Antler Up

I can’t believe I missed it. 

The bloggy event of the year.

I’ve been so busy lately, I forgot to enter Taming Insanity’s Antler Up competition.

I’m so bummed about this, for several reasons:

  1. Besides the prestigious glory of being crowned Antler Queen 2011, the winner also was guaranteed a Starbuck’s gift card.  And with how much I’m dragging my feet this morning, the thought of a little extra caffeine sounds pretty good right now.
  2. I’m especially tired this morning, because I was up late last night working on a Typepad blog conversion for a certain-blogger-who-shall-remain-nameless.  And that nameless blogger?  Just so happens to be the guest judge for this competition.  I figured that, by this point, Poppy the nameless blogger is probably so annoyed by all of my moaning and whining about the evils of Typepad, that she’d proclaim me the victor on the spot… just so that I’d be quiet.  Or because she felt sorry for me.  I would have taken the win either way.
  3. I live in the same city as Poppy, so I had also planned on finding out where she lived, dropping by unannounced, and pleading my caffeine-addicted case in person.  But I didn’t get around to doing that, either.
  4. As if all of that wasn’t enough to cinch the prize, I had some pretty good antler fodder as well:

That’s right, people.  A handmade antler crown, made laboriously by my own daughter.  It had the cuteness factor going on, which I think would have held par even with Liz’s butt.

I think it’s safe to say, I had this competition in the bag.

It doesn't get much better than this. You blew it, mom.

Sigh.  I guess there’s always next year, right?

An Oldie but Goodie: The Turkey Said Google, Google!

Thanksgiving is next week.

I know.  I’m in a bit of denial myself.  I can’t believe how fast this holiday season has snuck up on us already. 

I’ll be hosting the festivities at our house this year, which means that over the next week I’ll be busy cleaning, ordering a premade turkey from New Seasons cooking delicious homemade food, and generally making sure the house is picked up enough so that my guests don’t break a leg by tripping over random matchbox cars lying around.  And because I’ll be unusually busy with the domestic chores that I typically neglect, I’m resurrecting an old post about my first experience hosting Thanksgiving.  Enjoy.

***

Everything was all ready.

The tables were set.

The 16 paper handprint turkeys Bobo and I made were cut, glued, and set out as placecards.

The pies were cooling on the rack ordered and picked up from the bakery.

It was my first Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and I was determined that everything would be perfect.  There was just one thing left to do.

The turkey.

I had planned meticulously ahead.  I had researched spice recipes on the internet.  I had called my mother earlier in the week and grilled her about how to cook the perfect turkey.  (What kind of roasting pan should I get?  What are those little tinfoil snakes used for, anyways? How does your gravy turn out so good?  No one can make turkey gravy like my mom.)  I actually remembered to defrost the bird.  I had set the alarm to an ungodly hour so I could pop it in the oven.

I was fully prepared to cook the dickens out of my first turkey.  Or so I thought.

The morning of Thanksgiving the alarm went off at the crack of dawn.  I stumbled downstairs and groggily turned on the oven to preheat.  With one eye open, I lugged the turkey out of the fridge.  But when I took it over to the sink to wash it out, something fell out of the middle of the bird.

When I saw it lying in the sink, I yelped and jumped back a bit.  For the love of God, what WAS that?

And then I knew.  Obviously, someone had left the frank and beans in the middle of my turkey.

A slew of questions raced through my mind:

What kind of sick joke is this, anyway?
Am I being Punk’d?
What exactly am I supposed to do I do with that?
Cook it up?
Throw it away?
Use it as a garnish?

It was too early still to call my mom.  And I was more than a little embarrassed to try 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  So I turned to my old standby.  Google.

In the wee hours of the morning, I sat at the computer, Googling the phrase “turkey penis.”  Not how I envisioned starting my Thanksgiving.

Eventually, Google straightened me out.  And, suffice to say, the meal (and the turkey) turned out just fine.  But I learned a few things that Thanksgiving day.

I learned that there are some phrases you should never, ever type into Google.  Oh MY.

I learned that you can cheat and use the pre-cut, frozen mashed potatoes.  And, if you add enough butter and cream, no one will know the difference.  As long as you carefully dispose of the packaging.

I learned that my mom really does make the best turkey gravy I’ve ever tasted.

I learned that being able to have four generations of family sitting down at my dining room table is something to be thankful for, indeed.

I learned that tryptophan has no effect on children under the age of four.  Especially after three pieces of chocolate pie.

Most importantly, I learned that store-bought turkeys come with the neck and the gizzards inside the bird.  And I learned what a turkey willy does not look like.

Thank you for that, Google.

I hope you all are endowed with a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Happy Un-Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day.  If your Mother’s Day was anything like mine, you might have been lucky enough to have been spoiled.

Perhaps you got a bouquet of flowers from your husband-who-normally-does-not-give-flowers-no-matter-how-much-you-hint-that-chicks-dig-that-stuff.  Maybe someone made you breakfast, and cleaned up the kitchen afterwards.  Or let you take a 3 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon (and, let me tell you, it was heavenly).

Maybe you were showered with handmade cards signed with awkward, undecipherable little signatures.  Or a paper plate flower holder with the word “MOM” scrawled upside-down.   And you might have oohed and aahed like it was the most brilliant piece of artwork ever created.  Because, of course, it was.

Yesterday was pretty much a perfect day.  And I’m so grateful for that.  I’m still basking in the glow of the warmth and love my family showered upon me yesterday.

But, as I sit here reflecting on my Mother’s Day, I realize what today is.

Today is the day after.  Today is Un-Mother’s Day.  And, in reality, Un-Mother’s Day is a day not unlike any of the other 364 days of the year:

A day without the Hallmark sentimentality that surrounds a specific holiday.  There are no flowers, cards, or public acknowledgment of the job that we do.

A day where we roll up our sleeves, delve elbow-deep into poop and other bodily excrements, and get the job done.

A day where we try to be a wife, mother, cook, chauffeur, domestic goddess, and everything else in between.  And we try to do it all well.  With mixed results.

A day where we balance the million things we have on our plates.  Children.  Wifehood.  Finances.  Household items.  Maybe even a career.

A day where we often put other peoples’ wants and needs ahead of our own.

“It’s the job,” we say.  “Isn’t this what we signed up for?”  And we’re happy to do it.  We need to do it, and, most of the time, we want to do it.  Because this is the job.

This is Un-Mother’s Day.

But as I sit here, still reveling in the near-perfection of my own Mother’s Day experience, I can’t help but wonder…

What if we redefined Un-Mother’s Day, even a little?  What if, somehow, the other days of the year were a little more like Mother’s Day?

What if?

What if I accepted more of the offers for help… from my husband, family members and friends?  What about if I asked for help more often?  Would I have less control over how things are done?  Yes.  Would this be a bad thing?  Not necessarily.

What if I realize that I cannot be everything to everyone?  At least, not all of the time.

What if I put aside the minutia of the daily grind, even for just one day?  What would happen if I let the housework slide, the laundry accumulate, and the dishes pile up in the sink?  Would the world end?  Probably not.  Would I focus more on what’s truly important?  Probably so.

What if I spent less time obsessing about the fact that my children are not bathed every day, consume entirely too many processed and sugary foods, and are probably not disciplined as well, or as often, as they should be?  What if I just rejoiced in the fact that they are happy, healthy, and loved?

What if I spent less time worrying, and more time just simply being?

What if I acknowledged that in order to be a better wife, mother and caretaker, I must first be the best person I can be?  That, first and foremost, I need to be personally and professionally satisfied, and that everything after that will fall into place?

What if I took more time to be selfish?  If I took a little bit of time each day, or as often as I could, to do something purely for myself?  Without worry.  Or a sense of obligation.  Or guilt.

What if I had the same outlook about motherhood the other 364 days of the year, as I do on Mother’s Day?  The days that I feel like I’m failing as a parent are the days when I probably need to hear it from myself the most: I am a good mother.

What if I celebrated Un-Mother’s Day just a little more often?

I wouldn’t need greeting cards or commercialism to celebrate Un-Mother’s Day.  Just hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s.”   You know, the good stuff.

And, occasionally, flowers.  Because chicks really do dig that stuff.

Happy Un-Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there.  Do something nice for yourself today.  You deserve it.

What Sasquatch and my kids have in common.

Today, in the midst of the Easter baskets, the sugar highs, and the chaos of egg hunts, I came to a realization.

Gone are the days when I was able to get pictures like this:

Those sweet, posed photos where my kids would allow me to put bunny ears on them and snooze quietly while I snapped countless shots?  They are a thing of the past.

I realized today that trying to get them to wear the bunny ears… much less pose for a photo… much less take a picture that is in focus, is…

…next…

…to…

…impossible.

After seeing how awful all of my pictures turned out today, I’m pretty much convinced that Sasquatch and my kids both move at the same speed.  Lightning fast.  Which is probably why no one is ever able to get a decent photo of either of them.

Other ways I noticed Easter had evolved from years past?

The Easter bunny had to get more creative with where the Easter baskets were hidden:

Judging from the massive pile of dirty clothes on top of the washing machine, he probably figured that the washing machine was used so rarely, the kids might not think to look in there.  Sneaky little bunny.

But one thing that hasn’t changed over the years?  The Easter bunny hasn’t lost his sick sense of humor.

The kids didn’t seem to mind, though.  They snatched that little brown egg up lightning quick.  And gobbled up the contents before we could blink an eye.

At least I think it was one of the kids.  Or it might have been Sasquatch.

Ringing in the new year

A few short years ago, ringing in the new year would have been a big deal for us.

But not this year.  Or, frankly, any year since the kids were born.

We’d plan weeks ahead for a date night out.

As usual, New Year’s Eve kind of snuck up on me this year.  It didn’t even occur to me to try to find a babysitter until it was too late.

In the past, we’d have gotten gussied up in preparation for what was to come.

I didn’t have time to shower yesterday.  And by dinner time, I wore the same jeans and macaroni-covered sweatshirt I had slipped on when the kids woke us up at the crack of dawn.

We would have made reservations at a romantic restaurant, where we’d sip extra dirty martinis over a dinner that included both appetizers and dessert.

We had pizza delivered to the house. We did shots of apple juice from sippy cups. I had two dates, both of which ended up covered in marinara sauce.  By the time dessert was over, they were both extra dirty, and badly in need of a bath.

After a leisurely meal, we’d scamper off to the neighborhood pub, where we’d play shuffleboard with the bar regulars and drink frothy ales until we were toasty.

We scarfed down mouthfuls of pizza while standing up at the kitchen counter.  “Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakquel” played in the background.  After dinner, we played with playdough, and engaged in a rousing game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

And at midnight, we’d do the countdown to the new year.

At 6:45, we started the countdown to bedtime.

And at the end of the night, I’d always get a passionate kiss from my favorite guy.

Bedtime stories and slobbery, goodnight kisses by 7 pm.

We’d stay out until the wee hours of the morning.

Both Jay and I were asleep long before midnight.

The next morning, we’d sleep in until noon.

This morning, the kids woke us up around 7:45.  And we were thrilled that they slept in so late.

And I’d get out of bed, perhaps with a slight hangover.  I’d stumble downstairs for a cup of coffee.

I stumbled downstairs for a cup of coffee.  Really glad that I didn’t have a hangover.

And I’d prepare for a new year.  I knew it would fly by so quickly.

And I thought about what would transpire in the coming year.  A year that would fly by so quickly.

But would, in reality, be just another year.  With the biggest changes entailing having to remember to write a new year on my check.  And at the end of the year, I’d be another year older… but still the same on the outside.

A year that will be more than just another year.  One that will bring new milestones, countless inches grown, and changes that will transform my children into little ones I can’t call “babies” any more.

I think back to the night before.  A carefree New Year’s Eve where all I had to worry about was me.   The night before had been special.

New Year’s Eve was a night much like most of the other nights we have around here.  Nothing particularly special, or out of the ordinary.  A far contrast to the night I would have celebrated just a few short years ago.

But the coming year?  Will likely just be another 365 days.

I don’t know what the coming year will bring.  But that is part of the magic of the new year for me… now that I am a parent.  Who knows what is in store for us in the new year?

I just know it will be more than just another 365 days.

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