Saturday, April 28, 2012

Imagination Station Part 3: The Response

Holy social media par-taay! I have to say, this was one exciting experience guest posting at Merelymothers. Here is hoping to some more parenting conundrums so I may throw my hat into the ring of guest posting again.

What I hope came through in the post is not that I am anti-gun--I am afraid of guns and admittedly ill equipped with negotiating how to respond to Miles's burgeoning interest. I want him to be educated about the topic, and I certainly don't want to stifle his age-appropriate imaginative exploration of the world, but it's a tough situation to untangle.

There was a lot of good insight and suggestions--and just my luck--two respondents are experienced early childhood educators who gave me permission to provide their thoughtful responses in the space below. (Yes, the following 2 contributors are part of my family: Mom and Bro. I never claimed to be free of nepotism or bias.)

So, I guess we can say these are 2 guest posts in response to a guest post! (It's like my husband's favorite wonder of the world: a tow truck towing a tow truck.)

The Mother's/Grandmother's Response
As parents we are often confronted with situations for which we are totally unprepared and ill equipped, and if our immediate reactions are less than ideal, we need to forgive ourselves. Hopefully we can reflect afterwards (or solicit more expert advice), and determine to respond more effectively in the future. A good goal is to learn to cultivate measured, thoughtful, and questioning responses to any unexpected situation: stay calm, ask for more information, and think before erupting with emotion (easier said than done, I know).

Young children are trying to figure out the world and their place in it. They are intrigued by things that are forbidden, dangerous, or scary. In fact, they are often drawn to the things (movies, TV, stories, fireworks, etc.) that also scare them most as they are attempting to make sense of things and master their fears. They seem to instinctively know when words or things are verboten and will often try them out to see what kind of response they get from their parents. The challenge for parents is strike a balance between letting children know what is acceptable/unacceptable in their family without making their children feel bad about themselves.

SO. With the gun incident, Miles was undoubtedly trying to figure out the meaning behind the pop gun used in There's a Nightmare in my Closet. We read that passage to him with expression, and it made an impression on him. He learned the power of the weapon that made a scary monster cry. It gave the character power over the monster. SO. Assuming you hadn't had a lot of baggage about guns, you could have asked him where he got the idea for shooting a gun, and hopefully he could have told you. Then you could have had a short, reasonable discussion about toy guns, and you could have expressed your feelings/family rules about guns without making him feel like a "bad boy" for being intrigued by guns. You could have told him firmly but calmly that you don't like having a pretend gun pointed at you, and that most people don't like it either. As you note, he used his fertile imagination to create a gun for himself - Score one for imagination! It could have been a banana, a block, a stick or any long object that boys typically use. At our school we didn't over react when our students began to play guns, but we firmly and calmly told them that we didn't allow guns at school because we want children to feel safe at school.

Cultivating an attitude of questioning is important to gauge children's interest in and understanding of whatever is at issue. You want to be able to take into account their developmental level as well. The famous example is when discussing the issue of "the Birds and the Bees". When children ask where babies come from, parents often launch into a long technical discussion when children just want a simple answer.  By questioning children we can determine exactly what information they want, and give them just that much and no more. Hence, an explanation offered to a 3 or 4 year old will be quite different from an explanation offered to a preteen. Similarly, a discussion about guns would be different for an almost 4 year old than for an older child.

The challenge and joy of parenting is that while we never feel totally competent about our parenting skills, we grow together with our children and learn more and more about parenting as we go along.

The Brother's Response 
As a preschool teacher, this is something I struggle with everyday. In the post-Columbine/9-11 world, this is not a laughing matter, but watching the fascination with guns and weapons develop from the earliest age (usually in boys) it seems like something of an inevitability. Our policy at school is that, “Weapons are not allowed at school.” When asked why (and with preschoolers you are incessantly asked, “why”), my typical response is that weapon play can be scary to some children and school is a safe place. Thankfully at this age, further discussion is not usually necessary.

As a child growing up, I had various forms of toy weapons from Star Wars blasters to G.I. Joe assault rifles. I immersed myself in everything medieval and obsessed over knights doing battle, causing all types of bodily harm. I recognize this same fascination in my young students, and in some ways feel like I am fighting a loosing battle trying to curb their bloodthirsty imaginations. I say, “No weapons at school,” and their guns change dramatically into fire, or lava, or tornadoes. At 4, we’re not equipped to say, “I’m so frustrated with you I need to yell or walk away.” (Maybe even at 34), but the sentiment expressed by saying, “I am going to shoot you!” is the same, coming from a mind that doesn’t understand the true power of firearms or the permanence of death. All that they know is that a gun is a scary, loud thing that is off limits and therefore imparts power and excitement.

I’ll close with a borrowed anecdote. My boss, the director of my school, has two wonderful (now teenaged children). When her son was a student, he was afforded all the benefits of having a mother who is an expert in the field of early childhood education. He was not allowed to watch violent television, or have weapons for toys. Guns were not discussed, over even a part of his understanding at 4 y/o. One day he was particularly upset or frustrated with his mother, my boss, and said, “I am shooting power at you!” With no knowledge of actual projectile weapons, the same desire to exert power through space to harm another person was expressed. It will happen. It is inevitable. Our job as grownups is to frame these experiences, channel these impulses, and guide our children to be peaceable people. 

P.S. In full disclosure, I am the brother of the author, and shot countless pretend guns at her while growing up.

Great experience everyone!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Imagination Station Part 2: Post-Script (or when Eric pokes holes in my story)

For this to make any sense, you must go here for Part 1, then hop over to here for the actual guest post, and then you can come back here.

Wow, I'm bossy, huh?

Post Script:  This is Eric, Ali's less funny, much less talented husband with a mind for toddler investigative reporting.  When not exposing restaurants with below average health scores, I am digging deeper to find the explanation for my nascent gunman's new found obsession with firearms.  This is literally Ali's worst nightmare:  a gun-toting toddler who whines if you move while he is aiming. While wiping away tears... "No!  Move back so I can shoot you!"  The truth is that Miles was never on the grassy knoll and never supported the senile Charlton Heston.  This is actually Mercer Mayer's worst nightmare. Sometime after the alligator was locked in the garage, Mayer's proverbial first-born had to fend off the frightening denizen of everyone's closet.  His room was only equipped with a big wheel, a four-star general's helmet, and an open window, so the pop gun looked pretty appealing when fighting an eight-foot beast of the night.  "POP!"  He felt bad, but not too bad.  Miles is no longer wandering the halls, library, and cafeteria adorned in a semi-automatic rifle-hiding trench coat, but has now morphed into the literal (literary) sheriff of our dreams.  I can now go back to harassing the squirrels.

Synopsis for those who don't think like my husband: Miles got the gun shtick from this book...one on our bookshelf that we read with frequency (d'oh!).


Image courtesy of the Carle Museum


Next? Part 3: the sage responses! Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Imagination Station Part 1: Prologue and Guest Post!

When you have a legitimate Mommy blog like Merelymothers, you are required to adhere to things like "standards" and "word counts;" things that are Greek to me. So when one of my oldest, and dearest friends, Sarahlynne, approached me to guest post on the Merelymothers blog, my first response was all "aitch-ee-double hockey sticks" yeah! And then I panicked because the pressure was on to properly build something of strong foundation on the blog's real estate. Well, and then I had a bout of verbal diarrhea.

The blog is an amazing collection of 3 women's voices (and a guest post here and there), and I needed to do it justice.

I decided to let something naturally materialize as I do with my own blog, which could only mean it would happen on my morning commute right after the Riverside exit. You know, when most of my brilliant posts get created.

I spent that day's lunch break letting my fingers type away at the computer, and I also calculated a rate per follower I would pay Sarahlynne for everyone who unsubscribed from her site after I posted.

I had a thesis sized draft of a recent experience with Miles pretending to shoot me with a bubble wand. Eric's response to my piece was "Wow. That's not your authentic voice." And then he proceeded to poke holes in my story, which will only be revealed in part 2 of this series.

See that? It's another hook! I've trapped you in with a compelling post title, I'm about to give you a prologue that is going to force you to click to another (far more refined) site and read the juicy part...and then encourage you to come back to read part 2 AND part 3. Hey, all this blog hopping is functional fitness! You can add it to your 30 minutes of physical activity quota you should be hitting...I do. Or you can ignore it all like I'm sure many do, and I'll just do this exercise for the 1.5 religious followers of my blog (hi mom!).

So here is the prologue to the whole debacle:

One aspect of toddler-hood that provided me with a healthy respite from those ever increasing “trying” moments when I furiously searched for the receipt from my uterus to see if there was a return policy was the materialization of toddler imagination. One day back in 2009, I stumbled upon my nascent toddler, Miles, jammed into the bottom utensil drawer in the kitchen and thought, “Whoa; did he just make a cell phone call with the melon baller?”

·         Alphabet blocks became runners in a race

·         Patches of the floor morphed into shark infested waters

·         Potty seats were fashioned into astronaut helmets

·         And yes, “Mommy band aids” (ahem) became drumsticks.

(I have video documentation of all of the above, and plan to create one heck of an embarrassing video montage for his rehearsal dinner.)

The transition from little bundle of Moro reflexes for whom I assessed primarily through the color, consistency, quality, and quantity of his poop, to this walking, talking, imagining little person was a milestone for me as a mother. When I started to realize that this little boy had a functioning memory and was processing information in a complex way--I was gobsmacked. Toddler anthropomorphism! I quickly found my fingers typing the words toddler genius into Google. After my husband convinced me not to contact MENSA, I realized that first, I needed to stop using the cell phone so much around our son, and second, my son was not the first toddler to use his imagination.
 
As a full time working mother, the stage of imaginative play was helpful in that I started to get confirmation of all that he was doing, learning, and experiencing at his school/childcare. When the ball point pen cap was relegated to the “quiet spot” one afternoon, I had an idea of where he might have sat for a spell during the school day.

I remember one time when a barely verbal Miles was walking me in a circle over and over. I had no idea what he was doing until he collapsed to the ground and said “FALL DOWN!” Light bulb! He was playing ring-around-the-rosie, a game I had never played with him before. Extra! Extra! He’s got a memory!

One time Miles took two pieces of paper, put them on his bare feet, and told me he was going “ice skating” around our kitchen. Apparently they had ice skated at school on paper plates. (Who said you can’t enjoy winter sports in Georgia?) He was a boy genius; memory AND imagination!

A few months ago, the school cot sheets were kites.

Last week, sticks became leaf blowers.

I do whatever I can to inspire and encourage this type of creative and resourceful play with both of my boys. It’s also way cheaper than scouring Amazon for a toy leaf blower.

But we hit a new level of imagination the other day that did not lead me to research toddler MENSA. Instead, I confirmed that a 3-year-old is too young to be arrested for weapons possession, but in the unlikely event that he is headed in that direction, brushed up on my legal understanding of bail versus bond.   
Scene: Miles traipses into my room and points his new Easter bubble wand contraption-ma-bob at me and says:

GO TO THIS LINK TO CONTINUE THE STORY!!! (and then follow the blog. You can find them on Facebook, too!)

Part 2, subtitled, "When Eric pokes holes in my story coming to the blog, soon."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The naked she-pirate


I read something recently about the importance of a post titles. As if the pressure to write something of worth isn't great enough, but now we have to be all competitive with the titles, too?

Today my title is nothing more than a hook--a clever ploy to get you to click. I could call it "when my son spiked a 103 degree fever and I diagnosed him with a virus called hand-foot-mouth," but that doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as "naked she-pirate", no?

Luckily, I had some pictures that go with the title. We have these pirate eye patches from a friend's birthday party, and they tend to be a staple of our post-dinner rumpus. While Miles usually opts for the traditional eye styling, Felix gravitates to the more feminine "pirate head band" look. I don't blame him--with eyes like that, I wouldn't want to hide them, either! I don't really think Felix is a girl and am not trying to "up" the estrogen quotient in my home; personality wise, you know he is "all boy" (Or cannibal. Depends on the teeth situation.), but I just think he has an incredibly *pretty* face in large part due to his eyes and fashion sense. That boy's face...it just slays me. 

Pause.

I really have to get my affinity for tangents checked out.

Hand-foot-mouth disease.

Right.

Not to be confused with foot-and-mouth disease, which is not to be confused with BSE or mad cow disease. Because then you start talking prions and I will never sleep again for fear my child is going to be the topic of a NOVA special.  

Felix came home yesterday with the dreaded FUO: fever of unknown origin. In fact, a pod of kids were sent home yesterday. Oh, I know "pod" is the wrong categorization, but I'm usurping the title from the marine mammals and using it for a group of toddlers; don't tell me you didn't just have a great visual. Eric called me midday to inform me he was playing hookie (kidding!) and going home with Felix and also brought Miles home for good measure. He assured me: "he'll be fine tomorrow," which is code for: I hope you plan on bringing home your work computer and don't mind conference calls with Sesame Street blaring in the background when you try to work from home tomorrow.

Poor Felix woke up in the middle of the night and was burning up, pleading for water. I went into the room instructing Eric to bring in the syringe of ibuprofen I doled out before we went to bed. (We are a family bent on efficiency--dispensing ibuprofen in the dark in the middle of the night is not in my wheel house.) I waited with captain inferno, whose synapses were probably being singed by prions (at 4am, anything can happen), and calmed the cap'n with:

"Daddy will be here in a minute with your medicine. And then we will get you water, sweetie."

He'd go: "Waaaater! Waaaater!" I'd go: "I know, honey, Daddy is coming." (set to the tune of Chicago's I Can't Do It Alone). And then the dreaded: "WHYYYYYY??" Really? Throwing me the old toddler "why" curve ball in the middle of the night? I have a hard enough time fielding that response when I'm cogent.

I walked back into our room wondering where Eric was and made sure he didn't think he needed to go out back to the MEDICINE TREE to pick off some low hanging fruit full of ibuprofen. Ah, he was perched at the end of the bed still "waking" up.

Well, if you want something done right, you better do it yourself. No time for teaching lessons. So I got Felix his medicine, and Eric mustered the strength to get him water.

I put Mr Hot Potato back in bed and I sent an e-mail to work under the covers of the spare bed I was sure to take up residence in for the remainder of the night...

...and that's when I knew it was going to hit--a really good blog post. You know, the kind that germinate when you are in gridlock on I-285, or enjoying an uninterrupted shower, or at 4am when you are huddled on the spare bed on your sick boy's room. I am funniest at 4am and apparently make a mess of sense that turns into gobbledegook when the clock strikes 6am and the crystal coach turns back into a pumpkin.

Light bulb. Another invention: Whisper-dicta-blogger app!  (Much like a post's title, I'm sure the app name is of utmost importance. I'll leave that to the creative team.) It's like a dictaphone on your phone that has a super-duper sensitive microphone for you to whisper into during the middle of the night creative sessions when you don't want to get up, but also don't want to wake your bunk mates. It then generates a draft into your blog for you to refine the next day.

I'll make millions! And if I had this said app, I would have been able to compose the funny thought I had last night about making millions. All I remember now is something about a Ferrari and Britax car seats not fitting in the back. Shame I can't think of it.

Back to the prions or head shoulders knees and toes virus I diagnosed Miles with...or Felix. (Oops!) They are at that interchange able age where they know mom and dad can't get the names straight and are trained to respond to both names as well as "stinker," "boo," "baby doll," "honey," "pooks," and "you there male progeny who luged (in world record time) straight out of my birth canal." (I like to focus on my boys' athletic achievements, okay?)

So today I am left at home snuggling with a highly infected toddler who just wants to lounge on the couch and watch PBS. Strike that. Lounge in my bed and watch PBS. Our TV in the family room no longer works. I always wanted a co-sleeper.

And slowly, but surely, working mother's guilt has seeped into my consciousness; maybe it is just the prions Felix infected me with.

Will work believe me that my kid is sick again? 
Will I get fired? 
Aren't I always that mom who has walking Petri dishes from Microbiology 101?
Did the email I sent them under the covers at 4am wake them up? 
Why did I feel the need to explain the number and hue of his mouth cankers?

I agonize over this stuff at times.  I am tired of feeling like a liability or that I cannot be fully present with my ailing child. Luckily, there is one other mother at my work who has her babies in daycare, and is prey to the herd sicknesses.

Hang on...when did this post get so derailed? Probably somewhere between the 4am creative brain dump and the 11am over tired attempt at translation and composition.

And how did I go from naked pirates, to sick cows, to Mr Wizard's invention special, to working mom's guilt?

But I did get the word "Ferrari" in there. I know at one point last night I was hoping to weave in the word "archipelago" for some odd reason, but I guess that will have to wait for another middle of the night brain tsunami.

Feel better sweet baby! (Or whatever your name is.)


**Update. Last night I slept, yet again, in my son's bedroom. This time, I was asked to hold his hand and spent the night on the floor next to his bed, awkwardly holding his had. 103.3 degrees this morning. Yikes! Milkshakes and Nemo it is again. I perused Facebook while Dorey was geting blasted by jellyfish (it's not even 8 in the morning, peeps) and see that my friend posted a statement from the USDA on April 24th (THE DAY I POSTED THIS REDONKULOUSNESS) about a case of BSE! (Video below) Did I will this to happen? If so, I am currently willing a year's supply delivery of Ben and Jerry's Americone Dream to arrive at my doorstep; I'll worry about storage when Eric gets home. And I am also willing Felix's fever to go away.

 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Contrails.

It has only taken me a handful of months, but I'm finally posting about our family photo session we had with Kate T. Parker at the end of 2011.

My delinquency is a direct result of my inability to articulate my back story to her  phenomenal pictures. I realized I couldn't do justice to the experience or her work, so I am relying on her images to carry you through this post, and apologize for the clumsy and artless attempt at context.

(I also must acknowledge that her photos are responsible for my updated blog banner and profile picture.)

One of my favorite images is the one above: our family in "silhouette" with the faint contrail in the sky. Kate received some well deserved recognition for this photo at a 1650Gallery exhibition in Los Angeles, too! Boo-ya!

Bee tee dubs, contrails are the clouds left behind an aircraft. Yeah, I didn't know that, either, until my almost 4-year-old informed me.

Back story: 2011 marked some significant personal losses for my family. Losing my paternal grandparents, in fairly quick succession, was incredibly difficult for me. I was a 32-year-old who was able to say she still had all 4 of her grandparents until late 2011. And after 32 years, I was a wink away from believing in grandparental immortality.

Disclosure: one of my biggest fears is not so much dying as it is being forgotten. Well, dying is a kinda scary prospect, too.

I am afraid my grandparents will be forgotten over time.

***
(Obligatory ellipsis coupled with another one of my favorite images from the session...)
My parents and Aunt and Uncle had the task of processing my grandparents' possessions. During that time, they unearthed a small sum of cash. It was probably internally earmarked for yearly birthday gifts, or Christmas purchases. It was decided to split it among the family with the explicit instructions "use this for something special." It wasn't a large sum of money, but it was a generous sum. Sure, I could use for something practical like chipping away at my students loans, but I immediately knew what I wanted--maybe needed--to use it for: a family photo session.

My grandparents never met my children, but "knew" them through phone calls and the library of photographs we sent to their house on Steinsville Road for them to put on display. Permanent fixtures in their house. Many pictures that are now back in my possession.
And perhaps photographic memories are a key to not being forgotten.
I'm not sure if it comes across on the blog, but I love photography. Not so much the "doing", but I have a fascination with portrait photography and what Kate calls "in between moments" photography. I am someone who falls victim to the...wait...hold your breath as I am about to hit you with a dated and lame John Mayer reference...trying to fit the world inside a picture frame. (Now let's pretend that didn't happen, m'kay?)

But what do I know? As far as I am concerned, an F stop is located right after Lindbergh station on the MARTA line, an aperture refers to trombone lips, and I'm pretty sure ISO was a yacht rock band in the early 80's.  

During my hunt to find an Atlanta area photographer to do our 2011 holiday family shoot, my friend JE directed me to Kate's website and I was instantly moved.


She gets it.

She composes pictures that take my breath away. 

She has the skills and eye to capture those"in between" moments that define our life.

So I let Kate figure out all of the camera buttons and settings and booked a session. Simply, I told her I wanted pictures of my family. Not staged. No matching outfits. And please can we avoid the Olin Mills back drops? No judgement on folks who choose to take more formal pictures, I am just acknowledging the intent behind our shoot. Okay, a little judgement with the Olin Mills dig...
I wanted someone who had an eye for capturing my family's idiosyncrasies and distinguishing marks...wonky ear, slight neck tilt, searing blue eyes, shy demeanor, gregarious spirit...the defining things and indelible moments I want(ed) my grandparents to see and remember. Much like I remember the chicken peck scars on my grandmother's hands, the age spots on my grandfather's temples, or that smile that you knew was going to be followed by a chorus of "aye ye-eye ye-eye!" 

I wanted images that speak to the essence of who we are, not who we can pretend to be.

And I wanted images that could sustain even after we are gone. 
What I love about Kate's aesthetic is her authenticity.

It was the first time we have ever had photos taken when I had implicit faith that the photographer would catch what we (I) wanted without perpetually thinking "was that the shot?"

Kate just sort of stood back while we...well...lived and played like we normally do. (There might have been fewer pieces of stained shirts, running shorts, and breakfast "crustles" around the mouth.)

Oh yeah, and then she snapped some pretty awesome shots.

I consider our life to be a beautiful wreck at times--imperfectly aligned, maybe even a little blurry at at the edges and peppered with scowls, boogies, lazy eyes, projecting chins, crooked smiles, and squint lines. But all of those angles are how I want our family to be remembered.

And Kate caught it all--the moments and the  angles.

The moments were fleeting and dissipated as quickly as the contrail in that first picture. But the memories? Eternal.

Yeah. Kate gets it.


And I'm pretty sure if I could have sent an album of our shoot to Paul and Lila on Steinsville Road, they would have gotten it, too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Who do you think you are?!?!

I guess it's time to officially write a profile blurb.

My name is Ali. Or Alison (no redundant second "L"). An ex-boyfriend used to call me Ali baba. My husband's pet name for me is Neftanga, which we translate to silly thong. In second grade I attempted to adopt the moniker Ali-cat. Probably because in first grade Josh Lee repeatedly called me "Ali Diaper" since diaper sorta-not-really rhymed with my maiden name. And we all know that a surname of "Diaper" does not get one's resume to sit at the top of a pile.

Most importantly, my name is Mom. Though, I prefer "Mommy."

I'm a closet lactavist, part-time vegetarian, wanna-be-earth motherer, seltzer drinker, Goodwill shopper, weekend flosser, junior varsity procrastinator, fake photographer, professional catastrophizer, obsessive folder, Google doctor, stellar napper, loud laugher, and failed cloth diaperer-baby wearer-co-sleeper-and potty trainer.

Although I currently spend 40+ hours in the witness protection program doing some clandestine job that pays my mortgage, I think my most impressive skills include master boo boo kisser, certified nightmare extinguisher, midnight hand holder, PB and nutella maker, toddler dance partier, cancer kicker-butter, word creator, shameless gloater, and family lover.

Outside of my wedding pictures, here is one of the only pictures I like of myself:

Thank you Kate T. Parker photography!

I am surrounded by testosterone, and terrified I might grow a legit mustache in a few years. Maybe my gray roots and leg stubble will distract from any lip hair. Maybe you just thought I went too far. Maybe you should just navigate away from this page. 

I have an amazing husband, Eric, and two boys who couldn't be more different from each other: Miles and Felix. And no, they are not twins. And yes, I love that Miles's ear is crinkled on his Daddy's leg and that Felix has a boogie dripping from his nose. My blog is about reality, folks. And Kate T. Parker (linked above) is a sick photographer--sick as in takes my breath away, not H1N1.


I started this blog in 2007 when I was pretty certain I was dying from an intestinal parasite, or as some people call "pregnancy." And from that point on, it has chronicled the banality of my life, which a handful of people (read: my mom), find interesting. I've made a point to ignore all the rules of writing, including speling and grammers, because it gets in the way of my thoughts.

Sometimes what I write makes me laugh.
Sometimes what I write makes you yawn.
Sometimes I hit "publish" and then go cry in the bathroom that I just revealed the insanity of my life.

But it always tells the truth. I lived a relatively insular and privileged life until around 2007 when I say the mustard poop blew out of the diaper. In the past 4 years my family has survived a high risk pregnancy and vacation in the NICU, early intervention, an infant kooky foot and broken leg (all before 1 year), another high risk pregnancyoral cancer, colic, torticollis, chronic clogged ducts and pumping tragedies (Mamas, you *know* that can be life altering) ear tube surgery (x two), high levels of anxiety, a pregnancy loss, and I'm calculating no more than 7.5 nights of 6 straight hours of sleep. Ask my husband, and he would probably say the only problem we've had since 2007 was the drain in the back yard we finally got fixed. I married an eternal optimist. And a cancer warrior.

So, yeah. From my perspective, I have had a lot of material to work with. But don't feel sorry for me (and if you are one of those who think I need to suck it up and not complain, just don't subscribe to my blog), because I have learned not to feel sorry for myself. In part, because I use this blog as inexpensive therapy.

I have enough readers to encourage accountability (I'm an awful pen and paper journaler), but not enough to openly welcome criticism and negative comments. Although, I give anyone license to post scathing comments or reflections. I'm omnipotent in Blogger and can delete any comment I want. (Unless you threaten my family, comment on my roots or chest, or defame anything related to the series Arrested Development, I'll probably let it slide.)

It's taken me 4 years to write this profile, which makes me wonder what more I will add in the next 4 years.

Please. Join me. I'm certain to make you feel better about your life. But I'll always contend my kids are the cutest, my husband the smartest, and my hugs the best.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good Golly Miss Molly!

Let's be honest.

I'm not one of the secret winners of the Mega Millions, and I'm not going to pretend like that wack-a-doo lady who is milking her 15 minutes of fame with the whole "oh, I lost a ca-jillion dollar lottery ticket, oops!"

But Eric and I spent some quality time figuring out how to manage the money if we won it.

I would like to think we would be financially responsible, but there has got to be some splurging, no?

We've line itemed a personal chef.

Listen, I love to cook and bake, but if I'm going to be a professional philanthropist, I might not have time to make homemade organic meals each night. And what's $75,000 for a personal chef in the grand scheme of $200 million?

Truth is, I don't have that time now.

One of the struggles I have with being a full time working mother is that dinner at my house has turned into a 3 ring circus. It's better now that I am not contending with an ornery and needy 20 month old toddler while a baby hangs off my milk machine and I am simultaneously trying to stir a pot of something wholesome and puree baby food with any limb that is free. But from the time I pick up the boys  to the time I throw them in the bath (I don't throw...they  jump), my house is a cacophony of disorganized noise, (not sure noise is ever organized at my house) and dinner has suffered.

So, yeah. I didn't win the lottery. Wait, I forgot to play.

And my dreams of a personal chef (along with endowing my boy's childcare, hiring my co-worker as my personal stylist, building an amazing eco-friendly modular home, paying off all family members' mortgages, and funding the education of my children, my niece's and my good friends' kids), were spoiled.

Unless you count "Annie" and "John" as part of our residence's culinary team.

Wait. That's only hypothetical. I TOTALLY make homemade meals every night. Right.

Over the last 2 years, meal planning has been sporadic at best. And most Thursdays and Fridays we have hypothetical pizza delivered to our house.

I.just.can't.keep up.

Insert image of dark clouds parting making way for a singular ray of sunshine to grace my furrowed brow.

My children's childcare extraordinaire e-mailed me about a meal delivery service run by a daughter of one of the teachers at Eric's school.

Follow?

Her name is Molly and she runs "Molly's Meals."
Transparancy: I am completely trying to drum up business for her solely because she has a good thing going, is wicked cute and passionate about food, and has changed the devastation of the weekly 7 days of failed dinners at my house. I am getting no compensation and this is completely voluntary promotion that she didn't ask for (but did approve).

You want the nuts and bolts? Perhaps nuts and berries is more appropriate...or completely inappropriate, depending on the maturity level you are currently operating at:

  • Molly is a young (twenty something), energetic, culinary school hopeful
  • Every week she e-mails out a menu of 2 dishes that she will make and delivery to your home
  • E-mails are sent every Tuesday, orders are made before 5pm on Friday
  • She uses all organic ingredients from the Farmer's Market (Word!)
  • Meals are delivered Sunday before 5pm and...drum roll...DELIVERY IS FREE!  (Word x2!)
  • There is no subscription fee. If you like her week's offerings, just e-mail her back. If not, wait until the next week.
  • Prices are around $17-$25 for a meal that serves 4 adults (and I contend it lasts more than 4 servings)
  • I also confirmed she babysits; if she delivers to your house, you'll know why I asked her. I can smell a good babysitter from a mile away
Hello! Done and DONE. I am not superwoman, and I've tried to be for too long. I need help, and this has come at a great time. Is it a luxury? Sure, but worth every penny. And, I feel so good about helping a passionate young gal (do I sound like an old fart saying that? I'm pretty sure people used to say that about me in my youth) who has a great fledgling business going.

So, the rule is that if we get a Molly's Meal for the week, we cannot get any hypothetical pizza.

I've already gotten 2 of my co-workers to get on her route, and a neighbor, and I figured there could at least be one other Atlanta person who would like to get on her distribution list. Totally worth my blog real estate if you ask me.

In case you need some temptation, take a gander at this week's offerings (taken right from the e-mail she sends out):

Ginger-Beer Grilled Chicken with Creamy Potato Salad
Fine ingredients combine to make a dish worthy of a spring celebration. I will prepare chicken quarters doused in a barbeque sauce of ginger beer, black tea, onion, tomatoes, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, a little brown sugar and thyme (and yes, butter!) And to top it all off will be the classic accompaniment of potato salad. I promise this chicken will be a healthy version of finger-lickin-good! Along with the chicken is a simple, delicious potato salad that has been a Southern tradition for years.I combine crisp celery, white potatoes, spicy red onion, fresh dill, mayonnaise, whole-grain mustard, kosher salt and cracked black pepper for a creamy concoction that is crazed with flavor.A bite of my potato salad with tender chicken is a wonderful way to end the work day at dinner time with your family.Savor the flavor with this delectable dish!!This meal comes in two sizes.The regular size serves 4 adults and is $22.00.The large size serves 8 adults and is $44.00

Taco Soup with Zucchini Bread
I decided to make my final soup of the season one to remember by both kids (kids especially!!) and adults.I refer to this recipe as the “chili remix”-to make the soup, I use unique ingredients and Mexican spices to create a taste that is similar to eating a fresh taco with savory ground beef and delicious toppings.I use sweet Vidalia onions, fresh corn, juicy tomatoes, green chiles, and various types of beans to create a nutrient packed meal filled with flavor. If the client prefers, I will use black and green olives in the soup as well!! This entrĂ©e is served with freshly baked Zucchini bread- I know this sounds like a crazy combination with the soup, but trust me…. It totally works!! THINK: Savory + Sweet = Perfect Pair. I combine freshly grated Zucchini, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and a touch of nutmeg to make a bread that is so natural and hearty---- You Can’t Get Enough!!This meal comes in two sizes.The regular size serves 4 adults and is $25.00.The large size serves 8 and is $50.00
 **Please make all orders by Friday before 5 P.M.
 **All deliveries will be made on Sunday before 5 P.M.Please have all reusable dishes and payment for meals (cash or check) ready for pick-up during delivery on Sunday

 As Always, Thank You for Your Business!!
 Sincerely,
 Molly Greenwood
mollyg1009@gmail.com


Annnnd...you are welcome.

E-mail her.

Seriously.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I don't have daughters...but I am a girl

...and I feel it necessary to share this video.

Please watch.

Please share.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter 2012 photo DUMP

Nothing says Easter like a huge photo dump of our weekend with random captions that you all already saw on Facebook.

Enjoy--again!

Taste testing the dyed eggs...I'll let you determine the outcome.
Making gift wrap for a friend's birthday; they work best in the nude.
Felix bite...in case you thought I was lying when I said I birthed a cannibal. Don't worry...we are up on our vaccinations.
Tandem clean-up.
Outtake! (Note, there was never an intake.)
On the hunt for eggs.
Easter run.
Coiffing the cowlick (can I make coif a verb?)
Playing the Easter crucifix game?
Just.so.dirty.and.sad.
Just dangerous leaf blowing games...

I.Love.These.Faces. (But I am the biased mother.)

My Easter boys

Failed "Brothers" photo shoot.
Happy Easter!