Monday, November 22, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Vacation

With children, it's not really a vacation anymore, more a change in location. But a change in location is what we have this week.

My parents rented a house in the North Carolina mountains for us to spend Thanksgiving and luckily were amenable to us being here all week with them. I'm not sure what the week holds but I have a feeling there will be some hiking, some waterfall finding, some trains, some movies, some cocoa, some game playing, some eating and most of all, some laughter. We really needed the break. Although traveling with two kids is a lot of work, there is a lot to be said for a change in scenery. And from the sunset we watched over the mountain this afternoon while Peanut identified cloud shapes (we for sure saw a dinosaur and an alligator), this change in scenery will agree with us.

The only thing that would make it better would be if my sister and her hubby could be here now instead of coming up Wednesday (boo work commitments!). Although if they saw the way Peanut was running around here tonight trying to avoid bedtime, they would probably be thankful they aren't here yet.

After all, the crazy came with us.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Teachers

As I continue my NaNoWriMo journey, I am reminded of a couple of teachers in my life.

Mrs. Morrison was my second grade teacher. If I remember correctly, we were all a little afraid of her. She was pretty strict and a lot no nonsense. But, in second grade, we started writing stories. Around St. Patrick's Day, we were given a story prompt and we were tasked with finishing the story. Mine turned into some leprechaun story with 17 little leprechauns making mischief in my house, my parents were dismayed, but no worries (here comes the happy ending), they were the leprechauns who guarded the gold at the end of the rainbow and they agreed to share it with my family. Oh, and they promised to clean up their mess, too. A literary gem of a story, no? Probably not, but Mrs. Morrison liked it and commented on how well thought out of a story it was. She praised it so much, my English teacher aunt framed the story for me and it hung on my bedroom wall for years.

Ms. Solem was my fourth grade teacher. She was a bit more of a free spirit. We had to write and perform several skits portraying historical scenes and mythology that year, if I recall. Anyway, at the end of the year, she signed my little elementary school yearbook suggesting I become a playwright. I was on cloud nine all the way home. Where I promptly looked up what a playwright was and then deciding that yes, I wanted to be one.

I had several other teachers along the way who encouraged my writing, but I have to say, these two early educators planted a seed that continues to grow. When I sit down to put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, it is the little girl that they knew and taught every day that takes my place - the insecure, unsure, novice full of hope. And it is their words of encouragement that I hear that keep me going.

I have no idea what happened to Mrs. Morrison or Ms. Solem. I would like to tell them how important their confidence in me was and still is. I would like them to know that the influence they had on me wasn't relegated to the year they had me in their class. I would like them to know that decades later, I still think of them and wish to thank them.

So, Mrs. Morrison, Ms. Solem and all the teachers who ever truly believed we, their students, could be something, thank you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Month 12

Pumpkin is at that stage where he's becoming himself. He's finding his sense of humor and giggling at things he finds funny (mostly his brother, dogs and when I make animal noises for him). He's pointing along at books during story time. He imitates anything and everything that his older brother does. He has the most contagious full faced laugh when you tickle him that I have to remind myself not to take advantage of that trick just to get a belly laugh fix. He's learning how to ask for things, even if it's just a point, a grunt or the old "gimme" hand gesture.

He's at that wonderful age where he's on the cusp. On the cusp of communicating. On the cusp of walking. On the cusp of toddlerhood.

I love this phase. I know it won't last forever, so today, I am thankful that it's here. More importantly, maybe, I'm thankful that I recognize it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: 3 Hours

Today I am thankful for three hours of peace and quiet found in the salon chair while my fabulous stylist cut and colored my hair and kept my hands filled with trashy magazines (oh, Nikki knows what I like).

Not only did someone massage my head during a shampoo, did I find out Jake Gyllenhall and Taylor Swift are dating (WHAT? Seriously?) and I came out with a fabulous blow out I won't have to wash for at least three days (don't judge me), but I returned home with a fresh perspective. It's amazing what a three hour break from the whining and the nose wiping and the train track building can do for a gal.

Only 10 weeks until the next appointment. Not that I'm counting or anything...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: The Sweater

Today I'm thankful for my favorite sweater. Oh, it's nothing special. Just that nice, snugly sweater that looks great with anything, I feel great in and would wear just about every day if I could get away with it.

I finally broke out that sweater today for our parent-teacher conference at Peanut's preschool. All day, I felt good in that sweater.

And when you are sick with a cold and just barely holding on while caring for a sick infant and a preschooler who has no school for two days (two days, people!) because of the aforementioned parent-teacher conferences, you take what you can get.

Today, I'm thankful for that sweater. And don't judge me if I'm wearing it again in another day or so.

Monday, November 15, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Breaks and Halfway Points

You may have noticed it was dark here yesterday. Yes, I missed a day of the 30 Days of Thanks. Oh well. I'm sure I was thankful for something, but to be honest, I was most thankful for giving myself a break and just not writing over here. I have the horrible cold Peanut had last week and making myself sit down to write for NaNoWriMo was enough. When I was done, I was done. And I don't feel guilty for making myself a priority (well, after spending all day with the kids, going grocery shopping, making my own comfort food, starting the laundry and writing 1,778 words).

Today, however, I am thankful for Kleenex, pain relievers, hot tea, steamy showers and Breathe Right nasal strips. I am also thankful that I am halfway through this little experiment. Today is the 15th of the month, which means only 15 more days to go. In terms of word count, I'm 794 away from actually hitting the 25,000 halfway point. However, THANKS to my favorite character, we racked up the words tonight to nearly obliterate the deficit I was in from a skipped night early on. I really can't thank her enough for having so much to say today. Here's hoping the rest of these yahoos I'm writing about have something to say tomorrow.

In the meantime, me and the Kleenex *sniff* are headed to bed *cough*.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Throat Drops

The hubby had a cold that started Halloween weekend. Pumpkin was sick that following week. Peanut got the cold and cough this week. And now? My throat hurts.

I shouldn't be surprised. I've been wiping up Peanut's nose for the last three days and although I try to wash my hands after each time, I'm not sure what was rubbed on me Thursday night when he ended up in bed with us, insisting on snuggling with mama and coughing and sniffling all over my pillow. Bleh.

Today is that day of a cold where you feel it coming. The drip is in the back of your throat making it burn when you swallow. Your eyes feel tired. You know that there isn't anything you can do to stop it.

And so today I am thankful for the good old Ricola throat soothers that ease the discomfort for a little bit. Tomorrow, I imagine I'll be thankful for the soft tissue the hubby picked up from the store for me. Or cough medicine. Or both.

Although, as crappy as I'm starting to feel, I'm also thankful that Peanut still needs/wants mama snuggles to make him feel better. I suppose the cold is a small price to pay for my child's comfort.

Or so I keep telling myself as I avoid swallowing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Sticking with it

Today I am thankful that I haven't given up.

It's true that most nights I sit down at the computer complaining about how hard NaNoWriMo is, how what I'm writing is totally trite, how I hate this character one day only to hate this other character the next, how I'll never be able to write 1,667 words tonight, how this stinks and blah, blah, blah.

And most nights, I'm wrong. Most nights I don't have much of an idea of where the story is going. Occasionally, I have a brainstorm in the middle of the day and can't wait to see where it's going to lead. A lot of the time, I'm writing a whole lot of crap only to find a nugget of potential buried in there somewhere. And it's that nugget that keeps me going, keeps me coming back, keeps me interested enough to see where it's going to go.

There has only been one night where I didn't write at all (but I had some really valid excuses, really) and then one night when some technical issues drove me to the point of panic and I wrote about 500 words and then nearly face planted on the computer from exhaustion so the hubby sent me to bed.

Although most nights you'll hear me complaining, I'm still sitting down each night to write.

18,451 words to date. 31,459 to go.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Veterans Day

Today, I am thankful for veterans - past, present and future.

Forgive me for linking back to an earlier post, but I wrote this during the inaugural 30 Days of Thanks in 2008 and I couldn't think of a way to say it better, so...I'll say it again.

And I'll say this again: Thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Tech Support

Sure, I was thankful for the hubby already during this little exercise, but tonight, he came home from the gym when I called him in a panic because my ancient computer ate my homework.

More specifically, my ancient, evil, spiteful computer ate my 13,739 words (yes, I'm counting) before I started the night's writing.

Luckily, he found them and they are since backed up. A lot.

As frustrating as this NaNoWriMo project has been so far, when I was faced with losing it all, faced with having to start over, I was scared. I didn't want to lose the people I've created so far. I didn't want to lose the journey they have started on. I want to see where they end up. Thankfully, my own personal tech support guru has given me back that opportunity.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: It's a Lame One

Today, I'm thankful for frozen pizza. Oh yeah, I said it.

We spent a lovely afternoon at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens with some friends. A long enough afternoon that the roast chicken I originally planned to do for dinner would not have enough time to roast. No problem, I'll just do some quesadillas instead, except the avocado for my black bean, corn, tomato and avocado salsa wasn't ready yet.

Like I said, today I'm thankful for a frozen pizza in the freezer and the fixings for salad in the fridge. Dinner saved. Not dinner great, but dinner saved.

Monday, November 8, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: A Change in Direction

Let's just say this morning was chock full of bad mommy moments before 9am.

Thanks to a finally fever free Pumpkin, a morning break with Peanut off to preschool and a workout on a beautifully warm fall morning, the afternoon did not follow the same path. A deep breath and a conscious decision to not repeat the same morning mistakes made for a calmer, more patient mommy.

Sometimes recognizing the pattern doesn't always lead to breaking it. I am thankful that today it did.

Here's to hopefully getting on the right road the first time tomorrow.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

30 Days of Thanks; Applesauce Cake

My great-grandmother made an applesauce cake she would send to my Uncle B. (a different uncle than has recently appeared in this space) while he was in the service. As legend would have it, the guys in his unit would fight over pieces of the cake, devouring it within moments of the care package having been open.

Today, I am thankful for this super simple, dairy-free cake and the fact that Pumpkin's fever appears to have broken this afternoon long enough for him to enjoy it. Two days late, we finally had a good old cake-smashing time for his first birthday.

I'm not sure of the truth of the tales that my uncle's buddies watched his mail call just to see if a cake had arrived for him, but I can attest to the fact that my little guy thought it was pretty much the best thing he's ever eaten.

Although, in all honesty, he's been subsisting on a diet of plain noodles, bananas and Cheerios for the last 5 days.

Either way, I know I'm looking forward to a piece.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Saturday Doctor's Hours and Mom

Pumpkin has been sick all week. The lovely "D" word. Ick. However, he'd been acting normally, despite the current state of his intestinal track. I made the obligatory call to the nurse's line, got my instructions and happily went about my week planning our next trip up to NC. We were planning on going up this weekend for my uncle's memorial service, which meant we canceled Pumpkin's 1st birthday party we had originally planned for at home this weekend and decided to do a smaller, immediate family lunch in NC.

Until last night. A half hour before leaving to pick the hubby up at the airport, I noticed Pumpkin had a fever. Ugh. Fever, of course, being one of the symptoms the nurse said we should watch for, advising we bring him in if one developed.

Thankfully, our pediatrician has walk-in hours on Saturday mornings. I packed us up last night for our road trip, hoping we could simply depart a little later than planned and then brought Pumpkin to the doctor first thing this morning. Although it's nothing serious and probably just a virus, the doctor "could not in good conscience" advise us to go on this road trip.

After the week I had, I made it to the elevator after checking out before I started to feel the tears coming on. Losing my uncle, the trip up to NC and back last weekend, a sick baby, the hubby out of town all week, a 4 year old's rebellion on day 4 of hubby being out of town, unpacking from one trip just to repack for another, canceling one party just to plan for another 7 hours away, locking Pumpkin and my keys in the car yesterday...let's just say a kink in the plans was not exactly what my psyche could handle this morning.

Thankfully, there is my mom. When I called and told her Pumpkin wasn't any better, what the doctor said and that I had looked up flights to fly up to the memorial alone, she in no uncertain terms told me I needed to stay home. She said everything I knew was true and everything I needed to hear and listened to me cry and hem and haw and try to reason my way into going, but, in the end, won. We are staying home.

It's not that I don't think the hubby could take care of Pumpkin while I was gone, I know he would. It's the thought of Pumpkin reaching out for me and me not being there. It's the reality that every minute I was gone, I'd be thinking about Peanut - and would that be fair to anyone else?

My family means a lot to me. It's a big, rambunctious group who live and love loudly. Not being there to support a branch that's been damaged is tearing me up inside. My thoughts, prayers and heart will be with them all on Monday. But, I know I have to do what's best for my little ones.

If I've learned anything since becoming a parent it's that kids have impeccable timing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Happy Birthday, Pumpkin

Today, little Pumpkin, you are one. You are on the brink of toddlerhood and I have no idea how it happened. Everyone told me to cherish your babyness since the second time around goes so much faster. And I tried, really I did. But somehow, here you are, all bright smiles and toothy grins and I can barely remember that newborn squishyness.

Luckily, for me, you aren't walking yet, so I can hold onto your babyhood for awhile longer. You've started to ask to be picked up in your own little hold onto mommy's knees attempting to climb up her leg until she picks you up kind of way. You babble constantly and we're all trying to latch on to any words or consistent sounds for things. You idolize your big brother. Dinner has gotten out of control with the two of you egging each other on. You spent the other night imitating every action Peanut did, much to the delight of both of you.

I can barely remember our family life without you, proving that you were the missing link to our little family. Not that it wasn't perfect before, but you've brought our little clan to a whole new level of perfection. Oh sure, adding a second one to the family has brought its own kind of stress with it, managing schedules and various needs. But the new laughter? The wonder when you discover new skills like clapping or waving? The squeals when you're crawling all over your big brother in his bed during bed time stories? Let's just say I wouldn't change it.

We've been through a lot, you and I. There was my hospitalization when I was separated from you on your 12th day for the longest 24 hours of my life. There was your trip to the children's hospital when I had to forcefully hold down your arm to keep the IV in. There was the time I locked you in the car with the keys and had to play peek-a-boo with you until help arrived (oh wait, that was today - happy birthday).

You're brother made me a mother. You've made me a better mother. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Here's to another year of belly laughs, discovery and a few bumps along the way to keep it interesting.

Your Mama

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: The Hubby

The hubby is currently out of town on a trip that keeps getting longer and longer each day NASA doesn't send Discovery into space. I've written about the hubby's love of space before and his attempts to see a shuttle launch as a bystander. Since then, however, he's leveraged his space knowledge into an asset for his employer and is in Florida to cover his second space launch. I'm so proud of all that he's done and is doing.

That being said, I'm really ready for him to be home. Especially at about 4pm when the witching hours begin and I realize that I don't have a reprieve at 6pm like I usually do. Factor in a sick Pumpkin this week and planning Pumpkin's second first birthday party (it's complicated) and I'm simply exhausted. Having the hubby gone shows me just how much he does do around here.

It's really easy for me to feel like I'm doing all the heavy lifting since I'm the one home all day with the boys. I manage the school stuff, handle the meals, do the grocery shopping, laundry, etc... But I'm truly lucky in that I have a hubby who handles breakfast every morning for the boys. He takes care of bath and bedtime, too, while I clean up dinner and pop in for a last nursing session and good night kisses. He's always there for me when I need him and it's been pretty lonely without him around to just be a presence in my day.

Plus, let's face it, I really enjoy being able to sleep until 7:30 while he gets up with the kiddos. 6:05 just isn't all that fun for me.

So, sweetie, in case I don't tell you enough, thank you. Thank you for taking risks at work and showing our boys what hard work can accomplish. Thank you for all the you do here to keep me sane. Thank you for being a wonderful father. Thank you for all the little things you do to try to make my day easier.

Try to remember that when I complain about the "to file pile" when you get home. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Dessert

Today I am thankful for honey vanilla chamomile tea and shortbread cookies. The promise of those two items have honestly been the only things to get me through the last three hours of solo parenting during bedtime, dinner clean up and writing.

I really wanted to pack it in and fire up the DVR tonight after getting the kids in bed. It's been a long day. The hubby's out of town on a business trip. I have 800 different things to get done before another trip out of town this weekend with the family. Pumpkin's been sick and was up at 4:30 this morning.

Instead of giving into DVR temptation, however, I promised myself the orange frosted shortbread cookie (sorry honey, you leave it here, I eat it) and a cup of tea at the end of my day's writing. And that's really all I have the energy to say about that.

Excuse me, I have a cookie to eat before I pass out in bed.

NaNoWriMo update: 1,996 words tonight, 4,904 total. I'm just 97 words shy of where I should be on day 3.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Impromptu Field Trips

Today, I am thankful for a last minute field trip to the Georgia Aquarium.

School was canceled today for Peanut because the church is a polling place. We just came back from out of town yesterday, meaning a tough re-entry day as it is, not to mention a tough day fooling with the school routine. Oh, and did I mention that the hubby left dark and early this morning for a several days long business trip?

Months ago, I had purchased a discounted ticket from the aquarium during Mommy & Me promotion. And so we put it to use. Peanut LOVED it. We found lots of cool things to explore and learn about. Pumpkin was happy to just stare at the fish from his stroller. We had a nice, if overpriced, lunch. We played, we goofed off, we giggled.

As we were driving home, talking about all the interesting things we'd seen, Peanut piped up from the back seat and said "I had an awesome time at the aquarium, mommy."

Despite the unpacking, the mail piles to sort, the exhaustion I feel from a busy weekend of travel, I am thankful for blowing it all off for an impromptu day of fun. The great thing is that Peanut appreciated it, too.

Now, what to do to get us through the afternoon until bedtime? I see drawing pictures of fishies in our future!

Monday, November 1, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: 1,113 Words

Hi, my name is High Heeled Mama and I am a glutton for punishment.

While attempting to tackle NaNoWriMo, I was also reminded that 30 Days of Thanks has arrived. Back in 2008, I was in need of a little refocus and therefore challenged myself to write every day about something I was thankful for. Last year, a friend took on the task, since I was busy getting to know my little Pumpkin, and turned it into a movement. Since I am oh so thankful that a little idea I had blossomed into something so much bigger than I could have imagined, I feel the need to show my gratitude by joining in this year.

Today, I am thankful for 1,113 words.

We spent the weekend in NC for UNC's homecoming and drove back today. After seven hours in the car, a super fast grocery run to stock up for the week, two loads of laundry, making dinner, taking a shower, kid bedtime and profusely thanking the hubby for all his help accomplishing all those things, I finally sat down and forced my brain into "creative mode."

THANKFULLY, something came out and 1,113 words found their way onto the computer screen. Sure, I could have pushed myself a little further instead of coming to a stopping point and doing just that, but 1,113 words seems like about 1,100 more than I thought I'd come up with and for that I am grateful. If I can squeeze out 1,113 when I haven't got a clue what I'm going to say and am bone tired on top it, than tomorrow should certainly be a better day for writing.

Time will tell.