Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am putting on my Betty Crocker apron right now.

I was going to be a realy sweet older sister this morning and go help my little brother move out of the dorms for winter break but when I called him this morning he said something like "What need your help? As if."

Ok, he didn't really say that, but he did tell me that I needn't drag my kids over to the college to help him pack up. So now what would have been possibly a busy morning and afternoon has turned into hanging around the house. The kids are down for a nap and I'm thinking...time to make more cookies.

I did make over five dozen sugar cookies with my mother-in-law on Tuesday but we are having a Christmas Party on Saturday and can you ever really have too many cookies and treats? Ok, maybe you can at Flag Day, but not Christmas.

So I'm looking for some great holiday cookie recipes. If you have any ideas or recipes I would love to hear them. I am really hoping the baking will further highten my holiday cheer. Or make me extremely frustrated. That happens sometimes when I try and make new things.

So here's to holiday baking version 2.0

And seriously, I would love your holiday cookie or snack recipes.

I'm Getting To Them, I Promise

So I was in what seemed to be the biggest hurry ever to get our christmas cards here but I appear to be in no hurry whatsoever to send them out, I am going to do them today, I promise.

I can't believe that Christmas is less than a week away, and yet somehow I still don't have that festive feeling. I think we need to watch Christmas Vacation. I'm hoping this weekend's Christmas party will spice up the season, make it feel like a holiday.

Or maybe a few Christmas videos will do it. You think? Let't see.

This is my favorite Christmas song.

poor video, good song

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Because I Can't Find Anacostia on You Tube

If you have access to an online music library you should check out 'ANACOSTIA' by Son Volt. My Rhapsody radio station keeps playing it and I can't get it out of my head and it's a really good song.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I hope you like the Snowman Cardigan and matching socks

I am very funny when it comes to Christmas. First, I like to wrap everything and I appear to be in no hurry, I have been wrapping since mid-November and still have more than half of our gifts left to wrap. Actually, that is what I am supposed to be doing right now but I had this thought and I needed to share.

I think the best gift given is the truly thought out gift. I am in the middle of putting together several thoughtful gifts. Even if they aren't truly appreciated I will know that I put a lot of time and thought into them. I think the worst gift given is a gift card-in a gift bag. Nothing says I thought of you very little and spent very little time on you this holiday season like a gift card in a gift bag, except maybe nothing at all, not even a holiday card (yes, I'm eventually sending out cards).

Now with that being said, I don't expect you all to agree with me. Don't get me wrong I LIKE to receive gift cards, I just don't like to give them, just a personal preference. If you knocked out your whole Christmas list in 5 minutes at Sam's Gift Card Center, good for you, you saved about 143 hours compared to me this holiday season. I on the other hand, am sorry to say this year I had to resort to buying a gift card.

I had these wonderful (or so I thought) Christmas gift ideas for all of our family that live elsewhere and it was not a neon pink shirt with all of their names written on the back in lime green, I promise. I had made a list of everything I was going to get for each family and was feeling pretty good about it. But then my sister-in-law responded to some silly forward I sent her via e-mail in which there were like 50 Christmas questions to answer, one of them being 'what is the worst gift you ever received'. Her answer was something about a not too pretty sweater she once received and that she hates to get DVDs for gifts and that they have a pile of them unopened and unwatched. A DVD was at the center of her families gift. In fact, that part of the gift had already been purchased. But how could I, at this point, finish compiling my gift and send it to her when I knew that she hated the core of it? Well, I just couldn't. I immediately was able to scrape up gifts for her two children (at a much higher cost than my original plan) but I have been unable to come up with ANY ideas for her. I don't know her that well, I've only spoken to her a few dozen times maybe. I am almost afraid to get her something for fear of it being the wrong color, size, shape, or just plain wrong. So after much thought and consideration, yesterday afternoon in a desperate attempt to finally be done shopping, I bought her a gift card.

And I learned a valuable life lesson. Gift cards can often be the result of TOO MUCH thought and consideration. Gift cards can sometimes be the answer for the picky people you WANT to get something for, but really have absolutely no idea what to get.

So I still don't prefer gift cards to give-even if that's what people prefer to receive. And I will NOT be sending the gift card in a gift bag. I'm stubborn like that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

There's Hope For Us Yet...We Could Be Like The Duggars...OK, maybe not

What was once primary infertility has become secondary infertility in our lives as we try and add to our family. I try and soak up every minute I can with Bailey and Cooper and try to accept that we may never have any more children, some people are completely content with two, I tell myself, why can't I be? After almost six years, we did finally have a child, two in fact. I told Ward just last night that we will have more, because we are stubborn and we don't give up easily.

The way I see it, I have another 45 years to keep trying to have another baby. I mean if 70 year old women in India can have babies that has to be promising news for me, right?

In all my research and reading over the past half decade, I have read alot about getting pregnant while you're young, while time is on your side. Being 35 on you due date is considered 'advanced maternal age'. What about 70?

Earlier this week a woman in India gave birth to a daughter, the result of IVF, at the 'advanced maternal age' of 70. Earlier this year a 70 year old woman gave birth to twins, the result of IVF and a year earlier, another woman gave birth to boy/girl twins, also the result of ...IVF, at age 67. Most IVF clinics here in America, they don't even allow women into their programs if they are in their early 40's, but I guess that is mainly if the women want to use their own eggs.

In case you were wondering, there is no way that these women were using their own eggs. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, actually the number of eggs a woman carried peaks in utero and begins to decline almost immediately. By the time a girl reaches puberty more than half the eggs she started with are gone, and around 28 a woman's fertility and chances of becoming pregnant further lessen, even though some women have been able to get pregnant, using their own eggs, at 45, the chances become slimmer and slimmer. But 70, nope, not her eggs.

And in St. Louis, doctors have announced that they successfully transplated a full ovary from one sister to another that resulted in the birth of a baby girl early last month. So if anybody has an ovary they're not going to be using...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Ran Out of Sugar Coating Sunday.

I don't think I will ever watch the Twilight movie. I was not the fan of the book that half of America seemed to be and my sister, who watched it the night it came out, emailed me early the next morning to say that it was the 'best worst movie' she had ever seen. It seemed to have done well, and they will probably make all four books into movies, but I doubt I will venture to the theatre to see them and if we bought them they would probably just end up on a shelf next to 'Sex and the City', so I will probably pass indefinitely.

I aim to gain at least eight pounds this holiday season. I thought I was doing ok until we had our Cookie Exchange party on Sunday and were introduced to eleven new treats, one of which was an Easy Oreo Truffle that I keep sneaking into the fridge to get a sample of, those alone are going to do me for five pounds before the New Year, I almost guarantee it.

I am possibly in the process of destroying my children's high chair pads. They are spot washable only, with the exception of dry cleaning and they had become, in my opinion, beyond disgusting and I am not in the habit of taking anything other than bedding and coats to the dry cleaner. Today, after the kids fed themselves lunch, I decided I couldn't take it any more, I put them in my now perfectly functioning washer and set it to delicate/handwash. After one wash they were still not clean enough for me, so I am currently running them through the washer again. Being proactive however, I have already found economical and washable replacements on amazon, in case I do actually destroy them in the washing process.

My husband and I have made a meal calendar in which we are going to make five days out of the week a theme night. Last night, Mexican. Easy. Everything I love is of that persuasion. Tonight however, is Experimental Tuesday. I spent almost all of the twins morning nap looking for something new and interesting to make, I still, at 2 p.m., have no idea what we are having for dinner tonight.

Monday, December 8, 2008

'Tis the season to by crazy.

You're going to think I'm crazy, but that's ok, I probably am. Ward and I have been sending Christmas cards for nine years now and we had a 'system', a fun system in which we would buy one to two boxes of holiday cards every year and we would sit down and pick cards for each member of our family and all of our friends, making sure that no one in the same family or town would recieve the same card. One night every year we would get out the lists from each card box and get to work, wishing our loved ones a happy holiday from Ward and June. I liked our system, it seemed thoughtful and unique.

But deep inside, I was jealous of all those photo Christmas cards I would receive in the mail every November through December. When I got pregnant and Christmas rolled around I was excited that we would soon have children and could join the ranks of photo christmas card senders. So as the months progressed I built up our phantom photo card in my mind, picturing the most festive, beautiful card imaginable. Ward was on board as much as can be expected and we shopped for everal Saturdays looking for matching colors and outfits, we were beyond dorky and I was loving it. I wanted to take the picture in late November but Bailey mauled her own face and the even had to be postponed. Then we had company, and then, well life just happened. Finally, this past weekend we marked the calendar and added it to a list, ensuring it would get done.

On Saturday morning, after the twins first nap, I shot over 300 photos of my family, being a perfectionist, not one of them made me happy. But I uploaded them to the computer and in some sort of hurry ordered them from Walgreens, one hour. That afternoon I went to pick them up and found that I hated them. My brother, who lives with us when he's not in college, had been cropped almost completely from the photo and it was the glossiest card I had ever seen. I hate glossy photos.

I was so sad. I had done what always happens to me, I had built an event up so high that life could never match my fantasy. I found the pictures so bad that I was in no hurry to send them after hurrying to order them.

I was in a complete funk over it, I have to admit. This morning, after looking at them again I sat down at my computer to rework the cards and found that I had just skimmed over some decent photos. I began working on a new card and became increasingly dissatisfied with the card I had in my possession.

I started to wonder if I could return the old photo cards and order new ones, ones that were more up to my standards. After talking to my sister, husband, and sister-in-law I decided, what the heck, I will try and return them.

Fortunately, they were one of the easiest returns I've ever been involved in (or at least it seemed that way) and instantly my holiday mood was brightened. I have learned a lesson here, that rushing into something can yield terrible results. So I am beginning work on a second card, and maybe it won't be everything from my wildest dreams, but I can't imagine that my second attempt will be so disappointing.


Friday, December 5, 2008


Shortly after Ward and I were married I joined a gym with my sister, Erin. One evening when we were heading to the gym we decided to run into Wal-mart and grab who remembers what. As we were exiting the double doors in ran a small black and white short haired cat. We grabbed him and took him to the car. He was still a kitten but probably six months or older. I called Ward and told him of our find, we had wanted a cat for sometime and had a short affair with another short haired black and white cat before we were married that ended in a couch that smelled bad for years and a slightly used litter box. Instantly, Ward's heart was won and the cat allowed to join our family. The cat we got at Wal-mart was named Sammy. Ward has always had more affection for feline's than myself. In the course of our marriage we have had four cats.

Sam was an indoor cat, a secret from our landlord, and he enjoyed box tops and looking through the blinds. When we bought our first house it was because of him that we went with the faux wood blinds, the plastic ones would not do for him. Being feisty, he did not take well to our move or the fact that the mother-in-laws dog was allowed inside at our new stomping grounds. After a few intentional accidents with the new living room furniture he was uprooted and taken to my mother's house. I felt terrible about the decision almost immediately but it wasn't until my brother told me they were letting him outside that I decided to go and rescue him once again.

In a rescue mission my sister and I went up and got Sam and three kittens, all who were dying from flea infestations and something else we coined 'the sickness'. I took Sam and a new cat, Chester, while my sister took the other three kittens. Sam and Chester did well together and Sam had less outbursts (with the exception of that year we went to Disney and left him at home). When we got Max and then Jake within a year or so later, Sam was not pleased but handled it well enough.

When we had family come and stay with us in late 2004, Sam decided he preferred the outdoors and I didn't argue, I've never been a fan of the litter box cleaning. It was during this time that I realized how much Sam loved little girls, he took to our neighbor's little girl so much that he stayed at their house almost as much as our own. When we moved in 2006 I was pleased to find that a little girl just a little younger lived next door, Sam and Mackenzie were instant friends.

When we moved here Sam never strayed or left us to find our old home. Maybe he loved us, maybe he liked the new neighbors better. He enjoyed the garage and we set up an area for the cats (by this point we had three) on top of the dog crates. Surprisingly, our cats have always gotten along well with the dogs, Max used to carry around one of the cats in his mouth until we put a stop to it because he was rubbing her neck bald.

When Chester disappeared early last year I was sad but knew that Chester had always been a roamer and I figured he had possibly found a home where he liked the people better. Sam and Crookshanks however, remained and stayed close to the house. Every morning they would greet one of us reaching out their necks for a rub.

I thought Sam was happy and that is why it came as a surprise last week when Ward asked me when the last time I had seen Sam. When I thought about it I realized it had been at least two days since I had seen him last. When I mentioned it on Thanksgiving to my neighbor she said that Sam hadn't greeted her and Mackenzie at the bus stop all week. I began to get worried.

About two months ago I accidentally locked Crookshanks in our little car that we never drive and it was just as accidentally that I saw what I thought was movement in the back of the car three days later. The car smelled horrible but the cat was ok. Then a week or so ago my brother found the same cat, Crookshanks, in the storage room in the basement. Luckily, she had only been shut in there hours earlier. But I can't help worrying that someday I am going to open a closet or door and find him, too late. I have looked throughout the house and have found no trace of him.

This afternoon Ward called me and asked if I thought that the Humane Society may have him. I called both the Humane Society and Animal Control and left missing reports. They haven't seen any animals matching Sam's description in our time frame. Is this a good thing or a bad sign?

I can't seem to fight the feeling that Sam isn't just missing. I just don't feel optimistic about seeing him again.

Ouch. That Hurt.

So this morning I was going to log on and post over at thethomastwins in honor of the wee folk turning 11 months old when what to my surprise do I find but this. That's right folks, Ward has left me.

And he didn't even tell me he was going to leave. Just left that blog for me to stumble across next time I went to blog. Keep in mind he did start the blog last night when I had gone to a fantastic!! Tastefully Simple party at a friends, so maybe he was going to tell me and I just found it before he had the chance.

So why do I feel sad? Well, maybe because this whole blog thing was supposed to be a joint endeavor that Ward seemed to have gave up on some time ago, writing less and less. Maybe this blog wasn't all he dreamed it would be, maybe it was the playlist?

So it appears it's just me now folks, I don't even feel like carrying on as June you know, after this split it feels a little pointless.

You want to know the thing that really drives me bonkers, it's really stupid but I am going to divulge anyways, I hate our blog url and have for sometime and now that my husband is no longer a part of my blog I want to change it (actually I've wanted to change it for a long time), gosh I'm sad, huh?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Me, The Oligomaniac

Have I mentioned that I have 27 photo albums and have not yet reached my 27th birthday? Have I mentioned that my memory is sketchy at best and I rely on photos and journals to help me remember the things that have past, however inaccurate of skewed? Have I mentioned that I love the way it looks and feels behind a camera, that the world looks different through a lens, more beautiful, poetic, softer?

Well I do, it is and it does.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Husband, The Hero

In addition to being the most creative spouse in this house, Ward also saved us a bunch of money this evening. Here is the tale:

It feels as though everything is falling apart. His truck has been in the shop 3 times this month, our printer has stopped printing (thus further complicating the Christmas Invitation task) and recently our washer has been testy. It is a Kenmore Elite HE4T with a bad attitude. We've owned it for just over 2.5 years and only recently has it been giving us error messages like F02 and SUD. Being a HE washer I only use HE Tide and never put very much soap in it but still the messages when I finally looked it up on the internet and found that baby socks, pencils or nails could have blocked the drain pipe. I had Ward look into this a week ago because since the babies were born I have lost quite a few of their socks never to be seen again. Well last week he found 13 socks, two baby washclothes and one of my socks in the liner around the wash tub. We were almost thrilled (I had thrown out some of those other socks, and some of them were very cute) and thought the washer was going to be happy with us. Unfortunately, the problem continued. I would just clear the machine when I got the error message and have to rewash entire loads (which was a huge waste of water, electricity and time) and was beginning to wonder if I should call Kenmore when today the washer would NOT rinse a load of clothes. No matter what we did only more and more water filled the tub.

After the kids went to bed I got the trusty shop vac out and sucked the water out and rinsed the clothes in the sink and put them in the dryer for the time being until we could fix the washer. I found a website called FIX YA and found a possible solution to our washers problem, the drain inside the machine, not just the liner, could have blockages.

Ward was able to locate the drain and what did he find?

Four more baby socks, a Color Guard sheet, a pencil in pieces and an assortment of nails and screws. You wouldn't believe how many small things had gotten in their and blocked the drain. We cleaned her up and put her back together and ran the load again, this time our old washer ran like a charm. No problems.

Apparently, my washer doesn't read my blog either, because I did thank her earlier in the week. She must have been feeling over worked and under appreciated. I'm going to have to clean her drains and liners more often (and gosh these HE washers are a lot of work)!


*I was completely aware that these socks had gone missing. My mother-in-law told me that they just go out in the drain and disappear into the septic tank. I was saddened but never thought they would block up the washer because I am dense, just ask Ward. I am going to have to start using those laundry bags I think.

A Regular Charles Dickens

Because my husband, Ward, is the most helpful and creative husband EVER I asked him to help me in coming up with a poem for our Christmas Open House invitation. We're fun like that, we like to have poems accompany our holiday invitations and announcements. Being the sweet writer that he is he came up with this poem in just under five minutes:

Come bask in our Holiday spirit
We’re so merry we can hardly stand it
We’re overflowing with holiday cheer
And we also have wine and beer

We’ve Christmas trees in several rooms
To help fight bah humbug gloom
We hope our home will bring you pleasure
And the flashing lights won’t cause a seizure

We invite you all young and old
to come on over and out of the cold
and have a drink and have a bite
and enjoy a rather un-silent night

Being the appreciative wife that I am, I of course said 'thank you'. However, I think I may go the simpler route on the invitation.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Definition of Busy Used To Be Different

Lately, I feel like I am habitually behind on everything. I seriously don't remember ever being this busy in my entire life. Thing is, once upon a time, I thought I was busy. It was nothing like what I have felt in these past few weeks. And to top it all off, I have been having a rather difficult time getting into the holiday spirit which is in a large part due to how busy and overwhelming this year feels (and the fact that as a result of holiday hussle and bustle several people lost their lives on Friday).

We had a nice enough Thanksgiving holiday. My father and his mother visited for the long weekend. My 90 year old grandmother was having a very difficult time breathing and had forgotten her medicine at home, on top of that my father, her caregiver (if you can call it that) was not very considerate of all. Her hearing, eyesight and mind are almost gone and he treats her like a small child who keeps asking "are we there yet". We all did the best we could and survived the weekend. What a difficult balancing act family can be. On one hand I love my family and get excited when they are coming to visit but sometimes, after they get here, I count the minutes to their departure and then I wind up feeling guilty afterwards.

One of the most endearing things I witnessed this weekend is the flowering friendship between our children and their nephew, the X-man, who is 8 months their senior. On Thanksgiving they were basically playing hide and seek behind furniture at my aunt's house and it reminded me of playing that same game in that very same house with my cousins 20 years ago. It's a trip to live vicariously through one's children. On Friday, the three of them were chasing one another around on the Little Tikes cars at our house and by Saturday Bailey had developed what her father calls a 'cousin crush' on the X-man, for she followed him everywhere at his house. Our children try to walk like him and he gets down and crawls with them.

In case you were wondering, some of us did go shopping on Friday. Actually, some of us skipped Thanksgiving dinner entirely to set up camp outside of Best Buy on Thursday afternoon. Then some of us brought hot cocoa and doughnuts for those crazy enough to stay outside all nate in the late November cold weather for other people's gain. What do I mean other people's gain? These particular people waited outside all night to gain tickets for laptops for other family members. Gosh they're sweet, and I hope some of you liked the cocoa, and thank you. Some of us were waiting outside of Toys 'R Us at 4:15. And some of us, well we slept in with the kids. I will let you all figure out who did what. I know lots of people don't agree with the Black Friday shopping, but I really enjoy the experience. I love having a plan and I love shopping, so it's like Black Friday was invented for me, however, I wasn't the one who camped outside of Best Buy in the cold.

Ward was a tremendous help on Friday afternoon preparing dinner. He peeled vegetables so that I could keep my fingers, he diced, he chopped and fried and washed pot after pot. It was the least stressful of all the dinners thus far, after seven years maybe we are getting a knack for this. Everything was ready at 6 p.m., when our invitations said dinner would begin, our guests however, some of them were not here until after 6:30. My aunts and uncles and even a few cousins (who had never seen the kids) made it by and with over 20 people here it was one of the most uncomfortable dinners we've had. The 'turkey' bread was a hit however and was gone long before I ever thought of taking a picture of it, sorry.

I have some real stories to tell, and how I wanted to get some blogging time in over the weekend, but I will have to wait until tomorrow because I am far too busy to get into them today. But I hope each and every one of you had a happy thanksgiving and are gearing up for the holidays.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Second Customer...well sort of

On Friday a friend of mine and her little girl came over to have some photos taken. As usual, I was extremely nervous and wish I had a ton more confidence, props and backgrounds, maybe in the new year? We had a hard time getting her to smile but we got a good number of shots to work with, I haven't had much time to work on them but she wanted some to take home with her to show family for Thanksgiving so here are a few.

This weekend, Family Christmas Pictures.

Gearing up for...Turkey Day?

Have you noticed recently the new name pegged with the fourth Thursday of November? More and more people are referring to it as 'Turkey Day'. I know it's a harvest celebration in which we focus mainly on food but 'Turkey Day', really? Is it really the only day of the year when the 305 million of us in the United States eat Turkey? People hate when Christmas is shortened to Xmas, well I hate when Thanksgiving is slanged Turkey Day, maybe it's the vegetarian in me.

Despite our reluctance to acknowledge this Thursday as Turkey Day we will be having our annual Black Friday/No Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner with a twist this year. We will be having turkey,

not a real Turkey, but a Turkey nonetheless. Ward is so excited about it, can't you tell?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving we will also be reading this wonderful short story to the children about a group of students who visit Farmer Mack Nuggett and his eight Turkeys who are about to be made into Thanksgiving dinner when the children get a better idea. I don't believe this book is 'leftist crap' or 'anti-farmer' as many amazon reviewers suggested. It is a light, funny, make believe story that is a nice twist on Thanksgiving, especially for vegetarian families like ourselves.

Oh, and let's not forget some of the things I am thankful for today:

1. Sunshine.

2. Naptime.

3. Coffee.

4. My Nikon D80 and all the things I have been able to record with it over the past 8 months.

5. Washing machine and dryer. I can’t say that I love them, but can you imagine life without them?

6. Bubble bath, good books and an hour to myself.

7. My wonderful husband who does everything for me and who turns 34 today.

8. Being able to stay home with our children.

9. That my mom, dad, brother, sister and mother-in-law called me yesterday.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm Thankful. Very, very thankful.

I haven't had a lot of things to post about this week. I have been chasing around two foot tall treasures and busy at nap times with holiday planning with a very busy four day weekend coming up ahead. I have had several ideas but before I have a had a moments chance to post the thought has escaped and I haven't chased them down.

However, this morning we were having a lazy morning with Banana-Pecan waffles and coffee for us and regular waffles and milk for the kids when I thought about the holidays coming up and how much Thanksgiving is just brushed over, at least in my famiy. It just feels like any other day most of the time, like we are just pushing through so that Black Friday and Christmas can be upon us. I want to take back Thanksgiving, give it some meaning.

So for the next few days I am going to focus on all of the things I am thankful for, little or huge, in no particular order, starting with:

  1. Ward, Cooper and Bailey. Thankful seems like such a small word for how lucky I feel to have these people as my focus, my center, my core.
  2. My friends and family. I won't take time to list everyone, you know who you are.
  3. Our roof. And by roof, I mean our shelter, our home. We have a roof over our heads that we often take for granted when we really shouldn't, especially in a year when Americans are losing their homes at all time records. And yet many of those people are still far more fortunate than millions of other people in the world, without a roof or shelter of any kind.
  4. Bread and cherry coke.
  5. That my Father who turns 70 tomorrow is still alive, that his mother, who turned 90 in April is still alive and that my maternal grandmother who is 80 can still keep up with us at Potomac Mills.
  6. That I am finally a mother.
  7. My children's laughs.

Ok, I could go on and on, and I probably will as the week progresses but I have to start thinking about dinner and grocery lists so I should log off. But I encourage all of you to take time this week and reflect on all the things you are grateful for.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

Click here. Then come back.

OK, are you back? Am I the only person that finds a Hollywood's Hottest Toddlers List tacky? Am I the only person who thinks this seems more likely a story in Star or Us Weekly or People but not Forbes?

And Suri? Really? Number 1? Shiloh definitely trumps Suri, right? And where is Violet Affleck?

But seriously, isn't it enough to grow up in thier highly successful parent's shadow and yet in the spotlight all the time. I can't get over how many lists these toddlers appear on. The cutest. The most fashionable. I think it's disgusting, personally.

But doesn't Matilda Ledger look just like Heath Ledger? So sad.

36 and counting, at least some of us are.

Last night we went to Target as we'll probably do at least four times a week until January 1st, when we will ground ourselves from going out shopping. We have decided to make gift baskets for the harder to shop for people on our list so we were strolling through the Christmas isles when I saw a sign that said 36 days until Christmas. At first I thought that seems like a lot of time, and then I thought about all of the things to do between now and then and I just know it will fly by.

It always seems like the really good stuff just flies by, you have to be really focused to catch it. I can't count how many days and hours I have put into an event for the party to last a measly 3 or 4 hours, it hardly seems worth it except that the party is usually so good and the memories so warm that I do it all over again the next time. My point is, that those 36 days are probably going to fly by, especially with Bailey and Cooper around.

This morning I turned on a Christmas Music Radion Station on Rhapsody and have been listening all day as I play with the kids, bake Banana Bread and address Cookie Exchange Invitations. Ward came home at lunch and said, "No, not already." He meant the music, not the holiday. I love music anyways, but Christmas music is just a nice background noise to keep me merry and festive for the next 36 days, poor Ward. I am, of course, working on a Christmas Playlist, so if you have any suggestions, send 'em my way.

I feel silly going on and on about Christmas, but it's already in the air, and it's my favorite time of year. So unfortunately for you, dear readers, I fear it will be a lot about Christmas between now and January, when it will be all about First Birthday Parties. Speaking of parties, this year we actually have a couple of parties we're invited to, I am looking forward to parties at somebody elses house!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Just Saved A Bunch of Money...On My Photo Order

As you can probably tell from reading or viewing my blog, I love pictures. I love to take them, I love to look at them, I love to decorate with them, with the exception of actually being in them, I love pictures.

I also love to give pictures. For Christmas this year I am giving people several photo gifts that I have worked very hard on (taking, sorting, organizing, uploading, you get the picture right? Ha, ha, funny huh?). I had several projects on Snapfish I was working on when I woke up this morning. Calendars, albums, books. When I checked my email this morning I had a Free Shipping all day coupon. I had to rush during nap times to get my books and calendars ready but I made it and I just completed the order. The total was very expensive but I saved $50.44 on shipping!!!

That in and of itself is like an early Christmas Gift to myself. These are gifts I would have been purchasing anyways and I saved that much money. Usually snap fish photos aren't any cheaper than Ritx Pix because of the difference in shipping but I got my photos for 8 cents a piece and didn't even have to leave home.

Ah, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

We were out of town over the weekend shopping at Potomac Mills. It was a wonderful trip but we are all still recovering so that we can be ready for next Friday!

So I wanted to share the wealth, if you have photos or photo gifts to order you can go to Snapfish and use the code SHIPALLFREE until midnight tonight to get free shipping.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Wish You A Merry Christmas, I Know It's Early But Some Of Us Were A Little Late Getting Here To Begin With

I have been known to go a little overboard at Christmas, and I don't just mean in what I consume on my plate but in my planning, spending and decorating, amongst other things.

It's no secret, Christmas is my favorite Holiday and I treat it that way. I love garland, cookies and Christmas Vacation. I have been known to drink cocoa at Christmas, and I hate cocoa. I enjoy, and I mean thoroughly, wrapping presents. I enjoy trimming my steps even though it takes hours. I laugh at my scale while I inhale another Lindt Truffle with a side of Sugar Cookie.

For the past few years Christmas around here has been escalating. The trees got bigger, the presents more numerous, the parties grander and grander. Two years ago my very best blunt friend told me that I was trying to compensate for not having children in our home over the holiday most focused on little ones. I didn't deny it (remember, I skipped straight to anger), in fact I saw it for what it was. The simple truth.

Not only did I not have my own children but all of my nieces and nephews live out of the state. I was filling stockings and making iced sugar cookies for a bunch of people who have been around since before the first Bush's administration. It was sad, but everyone played along quite nicely. I bought Christmas hats for the dogs and made Ward climb up on the roof to display one billion lights like the Grizwalds. I baked Snickerdoodles and watched How The Grinch Stole Chirstmas and Rudolph all by myself.

When my sister got pregnant in 2006 I was so excited that in less than a year I would finally have a neice or nephew to spoil throughout Christmas. On December 26th, 2006 as I ran through Target with my three carts full of 50% off merchandise I bought up everything I thought my nephew would enjoy the following year (Sorry, not kidding, I had my brother and sister each manning a cart and had to have Ward meet me at Target to help me carry my loot home, it's a wonder no one killed me, they all just sighed and shook their heads. In an even sadder footnote, all that merchandise went home and was carried by my entire family, pregnant sister and all into our very empty Nursery.).

When my nephew was born in April 2007 and I got pregnant the same month, I was overjoyed that finally after all these years we would have three children to celebrate the holidays with. I expected, as described in my very first blog post, to give birth early to mid December. What happened instead was house arrest through the week of Christmas and New Year's. I didn't get to have our annual Christmas party or cook or bake (but Ward took up the slack and baked EVERYTHING for Chirstmas Day). I didn't get to go to Christmas Eve dinner at my aunts but stayed on the couch with false contractions and self pity instead. It was sort of a bummer of a Christmas really. I was hoping the babies would be here but knew that the longer they stayed with me, the better. But I still shopped and went over the top, as usual. When I couldn't go anywhere I just shopped on-line.

Every year for the past six I have kept the reciepts of my holiday spending, sort of a form of torture I suppose. I compare them with the previous year's spending. But unfortunately I don't do this until the end of the holiday season. Every year the number grew and grew, when last year the number reached an all time high.

It was all very crazy and stupid, I know that now. I really was compensating for the hole in my holiday. I am so excited about Bailey and Cooper's first holidays I can't even describe it. It's a little sad to me that we've really no money to spend, but at the same time we can shift our focus from 'things' to where it needed to be all along. I know I had and have a wonderful support system and extended family. Their spending the holidays with us was wonderful and I don't want anything about that to change. But the addition of Bailey, Cooper and Xavier to our holidays, well that really is the best present of all. It's amazing how someone's existence, the simple fact of them being around, can mean so much.

So I guess I'm trying to say that there will be no GPS systems this year. That there will be fewer packages to unwrap. That there will be less cocoa around. But what I hope to have found in it's place is what should have been the main focus all along.

I know that this first Christmas is really all about me and Ward and the Grandparents but I can't wait for Reindeer mix spreading in the lawn, and readings of A Christmas Carol, The Gift of The Magi and The Polar Express. I look forward to holiday family portraits and hanging stockings. Letters to Santa and the trips to see him that follow. Cookies and milk left for Santa by the fireplace (and the explanations that follow about our ventless unit). Songs sang by the well lit tree. A new ornament each year. Watching Rudolph, It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. Hiding gifts where we can. School made ornaments proudly displayed at the front of the tree. Children begging us to wake up at 4 a.m. on Dec. 25th. The looks of excitement on their faces as they see the things that Santa has left for them. Baking and icing cookies together. Train rides in the mall. The Nutcrakcer. Christmas Music. Snow on the lawn. Lights in the yard. Candy cane in their hair. I know it won't all be like Norman Rockwell painted it. But then, it doesn't have to be to be absolutely perfect.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This Morning...

I am suffering. No, really I am. I am having an identity crisis. As you can tell from my blog re-design I am trying to overcome the crisis, but I've a feeling I'm not there yet.

Last night I was lying in bed, unable to sleep yet again. I had a post all but written in my mind, but then sleep took me and I awoke hours later without even a clue as to what that post was even about. It was probably the solution to the crisis in which I find myself but I guess we'll never know. But I did know one thing. I am not the cutest blog on the block, so why was I pretending to be? I had to fix the problem, here all around you is the current result.

I am listening to Fleet Foxes, The Raconteurs and The National on shuffle on Rhapsody. I need a little music going on right now. It's like a little added oxygen. What a beautiful tune can do to my mood.

I finally finished that not so interesting novel I was reading, Nefertiti. I hate when reading feels like work. I am now reading The Book Thief, this month's book group selection. The writing is different and I am thoroughly enjoying it thus far.

So the identity crisis. Well, once I figure it out I will try and explain it. I figure if I could explain it I wouldn't be in crisis. I don't even know if it's a crisis, not yet anyways. It's more like identity confusion.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Why I Loves Scarves.

So it's cold here in Virginia now, at least some of the time. With highs of 47 and lows of 27 but an occasional 'hot' and sunny 75 being snuck in there for the pure torture of it. Thing is, I don't mind the cold as much as the heat. Don't get me wrong I would rather not be hot or cold, but just right, like Baby Bear Porridge, but if need be I would take bundling up in the cold over sticky and hot.

We have a lot of holiday functions at our house, from Black Friday Celebratory dinners, to Christmas Mexican Movie Night and Christmas Day Festivities. But in an effort to feed and entertain our guests, we don't turn up the heat.

A few years ago when we were building this house we were still living in our ranch in the city. In an effort to save money I decided I wouldn't turn the heat on at all until I absolutely couldn't bear it any more. About mid-November, after Ward had a run in with my frosty feet, he ordered me to go and turn on the heat, at least to 65. When we moved here we set our heat at a bare minimum to off set the higher electric bill thanks to Southside Electric Co-op. My sister always jokingly tells me that she has to bundle up to come to our house and often leaves her coat on for the duration of her stay at our house during the winter months.

Yesterday, we took some cookies over to our neighbors house and the husband was complaining about how cold their house was at 72, so he raised the heat to 74. I wasn't cold at all, but overly comfortable, I could have taken off a few layers. Then this morning I was on the phone with my sister who said she had her heat at 73 after inching it up from 71 where it was this morning. She then asked me what my thermostat was set at, I checked, 66 both upstairs and downstairs. She laughed at me and said that she would bundle up on Christmas in a big warm sweater.

Maybe it's my cold heart that allows me to be so content with the cold. Maybe I've gotten used to the cold because Ward doesn't like it to be too warm so it's not too harsh a shock to his system when he goes out to work in the cold (which the WIND makes the COLD much worse I assure you, I hate WIND as much as I hate being very hot, I am so hard to please). Maybe it's staying with my grandparents when I was young in their very cold house and hearing my grandfather talk about saving money and not having heat when he was young (after walking home from school ten miles no doubt). But I just don't seem to mind the colder weather. It lets me know that the holidays are approaching. It helps me get good use out of all those bulky sweaters taking up too much room in my closet. And who doesn't love to be bundled up in bed under a cozy winter comforter (yes, we have both Summer and Winter bedding around here).

My only concern is for our children. I don't want them getting frost bite in bed. So I will turn the heat up, a little more, between now and January (when it gets REALLY cold), but their drawers are well stocked with fleece pjs and we may finally get use of the plethora of blankets given to us for the babies at the shower last November.

And there are acorns everywhere. You know what that means right? A terrible winter.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to move to Alaska. Ever. But I don't know if I could handle the desert either.


Friday, November 7, 2008

My Last Resort

Whoever said it was all over when the kids start walking, man I hope they were joking. Our children are standing but not yet walking, at least not without the help of their Walk N Rides. But they are into everything. And when I mean everything I mean everything except their toy box. They are into climbing the stairs, they are into opening cabinets and taking out all of the contents, they are into jumping or lunging out of their cribs, but their toys seem safe and unharmed in the toy box.

I am trying to use my authoritative "No" voice when I catch them in the act, but they just stop, look at one another and head into some other off limits zones in the house. I am trying to be understanding. I let them crawl all over the kitchen table chairs, which I would never let my other friends or family do. I let them smear broccoli all over the place and rarely, if ever complain about cleaning it up, I would never let the other people I love do that without handing them a towel or washcloth. But I am about at my wits end. I haven't been anywhere since the polls on Tuesday, maybe I am just going a little batty. I don't know.

What I do know is that my authoritative voice is not working and the only thing my children appear to be afraid of is our vacuum. Whenever I turn it on (which is after every meal or snack and when I need to do some real vacuuming of rugs and the hardwoord) they crawl as fast as I have ever seen them crawl away from the loud, mobile monster before them, eating those bits of Puffs and Waffle hidden away in thier high chairs that they were saving for later. I am terrible, I'll admit. I think it is hilarious. They don't cry but they crawl like maniacs, sometimes I leave it running for just a second or so longer because it is just so funny to watch.

Today they were getting into the Pyrex ware which is perfectly positioned at their level in the kitchen cabinets and I said "Bailey and Cooper, NO!" Bailey looked at Cooper and gave this 'should we listen to her or not' face. I then said "I'm going to get the vacuum." And they crawled off to play under the high chairs.

Thing is, I was only kidding, but now I'm realizing, maybe I am on to something.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ten Month Photos

Because I had so much fun yesterday and because I totally missed the ball on the nine month photos I decided to take Bailey and Cooper outside for a totally unposed 10 month shoot. One hundred and seventy-five photos later we decided to come in. I don't know if it is because I love taking pictures or because I find my own children irresistable, but I just kept on shooting.

This is Cooper on his knees which I just love, with our cat Sammy who just had to be in our impromptu shoot. Sammy loves people all of all sizes, but especially children.

Coop on those knees of his again, ah I just love it.

This is one of my least favorite from today, but I thought that the effect was cool with all of those bright crisp colors.

Sammy especially loves little girls.

But who can blame him?

Bailey clapping. Have I mentioned that I love Photoshop Lightroom? Thanks, Chris!

Um, Thank You, I Guess

My father just called me.

"I wanted to call and say Congratulations." he said.

Completely cought off guard and wondering if he's seen the pictures on my blog or something I replied, "For what?"

"Well you're the first person I knew to openly support Obama, you must be very happy and excited with his win."

"Yes, I am very happy and excited"

My father is not the Obama fan I am and only joined his camp after Clinton excited the race in June. He is a Democrat through and through though. I on the other hand really tried to educate myself and was won early on by Obama (though for a brief moment I was a Biden supporter and was happy to see him join the ticket in August). But I don't know if congratulations are in order.

Not for me anyways.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When Superman Stops In

A few weeks ago another mother from Playgroup sent me a friend request on Facebook before actually meeting me, when we met she asked if I had taken the photos of Bailey and Cooper on Facebook, she told me she thought they were very good and asked if she could bring her son Spencer over some time to have his photos taken. I was thrilled, secretly I would love to be a photographer but I know that I still need a lot more experience before I can really make that claim. Photography is one of those things that I have loved for as long as I can remember.

So last week she contacted me via Facebook and asked if I would take pictures of her son in his costume for Halloween, we couldn't get together before Halloween so we made plans to meet here today at 11 a.m.

I have been so nervous about this, I can't even begin to explain how nervous I have been, almost to the point of cancelling because I was so afraid that I wouldn't get any good photos for her. Our agreement was that I would take the pictures for free and give her a disk of my completed work in exchange to have permission to use the photos for advertising and promotion. In other words, it was my first job, but I didn't make anything.

All morning I was a wreck, worrying about the shoot and hoping that I wouldn't be a huge disappoint but she was very laid back and it went way better than I expected (I know I'm supposed to be working on my positive attitude but I fear failure). They were here about 45 minutes and I snapped away. My children were napping so I had a chance to work on a few shots right away. So far I have got a few I hope she will like. She likes the black and white stuff I did with the twins photos so I worked a lot with black and white.

I think it went so well because he is such a cute, photogenic kid.

The little boys Dad was away for work on Halloween so his mom wanted to get some shots of him in his costume for him, hopefully she will find one she likes!
In the next few days I would like to get outside and take some pictures of the twins, the fall foliage make for such a wonderful backdrop.

Today, I really am proud to be One.

I watched hours upon hours of television last night. I stayed up until well after midnight and I only forced myself to go to bed because I have a busy day today. But what I witnessed last night was so powerful that my thoughts were not lending me to sleep. I am so proud of my country at this moment. I was so worried that the race would be so much closer, that by today we would still not know the direction we were headed, but at 11:01 when they announced the winner, I was awestruck, complete with tears and goosebumps.

This morning, before I jump into the many things I have to do today I checked a few blogs and Facebook. I wanted to see the reaction of my friends and family to the election. What I saw was mostly what I had expected, the Obama supporters overjoyed and moved, the McCain supporters dissappointed and suggesting voters were 'drunk' when heading to the polls or that we are a 'stupid country' but aside from those negative, expected comments one Facebook users comment really struck me. A friend of mine from Germany commented 'we obviously can'. That she, being not an American, would look at this victory on our soil as "we" is so moving to me. It supports my belief that we are all connected, the entire world, that the world was looking at us, and that we made the right decision. Last night as I saw the footage of the people of Kenya jumping and cheering the same as the people of Chicago, my mind was swarming with the thoughts of the rest of the world and how we are a great nation, and once again I am proud to be part of this wonderful nation.

I know a lot of people are disappointed that their candidate wasn't elected, and I can understand that. But I hope in the days and weeks and months to come that they decide to support their new president so that we can come together and get this country moving in the right direction again. I hope that Obama will be as strong a leader as I think he can be, that he does not disappoint.

I could go on and on, but I really do have tons of things to do today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

WOO-HOO, We Did It!!


We Voted!!

We got up early (OK, not really) and went for a run (yes, really) and went straight to the polling booths where we were voters 137 and 138 in our line, which was one of two. Roughly 300 folks have already voted in our precinct already today at 8 a.m. It it a pretty small precinct or so I thought. The last time we voted we were 67 and 68 and it was 6:45 p.m., that just goes to show that people are really turning out for this one. So get out and go vote no matter who you are voting for, it is your duty. We didn't vote for the same candidate (though we've tried mercilessly to change the other's mind these past few days) but we did vote as a family.



Alright, the polls around here opened up 10 minutes ago, so get you're lazy butts out of bed and go vote.

I hope that every one of you who would read this will vote today, and I hope that you will vote for the Candidate whom you HONESTLY THINK will steer this crazy country in a BETTER direction.

So, lets hear it for democracy people. Get out there and show them what you think. And let's all hope that Americans across the country can be civilized enough to get through this day with out resorting to violence, I know that it is embedded into out DNA, but lets try to rise above today.


Monday, November 3, 2008

I've Been Busy. Really. I promise.

I would love to tell you all that I have been away these past few days coming up with brilliant blogs and eloquently composing them in the late hours of the day and that I have several ready to post. Unfortunately, that would be a lie and I hate to do that to you, so I will tell you the truth. I have been busy and yet also very boring.

Lately, I feel like time is just flying by, I mean it's November already, my children are almost ten months old, how could this year have happened so quickly? Why can't I remember most of the first four months of this year? Will I ever get those memories back or is that some sort of defense mechanism set in place to make sure that we continue to reproduce? Earlier today when I posted that picture of little Coop, from several months ago, I couldn't even remember him looking like that. He transformed so slowly and right before my eyes that I don't even remember it happening.

I can remember that those first few months were hard, and I hardly slept, but I also yearn for those times. That they would have lasted longer, that we could return there again and soon. And yet, at the same time, I try to move to sippy cups, encourage walking and repeat the same word dozens of times just to hear their soft voices mimick me. I feel pulled in these different directions. I told the manager today that if they could all be like Bailey and Cooper I would have 50 more. And in some aspects, I really believe that.

At the same time, however, I feel like we are busy almost nonstop. At least there are times in the day when it's going, going, going, nonstop. It makes finishing a boring book more difficult, (at this time I cannot recommend Nefertiti: Book of the Dead by Nick Drake, maybe, if I ever finish it, I will change my mind and recommend it, but yesterday it put me to sleep in the tub). This morning I was running around trying to pay quarterly taxes, put kids down for a nap, laundry, my "4th" post, putting away Halloween stuff, and getting ready to meet my sister and Grandmother for lunch and I felt like my head was going to implode. It doesn't help that I have pathetic organization skills and I was trying to do all of these things at the same time.

Maybe it's true what I've heard, about this time in your life going by so fast. With the children's first birthday quickly approaching I wonder if all of the years when they are small will pass this quickly. If it will all be a blur. I am thankful for my journals. I start projects all the time, especially ones that are meant to chronicle this time in our lives. I am working on half a dozen Christmas gifts (one of them was actually supposed to be a birthday present for someone who was born in May and never got finished), several scrapbooks, photos in Lightroom, Thanksgiving invitations, and several blog ideas. I am trying to read several books a month and get up the courage or whatever it's going to take to run (yes, I quit after one week in June). I have (mostly) good intentions but my personality is fighting those good intentions and I am not sure who is winning.

As if the real things, the physical day to day things, aren't taking up enough time, I have recently decided to be a more positive, nice person. I had decided after some self-reflection that I am not always at my best and that I tend to focus on people's worse. I wanted to correct this and began right away with the mother in law as my first project. I have been trying VERY HARD, with some success. But then my Dad was in town this weekend and he does some very frustrating things, and I may not have been as nice to him as I could have been, but then he did call Ralph Nader an arrogant SOB in front of the kids.

With all the running around and being so busy I am finding that one of my flaws is just expressing itself more and more; I have been late on several occasions recently and where as I do have two small children, it would be a lie to say it was their doing and since I hate to lie to you I won't. I am late because I think I can do more than I really can in a the time that I have. I want to squeeze in more minutes, any ideas? It all comes back to the poor organizational skills. I will make lists all day and into the night but they never seem to really help me stay on top of things, but boy do I love to sratch things off of them.

In addition to everything else going on I have been fighting the urge to get whiny and depressed. I don't know if it's the election or the climate change but I have been having some ups and downs (mostly downs), which are only made worse by the fact that I don't want to seem down and out in front of the kids. As of this weekend, I am hopeful that things are on the up and up, that good things are coming, that I need to be in higher spirits. I have been hesitant to call it depression, but it is not a comforting feeling. It's the kind that lead to lying in bed for hours watching the time slowly change.

Speaking of time change, those of you who live in a state where you don't recognize daylight savings, be thankful, especially those of you with small children. Daylight saving sucks for children. They don't understand it, they want everything as before, by yesterday's clocks. It isn't the worse thing but it is yet another period of adjustment that we could do without. On the brighter side it is light when Ward goes to work. On the darker side, it is dark by 5:15. I always hated that when I was a kid.

Before I go, I must say something about trick-or-treaters. We put alot of energy into Halloween. We get dressed up, we put out a Graveyard and buy $10 of Dry Ice. Halloween is something we look forward to, that is why we put in all of the effort and buy bags upon bags of candy. This year however I noticed something I really didn't like. RUDENESS. Maybe it's because I have children now, maybe it's because we're in an economic crisis and I could have put the $20 in candy to good use elsewhere, but I couldn't get over the rudeness from the children who came by our house. I had ONE trick-or-treater whom I heard a 'thank you' from. I understand I am a stranger but these kids had no problem taking my candy. But I had a couple of trick-or-treaters who were down right rude, one of them was so nasty exclaiming "Hey, I only got one piece!" that I momentarily thought about asking for the one piece back. Maybe we live in a ruder part of the country, but I was really disappointed in the manners of most of our trick-or-treaters. It's as though many of these kids thought they were entitled to candy. I think it is a bad sign what I saw Friday night, some children are shy and possibly afraid of people dressed as Vampires and Witches, but some children appear to be completely without manners.

OK, I need to get off my soap box and let Nefertiti put me to bed. It takes at least two days to reach normality after the time change.


4th of 4th

I have been tagged by James, with a 4th of 4th photo blog posting. You may not know this about me, but I love to be tagged.

So I was supposed to go into my pictures and open the fourth folder and post the fourth photo. Well, I am using my laptop and I have only been putting photos on here since I got the Nikon D80 in March so here is the fourth of fourth:

We took this picture to email to his aunt so she could make him a cape. He looks so little, gosh they've grown so fast.

So I am supposed to tag three other people so I will make it easy and tag my three followers, Wesley's Mom, Boomer Gran, and Heather.

We have been super duper busy this week and I have a few things I want to post about and as soon as I find some spare time I will get a real post up.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Better than I'd hoped.

Remember when I told you that my brother-in-law had gotten me tickets for Billy Bragg? You don't, that's OK. It was last night, in Charlottesville. When we were trying to get pregnant I spent a lot of time in Charlottesville and I almost went to school there so I know the area a little bit but it was late and dark and I haven't been there in over a year so we had a little trouble finding where we needed to be. We left here around 5 and made the hour and a half long trip in our car, the little Kia Rio, that always seems like Guaranteed Death to me. When I drive it, I feel like I am on the ground. It took me most of the drive just to get used to it. But the gas was cheaper and it hardly smelled at all.

The show was on the Downtown Mall which isn't far from the medical arm of the University so there were a lot of students wandering about. We didn't have much time between arriving and the show beginning so we grabbed a quick slice of pizza at Christine's, which has to be the cheapest meal I have had in a long time. Slice of pizza and 21 oz. fountain soda for $3.50, if the food hadn't been overcooked I may have had another slice.

After dinner we walked down to the Paramount Theatre. The Paramount Theatre is old, built in 1931. It is grand and beautiful with an immense stage at the center. The theatre shut down in 1974 and just stayed empty on the Downtown Mall for decades. In 2002 however, it was bought and renovated and reopened in late 2004 as a place for community acts and entertainers to perform. Occasionally, someone outside of Charlottesville, like Billy Bragg or Amos Lee, perform at the Paramount.

We had assigned seats. In my younger days and louder rock shows, I would have disliked this, I would have wanted to fight through the crowd and get as close to the performer as I could, but now an assigned seat seems like so much less work, I welcomed it. We were given pamphlets and waited for the opening act, The Watson Twins to begin. Someone was singing "Get Behind the Mule" on the P.A., I didn't recognize the artist but I knew it wasn't Tom Waits, I realized I actually like his version better.

At a little before 8, the lights dimmed and every one shuffled in their seats, aware of what was about to start. The Watson Twins, the opening act, were twin sisters with one acoustic guitar, and a keyboardist. The Watson's were beautiful, with beautiful voices, but they were odd and slightly boring in a Norah Jones sort of way. They shared that one guitar. The first sister would play two songs, singing most of the lyrics with just the other sister singing back-up vocals. Then she would hand the guitar over for the other sister to do the same, and the first sister would pick up a shaker or hormonica or tamborine and they went back and forth like this for the entire show. Though the singing was beautiful and the lyrics OK, some of it was odd, like one song that paired an organ with a harmonica in a disharmonious way. Above all else, the act was too perfect, too boring. It made me fidgety, and bored. One sister announced they were going to do a cover, one of the top 100 songs of all time according to the radio, they said. They had decided to cover it for their album, which immediately made me think of the cost of royalties before the song began. The song turned out to be one of my top 10, "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure. Maybe it's because I love this song and know it intimately, maybe it's because I was already restless and bored, wishing I had a pen on me to write down blog ideas, but this was the worst version of this song I have ever heard. It was upsetting to know that this may be some people in the crowd's first experience with this song, and these two girls were doing it no favors.

I hate to be overly critical of artists. Once upon a time we were local artists, we never played such a grandious place as The Paramount Theatre, but I know that it is hard to put yourself out there like that. The fact is, I just didn't care for The Watson Twins, I'm sure other people liked them alot. But the music was nothing new or interesting and their jokes made them look awkward, especially as they stumbled to finish lines for the other one. I wondered about Bailey and Cooper and hoped they would have their own identities, that they wouldn't follow each other around the states to pass one another a guitar just to be together.

After the Watson Twins my sister and I talked about Obama and public service announcements and that we were missing Obama's at 8p.m. for this show. Usually, I would have exited and searched for a restroom but since having children my once miniscule bladder has grown, and what a shame, this place may have had a cleaner restroom than a fancy restaurant.

After a short time, (there wasn't much equipment to change out) the lights dimmed again. This time there was cheering, and Billy Bragg walked out on stage and the crowd yelled before he hit a note. I always love the feeling in a crowd like this, I love the unity of the yelling, that we are all there because we feel the same.

He began strumming his guitar and I could hear the music from "Help Save The Youth of America" forming, I was thrilled, this was one of the songs I really wanted him to play. I was singing along like a fool and tapping my feet. The way I would look with the lights on, a thought I'm glad I don't have to process. He had changed the words to the two decade all song, just barely though, to make it even more relevent for our time. He then went into "Farm Boy" and one of my second favorites, "Shirley". Afterwards he does what I remember most fondly from the first show I saw him at a few years ago, he stated talking politics and the revolution that we need. He joked about Sarah Palin ruining Cracker Barrel for him, that there was just a little too much 'you betcha' in there for himnow. He is English, he drinks tea, Throat Coat, through his shows, and he joked about this. But he got serious, and told the crowd that he may say things that would be offensive to some, 'but don't leave' he told us, 'that will just make for a long string of e-mails between you and I later, which can get quite odd, so stay and talk to me about it after the show'.

He then went on the talk of Nora Guthrie and the lyrics of Woody Guthrie that he and Wilco wrote and recorded new music for the Mermaid Ave. albums (1&2). He told us all about 'Ingrid Bergman' and what that song 'really' meant before he played it. The whole crowd was laughing and I thought it was like seeing three shows for the price of one, musician, activist, comedian. He then played 'Way Over Yonder in the Minor key' followed by a song that Woody Guthrie had written.

He then went back to talking about politics. He talked about how Americans have to vote, that the entire world is paying attention to this election, that they wish that they could vote as well as us, and yet some here on this very soil, will not take the time to vote, to do that one small thing for ourselves and our counrty. He was so moving about the election and the changes that could transpire. He told us that we would have to be strong, he told stories about Tony Blair and how we are bound to be disappointed with either of our candidates because of all they promise, they won't be able to come through and in no way immediately, he told us we would need to support our new president even more so after the election than now. That after Nov. 4th our work would just be starting. He then said 'this next song was written by Laura Nyro in 1968, it's called, well it's what you all have to do next week, it's called 'Save the country" and he started the song and the emotion and the idea were so strong and I could feel the music through the floorboard and I thought about our country and how I should have done more these past few months, that I should have spoken up and out more than I have. I was disappointed in myself, but more hopeful than ever in change. And I liked Billy Bragg more than ever.

It was at this point that people from the audience, some of them anyways, were getting huffy, putting on their coats and leaving. This struck me as funny. These people must not be in hard times (if they can shell out $35 for an artist they don't know very well) and regular listeners of NPR, who were no doubt spreading the word of the show and playing "I Have Faith" or "Mister Love and Justice" on the radio, that isn't as political and obvious as some of his other music.

He sang 'Sexuality' and the lyrics "And just because you're gay I won't turn you away, If you stick around I'm sure that we can find some common ground" meant more to me than usual, I was pumped and hopeful even if I knew that when I left the theatre this wouldn't change anything. He talked more about politics, the VP choice, the public service announcement that he had watched in his hotel ("That would never happen where I'm from, weird."), Guantanamo Bay ("It would be a real message to the rest of the world that you are ready for change if in the first 100 days of office your next president releases those people"), and much more. He talked to a young guy in the front row about the clothes he was wearing and the Clash, he told a story about seeing The Clash and thinking that there were other people like him, against bigotry, how that changed him when he was 19 and that everything that he has done since has been the outcome of that change. He performed a song called "Old Clash Fan Fight Song" and the crowd went wild when he sang "George W. Bush will soon be gone".

He performed more favorites of mine, "There is Power in a Union" and "The Milkman of Human Kindness" but he didn't get around to "Lovers Town Revisited" and I fought the urge to call it out. He left the stage at the 'end' of his show but came back immediately for an encore in which he talked about Levi Stubbs and sang "Levi Stubbs Tears" and then he brought the Watson Twins back out for background vocals on a Motownesque song and I couldn't help but think that they were much better that way. He then said it was time for a sing along and I knew what was coming, perhaps before most. He strummed his twangy guitar and "New England" started. The crowd cheered and sang along, this being his biggest hit aside from the Mermaid Ave. projects and he closed with it the last time I saw him (actually he closed with his entire first Ep that time, which included "Lovers Town Revisited"). He doesn't sing the chorus but the crowd does instead, it creates such a charged feeling. The song ended too soon, his earlier songs were so much shorter, and the lights came on. People gathered their belongings and poured out. I wasn't surprised to see so many older people among the crowd, Billy Bragg has been performing and recording since the late 1970's. My Dad played them for us.

It was a wonderful evening. We didn't get home until 12:45 and that was mostly due to the large numbers of deer by the side of the highway and our slower going speed, but the conversation was nice. We talked about the ignorance of some of the people we love, and how we feel one way, instinctively, to do what we feel is right. We wondered if it was the way we were raised (then why all the bigotry recently from our Dad, that we don't remember growing up) or something stronger pulling us in our beliefs. We talked of next week and how my sister had been complacent about voting but after that show she is going to make the effort (YOU) to get out (BETTER) and vot next week (VOTE) because she felt that Billy Bragg (ERIN) was talking to her and I thought that where as music can't change people, maybe at the very least it can push people who need to be pushed. As I had hoped that show was perfect to attend less than a week before Nov. 4th.

And because I need to, for a cleansing, play this.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Getting to know you even better.

I called my grandmother this morning. We used to be really, really close. I would go and see her two or three times a week when we lived in the city and then at least once after we moved to the country and started the farm. OK, we don't have a farm but those of you city folk may think of countries that way. Then I got pregnant and I saw her less and less the bigger and bigger I got. Since the twins were born I may have seen her a dozen times. This makes me very sad.

So I called her this morning to see if she would like to come over tomorrow, I think that would be easier than the alternatives. She was delighted and in a talkative mood. Somehow or another we got on the topic of Campaign T-shirts. See here in Virginia you are not allowed to wear campaign t-shirts to the polls and will be sent away if you do. She said she couldn't wait until the election was over, I told her I concur. I would have left it at that but she went on to say that she is tired of all the negative comments and ads, especially those by "John". She said it like a grandmother, like she knew him personally and was disappointed in him. She told me that she thinks its sad that the campaigns use faults and harsh comments to sway the vote, that instead of focusing on thier own strengths they attack the shortcomings of their opponent.

I asked her is she was going to vote, she said probably not. I asked if she was registered, that I would take her to the polls if she needed me to. She told me that she wasn't registered to vote. That she has never registered, never voted. That made me sad on multiple fronts but one of those was that I should have asked prior to the 6th. It's too late now. She told me that she really disliked Palin, and didn't understand why she was choosen and then she apologized and said "I'm sorry, you're probably voting for McCain." This struck me as funny, that not only does my grandmother have no idea who I am voting for (or I her, I would have always pictured her as a McCain supporter, but I don't know why) but she apologized that she may have offended me. Where are these courtesies in the general election? Nonexistent? She went on to say, "I was always told not to talk politics and religion. No one wants to have conversations about that." This is why she may have thought I was voting for John, I'm not sure. But it's true we have never talked politics or religion, even though we are very close.

She said "May the best man win, who ever that may be" and we moved on to other topics like the state of the economy.

I wish that more conversation involving politics and religion could go that smoothly, that people didn't intrepret my beliefs and opinions to be a challenge to thier own. I wish that people were really as open minded as they claimed. I wish that people really wanted to come together and work on issues as a joint effort. I wish that I could go on and on about the election on my own blog without the fear of hurting someones feelings or turning them off. I wish it was the 7th of November already.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Party Recap

So this weekend we had our first Halloween party since...well, I can't remember so maybe, ever? Ward and I spent most of Friday afternoon and night baking, cutting, shredding, ricing, etc., etc. I baked a Pumpkin Cake and he willingly iced it.

Saturday morning during nap I ran out and got a few last minute things but then I came home, put on my torn fishnets and got a move on all the last minute touches, which it turned out was quite a bit, despite our hours of work Friday. Throwing a party is a lot of work, and for me, a lot of fun.

I made Brain Cookies. They're Emeril's recipe and always a pretty big hit. I enjoy their taste but I also enjoy using the Potato Ricer to make them, ah fun.

We also made Kitty Litter Cake. Um, it looked gross but it also kind of tasted gross. Few adults of children would eat it but I did frighten/entertain/shock one small boy when his Mom was telling him it was Kitty Litter and I ate some 'poop' (Tootsie Rolls).

We also dipped EVERYTHING WE COULD FIND in chocolate; Apples, Strawberries, Marchmarllows, Pretzels, Nilla Wafers, Pinto Beans.
Just kidding about the beans.
The Pretzels and Apples were the biggest hit.
Shortly before everyone got here we decided that we had too much food for the pennisula where we usually put everuthing and we had to put the overflow on the kitchen table. Then we got into our Halloween Costumes. Ward and I were Vampires. There are no pictures of us together.

In that Skull Cookie Jar, Brain Dip, our own special recipe. On the platter to the left...

A Cheese Body!!! Hahahahahah....I know we're terribly goofie not spooky. We put a spreader in his chest.

Finally, guests started arriving. This is Count Ward and Dying Blackbeard.
The earlier part of the evening was mainly focused on our friends with families and their kids. It went better than playgroup does and the kids ranged from 6 months to 10 years. For more photos of this portion of the party you can go here.

But then Freaks started showing up, like this one, and most of the parents left with their children. Thanks Gerald.

But the pirate remained.
And so did Amy Winehouse and her agent.
And these people. Who were?

(OK, James on the left there was Lestat I think)

But Ricky was like Blade meets Angel or Wesley (Angel, reference) or something.Ricky and Lucy were my favorite, by far.

All in all (that's my favorite summary starter/closer), it was a pretty fun evening.

Everybody had a pretty good time, except for maybe Mr. Cheese Body, who was completely gone by the end of the evening. They went for his limbs first.

Even though it was a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun.