Monday, November 25, 2013

The Kitchen!


I have to be honest, but the kitchen is too messy to photograph right now. I went to the grocery store yesterday (the first time in over a month) and spent $200- without a drop of wine. One of the managers saw me and asked if I needed a second buggy.

I told her, "Thanks, but no. That would just be embarrassing."

The grocery bags are in a bag on the floor, waiting to be tossed.

LMC and I made food for Bennie and put those little containers in the freezer... the Cuisinart is in the sink.

The girls and I went to church on Saturday night and the bulletin sits beside me- next to a rag that LMC used to blow her nose and a container of wipes. I cleaned out my car and there sits a few old bottles within olfactory distance. My stove is clean and those poinsettias that were going to look so beautiful on my front porch are an arm's length away.

Just an FYI- poinsettias are not an outdoor plant. And the berries are poisonous. They really are the perfect thing to have around with small children, especially the kind of small children that like to put everything in their mouth. They will be staying on the counter until I can a good home for them out of a baby's reach.

The table is being set in the dining room- which has doubled as my office for a few weeks and all those papers are now at the edge of the counter, next to the bananas and the duster.

Like I said- it ain't fit for company today. But, Housekeeper Katie comes on Wednesday and that's when we will get all this in line. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, LMC had her Thanksgiving pageant at her preschool last Wednesday and it was really sweet. She and Niece walked in side by side dressed as Indians. The kids got to pick out their names. One boy chose Sleeping Giraffe (he wanted "peei*g giraffe" because that's what they do, but the teacher coaxed him to something a little more appropriate. Giraffes + Indians = I get it), a little girl chose the obvious Pocahanatas. Our kids? Niece was Darth Vadar and LMC was Princess Fluttershy.

We were proud.

The kids made decorations for the tables where the families had a Thanksgiving feast. There were placemats with finger prints, little tipis (I googled it- yes, that is spelled correctly), and maize-- not to be confused with corn. At the end of the day, the children rounded up their school-made treasures and we headed home.

Cool-- my kid learned about the pilgrims and Indians. Thanksgiving lesson-- check.

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria will probably be next year. The Trail of Tears-- a few years later, but Indians and how they saved the Pilgrims... done.


Fast forward to the next day and LMC is playing with her little tipi made of sticks and a paper plate (clearly authentic) and started asking me questions about Indians and tipis.

Mom, why do Indians have tipis?
Well, they sleep in them at night to keep them warm and dry.
Why do tipis have sticks?
The Plains Indians were nomads and the equipment for making tipis was lightweight and could easily go on their backs as they traveled.

A few more questions and then...

Mom, are Indians good swimmers?
"Oh YES!" I say emphatically, "Indians are excellent swimmers. They were very resourceful and could fish with their bare hands."
Are they better swimmers than people?

crickets chirping in the background. The girl who says nomad to her child and references the Plains Indians is speechless... deadpan.

Finally, I say, "Yes, Indians are people, too."

HUNH?! Indians are people?

Indeed. They are people just like you and me.

MOTY... Thanksgiving lesson. Failed.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Where do you get it from?

I was told that those lights were very expensive. Those lights made their way to a bag, that my husband meant to throw away, but forgot. Instead, that bag made it's way to the farm via his mother and then back again. We found them (after forgetting about them) in the garage and I thought to myself, "Self- let's sell those suckers."

Self went to the antique lighting store to discover it closed early for Veteran's Day, so Self headed next door to an antique store to see if she could tell me anything about them. While I waited, I perused the lovely china, the lights, and the pieces of furniture I could not afford, discreetly making my way back to the clearance bin. Lovely things in my price range, I poked around and found four packs of chocolate brown hemstitched linen napkins- each containing four. The oversized ones-- those ones that are like blankets when you are sitting at a fancy meal. I remember being a kid and eating dinner at the country club and wrapping myself in one of those suckers when I was freezing cold (or crazy sleepy).

No price tag.

Seriously? Then they must be free. My wheels turn. No, I didn't stick them down my shirt, even though they lacked theft-protection tags that Family Dollar uses. I round up the four packs of four and head to the front.

Dead pan. No laughing. No fear.

How much are these? They were in the clearance room.
She has to look it up. She's unsure the price of the packs, but they retail for $16.25 a napkin.
Yes, a napkin. - deadpan. This isn't her first rodeo.

Let the negotiating begin. Mentally, I crack my knuckles.

(don't laugh, Self. Don't laugh.)

She says, "How about $5 a napkin?"
I say, "How about $5 a pack." (holy my breath, count to 10)
She looks at me and asks, "Who do you get this from? Your mom or your dad?"
I look back, doe-eyed, "Get what from?"
"This," a wiggle of her finger, "This... negotiating, this bargaining, this-this."
"Oh, totally my dad," a pause. I wiggle my eyebrows and smile bringing the conversation back to these napkins, "How 'bout $10 a pack?"
She cocks her head and stops. Obviously, she too, is counting to 10.

(Don't. Laugh. Deadpan. Show no fear.)

A pause. "Yep. $10 a pack. They're out of your hair and I am gone."
SCHWING! Here's the cash.

"Your dad will be proud."
"My dad will give me high-five. My mother will crawl under the table and DIE when I tell her."

Turns out, those lights were not the valuable things we were told- they weren't even worth the $40 of the napkins- don't worry, I was totally willing to make a fair trade. They made their way back to the house, where they were stripped of the crystals and tossed in the trash. I never liked them anyway.

Coming up- hopefully tomorrow, but maybe next week-- the kitchen! Husband is sanding the backsplash right now and LMC is eating her breakfast next to power tools and amongst a lot of construction dust.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Six you say?

I suck at getting splinters out. Even with tweezers.

I went to the oldest high school in the southeast. King George chartered it. It opened its doors in 1783. President George Washington attended the commencement of the class of 1791. I can recite those two facts from memory.

Walking is my favorite mode of transportation.

I am not organized, however, I have excellent organization skills.

I know how to foxtrot. Not to mention the waltz, tango, and the polka.

Every night, when I tell the girls good night, I promise them that I will try and be a better mother tomorrow.

I am a closet lover of blues music.

I joked so much with Husband about naming Bennie 'Sowega Colquitt (pronounced: Sew-We-Ga Call-Quit),' that the name actually started to sound like a good choice to me.

When I was pregnant with LMC, I consulted my doctor about using acupuncture in lieu of an epidural. I was that scared of the big needle. Reality caught up with me. It was not until I sat and typed this do I realize the irony in a bunch of little needles verse one big needle.

Since the Alanis Morissette song, "Ironic," I have trouble determining when things are actually ironic.

Mosquitos steer clear of me.

I am full of worthless knowledge-- the end of a shoelace is called an aglet.

I am not allergic to poison ivy- that being said, I avoid it like the plague. I am allergic to sunscreen, Husbands asthma medicine, hair dye, and a plethora of other things.

I can start a fire without matches.

I learned how to apply eyeliner in 2009. I was 28.

My favorite color is turquoise. Second is green. Those poppy kind of hues are my favorite.

As a kid, I wore a uniform to school-- navy blue skirt and a white shirt. To this day, I will not wear that color combination.

I won't buy a whole chicken since giving birth to LMC- it reminds me too much of holding a baby.

Tomatoes gross me out. It's the seeds.

I love BLTs.

Clutter makes me feel claustrophobic.

My name was Natalie for the first three days of my life.

Hydrangeas are my favorite flower. It used to be daisies.

I have a collection of records, yet no record player.

A little babys tongue is the cutest part of their body to me.

I can watch The Godfather on repeat.

I started college at 16.

I don't like dogs.

A strawberry fork is my favorite sterling piece. I own none.

If I could have one meal for the rest of my life- it would be a turkey sandwich.

I don't know how to paint my own finger nails.

While I can get anywhere in the state of South Carolina with my eyes closed via any back road, interstate, highway, or power line off-road... I cannot find my way out of a paper bag as soon as I cross into the neighboring county.

I lack an ability to make hamburger patties. No matter what I do, they always fall apart.

I am a sucker for eggnog. Mostly because it is a drink with nutmeg.

I love to paint walls. I do not paint trim. I do not do a stick of prep work. I do not make a mess.

I kick serious tail at PinBall.

I do not kick serious tail at Ping Pong.

I was in college the first and only time I saw a Star Wars movie.

I have owned three houses in my own right. This is my fourth home and the second one that Husband and I have owned together. Of my four homes, all have had pink bathrooms.

I have an unusual fear of staple guns.

I cannot sing. At all.

We have a landline at my insistence. Our friends think we are crazy for spending the extra money.

I love polishing silver.

I sold bread in DC to meet people and make friends. It worked.

I do not eat crusts, nor the heal of the bread.

My biggest and worst fear is that I will get a fishhook in my eye. Think about that for a minute.

While I can quote Shawshank Redemption like it's my job, I have never seen it.

One time, a stray cat came into my garage and I wanted to keep it. I had read in Ann Landers that to keep a cat around, cover the paws with butter. All I had was margarine. I had four plastic spoons full of margarine and covered the poor cats paws. I never saw him again.

I really think that Big Trouble in Little China is under-appreciated.

Husband is 12 days my senior.

Fish sticks are the only thing I will eat with ketchup.

In college, I owned a pair of black pleather pants. I also owned a pair of snake skin pants. These two items are still in my possession.

ET scares me.

I think popped collars are cute.

My brother finds my laugh annoying. He says it is too loud. He also says that I am a terrible driver.

I prefer water without ice.

I prefer to sleep with five pillows. Husband will only let me get away with four.

There was a summer in college where I ate nothing but eggs and turkey sandwiches. It was the only thing I knew how to cook.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You can google anything

Several years ago, my neighbor and longtime friend, Charlsie, showed me how you can text a question to "G-O-O-G-L-E" and get an answer.

"Cessna airplane" goes out and prices come back. In case you were curious, back in 2007, Cessna airplanes were going for about $18k, if memory serves correctly. I'd get bored at night, and with my unlimited texting capabilities- I'd text to Google and get responses.

What did I do with my time before children?

As technology advanced, so did Google's capabilities.

We got a new housekeeper. Her name is Katie and she is really sweet. She is young, hardworking, and trying to put herself through school while supporting her two year old daughter. I really like her. One of the things we agreed on was that I would supply all the cleaning supplies.

Now, let's be honest- the last time I actually went shopping for cleaning supplies instead of the occasional Windex was probably around 2002 when I was moving out of my college apartment. This was before it was cool to be organic, recycling was not required, and people still had land-lines.

Things have changed in 11 years.

One thing that has not is that Family Dollar still has goods on the cheap. Before Katie came, I headed to the nearest Family Dollar- the same one that was robbed at gunpoint last week, as a matter of fact. Needless to say, it's not in the best part of town. But this girl spent three years in the city. I was armed with my wits and, well, mostly just my wit.

Family Dollar has a lot of stuff. All kinds of cool stuff. Duck Dynasty placemats, Bounce Basic paper towels, and cleaning supplies.... lots and lots of cleaning supplies.

Those regulars in there must have thought me a spectacle in their abode as I read labels and checked prices before dropping things in my little red buggy. A mop? Yep- need one of those. Broom? Yeah... where is mine? Drop it in. Where are the Swiffers? Oh-- on the clearance rack, which made the MSRP $15, down to $8 at Family Dollar, but on the clearance rack? Sweet- $4!

Old English? Yes
409 heavy duty? yes and yes, please
Awesome cleaner? Oh, absolutely
Lysol toilet bowl cleaner? three go in the buggy... three go out when I found a package for half the price -- buy two, get one free.
Toilet bowl brushes? Yep... need those
Furniture polish?
10 gallons of Fabuloso and Murphy's cleaner? absolutely. What's Fabuloso, you ask? I have no idea- but it's purple and there were 10 gallons of it for $8. Katie'll know what to do with it.
Gillette triple razors for $3? Toss it in.

RAGS! I need rags! Up and down and up and down for the rags. Rags at Family Dollar are truly that, rags. And they come complete with electronic sensors so people, such as myself, cannot drop them down their shirt and stealth out of the Family Dollar with the booty of rags. The Swiffers are safe, but the rags-- those suckers need protection.

I drop rags and rags and more rags in the buggy and head towards the checkout. I ask the lady as she rings up my $112.74 worth of stuff if this is the most she has rung up today.

"Today? Try this month! One time, at Christmas, I rung up $254! That was three buggies worth!"

Glad I could make her day. Glad I could get out of there with my wits still in tact. Glad I could get home to discover that she was so busy being impressed by my $112.74 worth of cleaning goods (and razors) that she didn't remove those pesky tags.

I was not going to take my two children back there, to unload them, to take them inside, to keep LMC hemmed in while I explained to the new cashier that I did not stuff those rags down my shirt, rather, I paid for them and need those dang things removed.

I just was not going to do it.

So, I thought about it. And thought some more... maybe a little too hard on it. Could I safely "google" how to remove electronic tags without the FBI coming through my brand new windows or the priest calling to see what sins I have committed?

Sure I could. As long as Husband wasn't home, I could.

This morning, I pulled out the rags I had stashed in the back of the closet- no need to have evidence of a thief when one is not a thief. I tried pulling at them a few times before tossing them aside and sat at my computer, poised at the ready to type in "how to remove electronic tags."

First pop-up:

"How to remove electronic ankle bracelet"

I sighed with relief, at least I wasn't THAT bad.

Apparently, if one has a closet full of tools- one can get that those tags off. I grab Husband's hammer and set to banging the goods out of the electronic tags.

I was a rebel. And it felt good.

The more I slammed the hammer to the plastic harness, the more liberating it felt to be bad-- even if I was completely in my right, having paid for the goods. One popped off.

"FREEDOM!" screamed William Wallace in the background.

A second, third, fourth... why do these little tags keep people from stuffing rags down their shirts when all they need is a hammer and some strength to free the rags from the bondages of plastic tags?

The door opens, unbeknownst to this derelict of society.

Husband walks up behind me, to see what I am beating -- probably praying it is not one of the kids-- and peers over my shoulder, almost blinded by the swing of a hammer. I stop.

"What the hell, Wife? Did you steal those?"

"Oh, no. Um, well- see, I went to Family Dollar yesterday downtown."

"The one that was robbed?"

"Yeah, don't worry- I wasn't there when that happened. But, I bought these rags."

"Why are the tags on them?"

"She forgot to remove them- too impressed that I spent so much money at the Family Dollar."

"Wait- how much did you spend?"


"At the Family Dollar?"



"Well, I didn't stick them down my shirt, if that's you're asking."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A moment

We packed our bags last week, left home to head home. My mom said over and over that we should  leave the kids with them- it'll be easier to get around the city without one or even two children who have to have their hands held, their diapers changed, their bottles fixed, their potty breaks reminded.

I told her she was crazy. I didn't know what I would do in the city without them.

We loaded two rolling bags, one Minnie Mouse bag, a diaper bag, and a bag of toys onto the airplane and pointed northward. It was amazing to see the lights of the city through my little window as we touched down by the Potomac. The air felt a little lighter. Husband and I held hands a little longer with LMC. Even Bennie bounced a little more happily in her carrier.

We caught a cab which deposited us at The Fairmont in Georgetown. Pretty swanky and definitely the most kid-friendly hotel we have ever stayed. Husband looked at me as we pulled out of the airport and said, "Damn, it feels good to be home."

Husband and Wife walked to breakfast every morning, found burger joints that served amazing milkshakes, went to our favorite restaurant in Woodley Park and toted those two kids with us as we never learned how to do it any other way. Husband had a conference he had to attend, but would join up with us in the afternoon for whatever adventure we were on that day.

This is why they call her "Mama Bits" (also, please note the lipstick LMC wanted to put on for An-Ew)
We met up with our favorite friends and made a trek to the zoo. An-Ew and LMC saw each other and it was as if no time has passed. The two brothers and their ever-companion for three years ran around the zoo, ate fruit snacks, fed animals, and did not scream at a single chicken. Bennie had her diaper changed on a park bench and a lunch of hotdogs fed both our souls and our stomachs as it felt so wonderful to be with our people and know that the Mama Tribe was within an arms distance. After hours walking up and down the zoo, we headed to Mama Bits' new house that they recently purchased. The large windows, the awesome floors, and ohhh- the space. It is as if it were made for them.

After a day at the zoo, pizza for supper, trains, Legos, and mess after mess- we gave our friends hugs and called a cab.

The next day, we discovered that our friends were all ill-- they caught something somewhere that we, thankfully, missed.

Not missing a beat, LMC, Bennie, and I made our way to Rose Park for swinging with other kids- only a handful speaking English- the rest speaking French, Spanish, German, and something I had no idea what it was. LMC found a common language amongst them all-- play. Sophia, a French girl, pushed LMC on a bike before Guiton, a German boy, grabbed the hands of both the girls and pulled them to the slide. I pushed Bennie on the swing and watched my little girl make friends with such ease and saw her smile and laugh. It was one of those surreal moments, knowing it will be gone in a blip, but in this moment- it was all perfect.

The next day, our last full day there, I waited 45 minutes for a bus that never showed. WMATA tested both my frugality and my patience. It was cold. My nose was running. LMC was being awesome. It was only when Bennie's wheels started to fall of and she couldn't stop crying (probably from the frost bite?) did I admit defeat and hail a cab to take us the 1.5 miles down to the Natural History Museum where LMC could run, run, run and I could chase her.

Husband met up with us after lunch and we strolled down to the American History museum where we ran around some more. We spent time together as our little family of four doing things we always love to do. After he left to head back for his presentation, Mama Bits picked us up and took us to the library where we would meet up with the rest of the Tribe.

After getting kicked out of the library-- ("Excuse me, the adults should be modeling good behavior for the children." -- all from a hug and a HI! when the second round of mom and kids showed up.) we headed over to Tunnicliff's for dinner. The children crawled under the table, ate their dinner under the table and the mom's talked, laughed, and parented whichever kid was closest to them. The moms were outnumbered nine to five. We made it work, we tipped well, and enjoyed those few quick moments we got to spend together.

LMC, Bennie, and I called another cab, and headed back to our home, The Fairmont.

The last day, we packed our bags, took one last trip to Rose Park, picked more leaves to take home, and finally hailed that last cab to take us to the airport. We loaded those same bags onto the same plane that took us home. I held my hand on the glass of the window for a few moments as we took off. Husband held my hand, leaned over and said, "Don't worry- we'll be back soon enough. Let's get home. Our family misses us and I am ready to see them."

He was right. We are where we belong, but it sure felt wonderful to have a few minutes back in DC. And it felt good to land in Hometown to see my parents pick us up and know that Husband's parents would be here the next day for a two day trip.