterday with two loud children pounding pink legos on my legs chanting a song, in the middle the afternoon lying ON TOP of my pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded. 

Exhausted.  Tired.  TARD.  I think Chris may have even taken a picture to be used for bribery purposes some day.  Or I dreamed it.  Either way.

Last week - the week Charlotte Wiggles Pig the Frog became a permanent member of the family - also happened to be the week of "adjusting" for the extended Thomas family, and I learned the very important lesson that in a given family, everyone grieves about the same thing, but in very different ways.

Even though it wasn't necessarily me that was going through this jumble of strange emotions, I still managed to accumulate a certain amount of angst watching and listening to everyone else stumble through it.  Therefore, when I went back to work on Monday, I was absolutely plum wore out.  I had a busy day and busy night at work, which means job security, yes, but also pure exhaustion.  With no time to recover, I was back to work again Wednesday morning for another busy day and busy night. 

To top it all off, Wendi, my pilates instructor, for whom I possess equal and alternating amounts of reverence, admiration, and hatred, proclaims that sugar is "white poison" and we must stay away from it.  As Wendi is older, wiser, and has an infinitely firmer and more shapely - er, backside - than me, I have this perverse need to please her and do exactly as she says, which now means, no more white poison.

Try explaining that to a three-year-old. 

Uh-huh, I'm a super-pleasant person to be around these days.

And it all seems to hit in the evenings, when I feel like I've been run over by a freight train, my limbs weigh a thousand pounds, and I can barely hold my head up.

Which is why I googled "flu-like symptoms in the evening", and informed Chris that I either have:  a)  leukemia;  b)  hypothyroidism;  c)  tuberculosis;  or d)  all of the above.

And because I'm apparently suffering from this leukemia-tuberculositic-thyroidy-plague, I've been less able to blog as frequently as I would like.

So somehow in my fog last week, I managed to drag myself to the doctor, who did - not kidding - $1800 worth of lab tests for a $20 copay (thank you, United Healthcare), to discover that aside from a mild vitamin-D deficiency, I am a surprisingly healthy person, and am not, apparently, suffering from the plague. 

In all her great doctory wisdom, she told me it's stress, and I need to try and get some sleep.  And take more vitamin D.

Therefore, this weekend, when I've felt sleepy, instead of martyring myself for the sake of that pile of clothes waiting to be folded, I gave myself permission to take two very indulgent long, luxurious naps in the middle of the day while my kids were sleeping.  Or beating me with pink legos.  Same difference. 

Still.  A nap!  Two of them.  Heaven.

In the evenings with the weather now getting cooler, we decided we'd take the girls out to some of the festivals happening in Dallas this weekend.  We went to Addison's Oktoberfest on Friday evening, and Grapevine's Grapefest on Saturday evening.  Both "festibals" as Aria says, taught me this important lesson:  If you ever want to feel skinny and well-dressed with beautiful straight teeth, a handsome husband, and beautiful very well-behaved kids, my friends, all you need to do is attend a weekend festival at night in North Texas. 

Wow, ya'll.  All I can say is the people-watching is out of this world.  I left both places much wearier and dirtier, but with an extremely high self-esteem.  Just sayin.

Time for dinner, a fruit "smoovie" for dessert (see Wendi, I'm trying), then back to bed.  Maybe after my white poison detox is over, I'll have energy for more blogs this week...


Friday, September 17, 2010

Meant To Be

Good luck if you can listen to the words and watch this video without crying!  Especially when you know the passion that Steven Curtis Chapman has for adoption and orphan care.  He and his wife are the parents of three adopted daughters from China, one of whom, Maria, is now an angel.  Their website ShowHope is in my link list to the right. 

Every time I hear this song, I just want to squeeze my sweet Aria a little tighter.

Also, if you are in the Dallas area and have an interest in foster care or adoption, don't miss this on Wednesday:


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Frog Effect

And so it begins...

The "it" being the ultimate super mom test that my mother, Saint Vivi, passed with flying colors.  I like to joke that my brother, now a veternarian with a PhD, came out of the womb, magnifying glass in hand, looking for some creepy-crawly reptiles and insects to inspect.  Growing up, turtles, frogs, and yes, even snakes, peacefully coexisted in our playroom alongside Barbie in her townhouse and the ubiquitous pink corvette.  Saint Vives not only tolerated these turtles, frogs, and snakes, but she even - shiver - assisted and encouraged my brother's love and care of these creatures.  I didn't realize it at the time, but wow, what a motherly concession she made by not dissuading my brother from pursuing his passion, even one that in all likelihood, totally oooged her out.

I've often wondered, if and when I'm in the same position - my child wanting and desiring to cultivate an interest in something that gives me the heebie-jeebies - how will I react?  Will I be the good mother like my own, and keep the frozen white mice in the freezer right next the chicken nuggets and popsicles to satiate the big, black corn snake that so often escapes the bounds of his own aquarium/cage/home?  Or will I instead do my best to divert her curiosity toward varieties less reptilian in nature, such as, say, art?  Or American Girl dolls?  Or Disney princesses? 

Who knows?

Today, however, I had a little foreshadowing of this upcoming dilemma of parenthood.

Which brings me to...

Charlotte Wiggles Pig the Frog.

You may or may not be aware, but Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall in Texas yesterday.  This has caused tornadoes, torrential rains, straight line winds, and extreme flooding.  Now, me?  I don't mind the storms a bit.  In fact, I've always taken a sort of perverse satisfaction in natural disasters, as they seem to create a sort of communal collusion among the citizens of our environs.  Strangers chat with each other in grocery store lines about the crazy weather, the news does a whole bunch of cheesy special interest stories about harrowing pet rescues, and everyone generally seems to be a little more forgiving of small indiscretions like being late to a meeting or missing ballet class because I just didn't feel like getting out in the rain/hurricane/tornado/traffic/weather/flooding, etc.  Plus you can have bad rainy hair, and no one raises an eyebrow.  So I'm all like, Bring it on, Hermine. 

However, one of the slightly lesser-known consequences of hurricanes and floods is something I like to refer to as the Worm Effect.  Ever notice how after a big rain, worm carcasses (carcassae?) are everywhere?  Well, apparently, now with all this flooding, the Worm Effect has translated into the Frog Effect.  Today, I found frogs everywhere - inside, outside, on the car, on my clothes.  I'm beginning to understand how those Egyptians felt during their froggy plague.  Shoulda listened to Yahweh, people, and let His people go.

Needless to say, Aria Grace was T-H-R-I-L-L-E-D by the Frog Effect.  She was squealing, laughing, jumping up and down, chasing after the frogs, doing her best to capture one.

And then - oh joy- she did.

And then - oh more joy - she asked if she could keep him (her/it?).

And then - oh even more joy - because I'm suffering from the guilt that accompanies the distraction when a member of your immediate family passes away and you have a million things to do, so your children end up watching a few too many hours of "Clifford the Big Red Dog", I said yes, she could keep him.

And then - the most joy of all - I had to phone Chris and confess to him that I had violated our No-More-Creatures-in-the-House-That-Poop Treaty.  I tried to rationalize it by telling him that frogs don't poop so it technically doesn't count, but, as he is more intelligent than I sometimes give him credit for, he didn't buy it.

Welcome to the Thomas family, Charlotte Wiggles Pig the Frog.

Now, my oh-so-wise blog friends (and yes, I'm talking to you Vivi and my resident scaly-creature expert, Dr. Mary Lang), I entreat you for some advice.  Even though I have a diminutive amount of childhood experience with amphibians, it happens to be limited by the fact that I paid more attention to souping up Barbie's corvette and less time to learning how to care for a durn frog. 

Aria seems to think we just need to give him/her/it some "Baby Frog Milk" and a chocolate chip cookie, and it'll be fine, but I have a feeling Charlotte Wiggles Pig the Frog may need a slightly more substantial diet.  Wikipedia was extremely helpful:  "Almost all species of frogs are carnivorous as adults, eating invertebrates such as arthropods, annelids and gastropods."

Well, wouldn't you know it?  Just checked my fridge, and we are plum out of annelids and gastropods!  Darn the luck.

As it stands now, he/she/it is currently residing in a plastic container formerly containing Cheerio's, complete with dirt, leaves, grass, water, an acorn, and a snail, a worm, a spider and an ant for company. 

Hmm... after reading that last sentence, I believe I just might qualify for a mother award today after all. 

So, friends, any frog-raising advice?