Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Since Staple-Gunning Porkrinds Was Not an Option

Hello dream come true to build and display a traditional Williamsburg style apple board for my front door.

Never seen such a Christmas decoration?

My entire (Christmas) wedding reception which was held in a antebellum home in SC was the inspiration. Think rooms filled with Della Robbia citrus wreaths, natural swags of greenery everywhere, sterling silver bowls filled with berries and fruit. Think over the top southern-ness on every flat surface imagined.

Think the dinner party scene from Midnight in the Garden where I nearly am giddy at the sight of a beautifully dressed table in this traditional style.

So as you can imagine standing on the front porch of my house this summer I saw my dream decorations.

Overheard during the construction during Thanksgiving weekend.

"did you think through how heavy this was going to be"

"nothing says welcome, than rotting fruit with the potential to fall on the heads of guests entering or exiting"

"I hope you like it, as I stripped the screws getting it up there" What can you put up there for other seasons. It's staying up permanently.

"Nice, from the inside you can tell we forgot to paint the backside and can see raw plywood."

"for building this you have a choice: I get the inflatable of my choice for the front yard, OR you get to finish the leaves.

Going for the leaves. Note I am resisting every urge to move that pineapple an inch to the left and straighten it up. Maybe once I have to start replacing fruit I'll re stake it with another. Total cost for this project is ongoing.

For now I'm in love, love, love that this piece of southern goodness is making my Christmas cards this year. Big thanks to LauraC for family pictures this past weekend and for capturing my Prince of Tides House at it's holiday best.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

With a Full Table and a Full Heart

I never got around to posting a well meaning Thanksgiving post. One of the things I am most thankful is my brother, Brian. I feel like we are a unifed front to what has happened in our family this year, each of moving on in our own ways but still very aware that this holiday season is going to be hard.

The highlight of the holiday weekend was his visit on Friday night until late Saturday afternoon. Brian had offered to work Thanksgiving and luckily was cut from the surgical rotation early on Friday allowing him to drive up a bit earlier.

As of Friday morning, our leisurely planned Saturday lunch had turned into including my paternal aunt/uncle, their son and wife and three sweet little girls for a post Thanksgiving meal since they were traveling through. I pulled out my grandmother's silver, my mom's china, and set my dining room table to welcome them into our home. With 5 kids under five I opted to covering the breakfast table with butcher paper for the kids to color for the proverbial kids table. Good plan to have waited to have recovered the breakfast chairs given there was crayon on the seats and walls.

As much as I wanted Brian to stay on until Sunday, he had a early am Monday shift at the hospital and left Saturday shorty after our extended family. A huge thanks to Bill for taking the boys Saturday morning while we cooked to Brian's ever faithful play-list of music.

When I wrote about my relationship with Brian last winter it was hard to imagine how we would connect with each other after my mom was gone. Three months into the other side, we talk/text more than ever, in part due to ongoing probate of my mom's estate, but also just to check in on each other. Before he left we took a short walk and talked about how much it has hit us in our own ways that starting this holiday season brings with it many emotions. We are John and Wendy Savage made over once again.

In this season of thankfulness and entering into a time to celebrate with family, I'm so very glad that Brian wants to be an active part of the boys lives. He graciously had cleaned out and brought with him the remainder of gifts my mom had put away for the boys. Many will go on to make their way under our tree or be donated. He also had cleaned out my bedroom of anything left of a life long since past. So far I haven't even opened the bags and may just take the to the attic to processed sometime in the future.

When I was at Church yesterday one statement really stuck with me, "a heart filled with gratitude is not a result of your circumstances, but rather a way of approaching life even on the hardest of days."

My hope for my ongoing relationship with Brian to be one of gratitude for what he did for our family during the really tough times. It's also one of hope that our relationship will continue to thrive in new ways as adult siblings.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baskets, Boxes, Brownies and a thought on Thanksgiving

Day before Thanksgiving break and doing everything to minimize what gets brought home over the looong weekend. I made brownies for my students who are participating in a debate. Ask me if this plan is going down in flames. I should have instead planned for them to watch my perennial 1987 favorite "How I Got into College" with Booger from the Revenge of the Nerds movies. That my friends, is education at it's best on the day before a holiday. Go me for being all educational and stuff.

Plans to get our Christmas decorations up, build an apple board to hang over my front door, host my brother who will be driving up on Friday, even paint the secret room created in the dormer for Ben over the break.

I really love Thanksgiving, mainly because the sole focus for my family has always been being together and sharing a meal. None of us have ever been big football or insane black Friday shoppers. The main memory I have of this holiday is just being with family, grandparents, cousins from out of state, and really good food.

I'm farming out most of the meal that my brother Brian and I are planning. Our aunt and uncle from VA are driving through to see their son in Greensboro and are going to stop and have lunch with us. Plans for mashed potatoes, green bean bundles, ham, mac and cheese, Pioneer Women apple pie, chocolate fudge pie, and as of last night the addition of dressing when I realized that I still had 2pans from the last batch my mom made.

I've been thinking a lot about being the first time ever to celebrate without parents, without trips to SC, without there being a hospital involved. Definitely too many thoughts to even begin to post today.

I leave you with:

the 4 Operation Christmas Child Boxes we put together over the weekend. Count on mom to have included underwear and new toothbrushes and Ben to included toys.

I also put together Thank you baskets for Ian's teachers and Ben's. Included were Moravian spice cookies, English Toffee cheese ball mix, loaves of homemade apple bread. I also had Ben include a handwritten card. I am very thankful for both of the boys teachers who spend more time with them awake than I do. They love them, work with them, are helping the be the best 18 month and 5 year old possible.

I really love this holiday, the symbolic meaning of being thankful and happy with what you have now. The adult realization that it is enough and that all you ever wanted is right in front of you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Got Two Matching Windsuits? Sizes 18 month and 5T?

Date: A week ago at Ian's 18 month check up

Time: last appointment of a recent Friday with our pediatrician after a reschedule for me being so late, sitting 45 mins waiting to get worked in only to be told by the practice manager I would just have to come back. Proud mom, you bet.

Overheard during the wait:

"Ian don't take off your diaper. Really? you pooped now, pleeeese don't take that off as I scavenge for wipes and wish for air freshener"

"Ben, when the the doctor comes in you will have to stop rolling around the room on the stool as a crashing car"

"boys, get out from underneath the exam table, repeat x912 times"

"can we please not lay on the floor, hepatitis for Thanksgiving sounds un-fun"

"to myself... why did I stay at school and deal with discipline for someone else's kid making me miss my original appointment and now having to bring both of them to a reschedule"

Once the doctor arrives it takes both of us holding a thrashing Ian down to examine him. Quickest. Exam. Ever. Is is eating, pooping, walking/running normally? Uh.. look at him as he broke free,ran, and hid behind the trashcan.

Words? Yes many more since we were last here. He says Momma, Dadda, Ball, dog, baby, duck, night night, bye bye, hi, uh-o.

Doctor- Good, while he's still a little behind this is a improvement for which I credit being in daycare.

Somewhere during this super quick visit Ben is bouncing off the walls. I look at him and say, "push-ups" He drops to the floor and starts doing the kind where he slaps his shoulders between each set. Then runs through at set of mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and attempts sit-ups.

All this to the hysterical laughing of our doctor who proclaims, "I've lots of parents with bouncing off the walls kids come through this exam room, but never can I remember a parent actually encouraging more activity to distract."

It works beautifully, Ben one step away from a a 1983 Jane Fonda-esque VCR fitness contract allowed us to finish the exam as well as talk over the speech issues.

Stats: 25 lbs (32%), 32 inches (47%), 18 1/2 inches (25%) All healthy and no concerns

As we left she asked what I taught as I still had on my school ID. "freshman and sophomore history".

Doctor who has a dry wit just like her husband who is my OB, "really? Have you considered being heavily medicated to deal with this amount of insanity daily"

Me.. bahahahah... yes, does it show?

Thinking matching red wind suits circa the Royal Tenenbaums would make a killer Christmas gift for the boys.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

So How About a December Repeat

Super awesome call for Monday. I got so much and yet nothing at all done.

On the check list: refilled all my prescription pill counters (really this is an issue as I haven't taken the time to do it and spend precious time in the am in a blurried-eyed state looking for pill bottles). Did the whole rest of the month. Just call me Medicare.

Talked to my brother about him coming for Thanksgiving. Yay. Cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am for him to spend part of the holiday with us. We have some probate stuff to deal with but mainly just hanging out for the weekend and showing him the area for the 1st time. Love me some Brian Hendricks dry wit as well as kick ass cooking.

Did a bunch of errands, phone calls, mail sans kids screaming or being hauled into places.

I bailed on getting the farmers market. Thinking of taking the family out over the weekend and pair it with a trip the State Farmers Market Restraunt. Super yum biscuits, meat and threes, and did I mention the hushpuppies covered in molasses.

I also discovered a part of the Cary Greenway that leads from from our neighborhood to Ben's school. Original plan was to run to the school and walk back with Ben. But given the time, I just ran it alone and then drove over to pick up to avoid 5 pm traffic.

Organized my freezer and made a list of if I have time freezer stuff to make pre surgery.

Worked on our big holiday list and what was priority, not worth the time, and needed ticket purchse now.

I washed the dog, made a vet appointment for my old girl. Major mistake to take her on a 2 mile weekend walk, she's still hobbling around.

Cleaned all the bathrooms as to not have to preface any vistors to never mind the smell of 5 year old boy or lack of toilet paper.

Graded a bag of work while sitting on the porch drinking an insanely big glass of iced tea and loving some 70 degree weather and falling leaves.

As much as I came back to tons o work on Tuesday, it was worth every.single.minute to have day without kids. I honestly cannot recall the last day I had this many hours without them.

I love them dearly, but man was I in heaven. So much so that I'm planning on taking my pre-op appointment day off to voluneer in Ben's class for holiday craft week as well as the day before my surgery to volunteer again, have lunch with Ben and then have booked a massage, facial, and pedicure.

Guilty? Not a bit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Morning and Not the Norm

Hello from my kitchen table where I'm watching leaves fall. Come again Vinson, don't you like have like surgery next month and need to save every single sick day.

yeah..I do but about 7 pm last night I just called it and said I'm staying home and getting some some stuff I want to do today.

I'm already coming off a 3 day weekend since school was closed and I spent all Friday day with the boys as well as a good portion of the weekend. Busy with this church thingy, lots of errands, a playdate, a family meeting, and in general a sense that not a whole lot got accomplished. Maybe it has something to do that Thursday night I fell asleep in Ben's bed as I was reading him a book, the migrated to Bill's office in my attempt to watch a Daily Show backlog with him, then onto the the living room couch as I tried to get caught up Good Wife (yes a backlog, heavens you are too busy) and finally awoke at 3 am still wearing my name badge for school and the tv still on. Tired you think?

So why today?

Saturday I had this crazy epiphany that that whole "how you live your days is how you live your life" mantra I so want to do right by has been falling by the wayside this fall. As much as I'm doing the more sleep thing so much better, I feel perpetually behind in everything. So I'm just taking today to get a punch list of stuff done.

So some randomness for today:

- I'm still in my pajamas drinking coffee after staying up to almost 2 last night. I love me some late night quiet around the house. I'm listening to the recent middle school episode of TAL. Oh my. It's like 1989 around here today and frankly teaching freshmen all day gives you an insane perspective about how high school plays out from the adult perspective and why I seriously cannot watch Glee. Instead I've been making overdue phone calls and catching up on bills, mopping and trying to clean some serious nasty off the wall via Ian. Earlier I worked on our December calendar after Bill and I did the sit down discussion of the level of holiday insanity we want/don't want.

- I might start to grade the two shopping bags of work that have not moved since Thursday night from the back door. Maybe. Likely since I took this day under the pretense of getting caught up I think I'm going to divide and conquer and do a bag today and then break the other into small bits each night this week. At least online work is done. Did I mention that I've already decided not to work next summer and am most likely not in the spring. I think I'm about to be voted off the island if I keep even a single section by my family, a friend who when I mentioned it to her I thought she would smack me. Even my own therapist the last time I didn't cancel on her mentioned it was a bad idea.

-I'm heading out to get some errand run without kids including a trip over to the state farmers market for apples and veggies and new flowers. My beloved giant porch ferns need to go. Goodbye Prince of Tides wanna-be front porch. You're about to see the likes of traditional Williamsburge style that's been a brewin' in head since I first set foot in this house.

Note that giant inflatable Santa in an outhouse as seen this weekend at Lowes will not be purchased. Some random man was just about cracking up at the Christmas decoration showdown going down over rights to the front of the house.

I think the words, "I gave you Halloween for decorations, Santa emerging from an giant outhouse with elf holding his nose, nor giant colored flashing lights that can be orchestrated to music does not jazz with an Apple Board on magnolia leaves or Della Robbia wreaths" may have come out of my mouth. Likely repeatedly as I pried the Santa out of Bill's hands. No crying, no cursing, but I'm standing my ground that I'm at least getting some topiaries at the front door. Bill I think may have told me I'm Fun-Less and this side shy of a Disney villain prototype.

Throw in a much needed workout and some general house pick up and by 4:30 I hope that I made the most of this day.

First up, a shower. Gotta get on that about now before I smell worst than the dog that also really needs a bath.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Food on a Stick was Only the Beginning

Good weekend all around: date night, time with the kids, family walk, church with an ongoing series of messages I'm really connecting with, a friend came and did cooking with Ben as an incentive for behavior, we finally got the Halloween decorations stored, gym workout.

Throw in heading downtown to the annual Jr League Christmas Shopping Spree and I did absolutely nothing for work until late Sunday night. SWEET!

Our weekend paled in comparison to our trip a couple of Sundays ago to the NC State Fair. Can I just say that we spent 7 hours with an 18 month old in tow. Sadly the only picture I have of Ian that he is not moving, he looks like he's being lead to his execution. Take my word that under his tough, 18 month old typically throwing a fit exterior, he had a good time.

Crazy? Yeah I guess, but believe it or not but the kids were well behaved for the bulk of the trip. Our plan was to get to the fair when they opened to hit the kids rides before the crowds. We had prebought tickets, ride coupon books, and tickets to the demolition derby ahead of time.

We ran into our neighbors and did the kids area with them allowing Ben and their 5 year old to ride together. We opted to take Ian and their toddler daughter on several rides, which they loved.

After hot dogs, biscuits, roasted corn, and mini doughnuts we headed over the the arena for the demolition derby. I kid you not, I would pay good money again next year just to people watch before the show.

I give you the trifecta of awesomeness within 10 feet of our seats:

-Man with waist length hair, ZZ top beard, Scooby Doo Shirt, Camo shorts, and a trucker hat covered in mud

-Man with a walker, I HEART Jesus hat, bright safety yellow t shirt with fringed sleeves that was a good 3 sizes too small

-Teen boy sitting next to me with a white 10 gallon hat, shirt unbuttoned to the mid-nipple, and Smoky and the Bandit glasses.

Classy. I tried taking pictures but decided the odds of potential ass-kicking divided by opportunity to preserve via photo was just too high.

I did take the boys over the Dixie Outfitters t-shirt display and seriously thought about buying Ben one of the many inappropriate South will Rise Again shirts for sale. Had I not thought that the proceeds would go to fund Confederate Reenactments I was all in.

The demolition derby was a scream-fest of car crashing good time. Even Ian was clapping and smiling and until Bill took him out when the V8 15 car showdown, he held out and didn't melt down.

Both boys had a great time, loved the rides, animals, food, and yes the Demolition Derby.

Oh NC State Fair, goodness grows in NC. Indeed it does!

Friday, November 4, 2011

There is no crying in parent/teacher conferences

Earlier this week we met with Ben's teacher for a scheduled 1st quarter conference. Bill and I have both had the chance to meet his teacher, volunteer both in the classroom and on a recent field trip. We both really like her classroom methods and feel she's a good fit with Ben's personality. In particular she seems to have a never ending bag of tricks.

In the past weeks a month long streak of overall better behavior was broken by first hitting someone at recess last Friday and then on Tuesday, hitting in PE. Everyday has felt like a return to the daily pick-up walk of shame. Needless to say we have been in lockdown mode for a large part of this week with early bedtime, no Halloween candy, no tv, and several serious meetings. I felt as small as possible watching him sign his name to an incident report.

I'm needing the longest child-free weekend ever about now. Instead I'm going to settle that I'm not traveling to SC this weekend to deal with on going issues with Estate Probate, I'm caught up with all grading, I'm going to the Raleigh Jr. League Christmas Show, and the weather looks great to be outside.

Overall the majority of the conference covered that Ben is testing and working on average. His teacher gave us some ideas on additional things we can work on at home to help with penmanship, reading, and counting. Most of his homework is completed as part of his Friday take home bag and she wants us to add 10-15 mins if possible nightly.

Her take on Ben is that he is very capable, interested in learning, but also very quick to give up when challenged with new situations or ones that he comes bored with easily. Part of me knows that Ben is a typical, very active 5 year old boy with the attention span of a gnat. Bill and I often see the same attitude of giving up when challenged at home. We also are in the middle of whole new level defiance played out in multiple ways.

At this point due to the hitting and Ben's apathetic attitude afterwards we agreed that we needed to try a behavior contract. I am all too familiar with behavior contracts on the high school level. I have spent a large part of this week making those before the report card arrival calls. I also know that when you can create buy-in that you can change the outcome. We are talking over some new strategies at home and a new reward system that will parallel a daily check in with the behavior contract.

My biggest concern is the growing feeling that Ben identifies himself as a bad kid. His first words most days at pick up is if he had or didn't have time out. I try to meet him with a big hug and immediately tell him I'm really happy to see him and that's let talk in the car about all the good and also better choices we could have made. Just hearing how he talks about himself, it's completely in terms of being bad vs good.

I have no real words of wisdom or even that I feel I need to be doing anything differently that we already are. As much as I wish I could write a rosy,
Ben is doing fabulous and one step away from permanent accolades as a start student to be bumperstickered to my car, I'm also going to be totally honest that too many days than not, we are struggling to give it our parenting best and it has to be enough.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween- the wrap up

Only a day late on the Halloween update but alas a new post. Despite the icky weather we had a great holiday weekend. We opted for Bill to only take Ben who joined up with our neighbors and their kids to hit the 20-30 houses within a 5 min walk of our house.

I stayed on the porch, put Ian in his costume (a Monkey, complete with banana in the pocket) and handed out candy. Ian couldn't have been happier stomping on the porch, dumping out the candy bowl, looking confused as I hit the fog machine each time new kids walked up. He got the best of Halloween without having to be out in the rain. Kudos to Bill for volunteering to do all of the trick o treating duty.

By 7:30 Ian was wiped out, was melting down, and the smell of poop forced us inside to get him in the bath and into bed. Ben followed shortly after and after a warm bath and inspection of the candy haul he too was also in bed.

One of the best aspects of the weekend was the block party Sunday night on our street. The kids of our newest neighbors have been planning this for over a month and they delivered a fun party for around 30 surrounding kids complete with planed games, a scavenger hunt, tons of food, music.

I know this is getting old, but I am so very glad that we took the leap of faith to buy this house when we did. We have loved getting to know this neighborhood through daily dog walks, becoming friends with our neighbors in a way we never did in our old neighborhood, and in general be reminded daily how much everything has fallen into place as we have fully moved in.

Bill as expected came home yesterday with bags upon bags of discounted Halloween decorations to be stowed away. Plans are already forming for Christmas decorating and what will be I'm sure another holiday to remember in our dream home.