Know what's more fun than spending the last day of your Thanksgiving vacation with your cousin riding around your great-grandparents' house in a portable wheelchair?

Wheelz 2
Wheelz 3
Wheelz 4
Wheelz 1

Nothing, that's what. (Sorry for the red eyes and terrible cropping or lack thereof, but I can't get Picnik to work in Flickr and if I wait until I get home to jigger with the pictures, then I'll forget to post them, and it would be a low-down dirty shame if I ruined NaBloPoMo on the VERY LAST DAY.)


Quick Getaway

Here is why I am a terrible person: while my sister was in town for a whole week, I took advantage of the opportunity for free babysitting, and G and I left Shae (and my fancy camera) with her for a few hours so we could quick sneak out and see "Harry Potter." And the part I feel worst about? Is that I couldn't bring myself to try to stretch the outing into dinner and a movie. It was Black Friday, people. There are crazies out there. But we needed a small break from all the family togetherness, because COME ON. These kids are go-go-go all the time, as small children are wont to be.

(No) Bubble Mower
Bundled Up

Evidently there was some vitally important yardwork that needed to get done at my parents' house. Meanwhile, I think I might have a yard under the piles of leaves in the front and back of the house. The only kind of domestic business that got done at my place over the course of our time off was a thorough bathroom cleaning, complete with new shower curtain liners and new thumbtacks holding the wallpaper to the sheetrock. And my husband did that while I was at my other sister's baby shower on Saturday. (I didn't even bring him home a piece of cake!)

Worky Worky Busy Bee
Share The Work

And in between all the running around and bubble-mowing and wagoneering and whatever the hell else the kids were doing, they still found time to go get their picture taken with Santa (which I will post later, as soon as I either scan the pics or get the digital file from my sister) and managed to pose for outdoor magic-hour soft-lighting glamour shots, which -- let's face it, they're better than mine. That camera is made of magic, for serious.


Now Joey is back in Chicago and we won't see him in person again until sometime around Christmas, which is a bummer, because that kid has the most perfect head ever, totally blonde and soft and smells-good and melonious (a word I made up, meaning "like a melon"). Shae is distraught and she didn't want to go to school today -- she blamed it on the cold (only 25°F this morning, brrr!), but I know it's because she's bummed that her partner in crime is on the lam.

Me? I'm hoping for another quick getaway soon, but this time I'm going to the library or something, because after six days of nonstop shenanigans, I could really use a nap.


27 Days Left: A Poem

The tree is up, our stockings hung,
"You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" was sung,
The unwrapped gifts sit in a heap ...
And all I want to do is sleep.

We have to check the strings of lights
And make sure the ornaments look right
But that is for tomorrow, I think --
Right now, I really need a drink.

I cannot dream of sugar plums
With so little time before Christmas comes.
I haven't even made a list
Of stuff I'd like to get as gifts.

I have to pick out Christmas cards
And that part will be extra hard
Because my kid's all wriggly;
She won't sit still in front of the tree.

Don't know if I'll have time to bake
The twelve kinds of cookies I usually make
And still find a way to watch all the shows
That are filling up my poor TiVo.

So if you're looking, you will find
Me sitting here, going out of my mind.
Not that this is anything new --
Before Christmas, there is just so much to do.


I'll Fly Away

On Tuesday night, before it started to get cold and snowy, hundreds of Canada geese landed in the cornfield behind my grandparents' house. No doubt they were carbo-loading before the weather turned.

Chasing Geese

We chased them, of course. Shae wanted to catch one and keep it for a pet.

Geese in Flight

I've seen that many geese in flight all at one time before. Of course I've seen them in your standard V-formation, flying south for the winter, but this was a WHOLE LOT of geese, all flying into the air at once. It was awesome and terrifying. Very Alfred Hitchcock-esque, with more fear of giant loads of droppings.

Happy Happy

Not that these two cared one whit. They wanted to get as close as they could.


Yard Work

Before the weather turned -- it's been cold and wet the last two days, and yesterday we even had a little snow (on Thanksgiving!) -- we put the kids to work in my grandmother's yard. Lots of leaves to clean up, you know, and we have to get everything done before the snow comes for real.

Good Helpers

Of course, we don't all have the same idea about what constitutes yard "work."


Fortunately Joey has an excellent work ethic, unlike his degenerate slack-ass cousin, and he kept Shae in line and made her clean up her mess.

Clean Up

It sounds like I am picking on Joey because he likes to clean, but the fact is, I respect a kid who loves the vacuum almost as much as he loves mashed potatoes.


Bonfire 2010

We went to the "banfire" last night. Because OF COURSE WE DID. What self-respecting Rover wouldn't? It's the night before the Turkey Day Game, people. It's a TRADITION, practically a RELIGION in my hometown.

Bonfire 2010
Say "Turkey!"

Shae already knows how to do the bonfire stroll, and she did a pretty good job of showing Joey the ropes. But as always it was very, very hot and very, very crowded, so we didn't stay long.

J & J Jr.

Just long enough. We were there long enough to know that our class's bonfires were the best ones ever. Except that my sister's bonfire (Class of '96) and my husband's bonfire (Class of '93) had NOTHING on the bonfire thrown by my class. Yo, I'ma let them finish, but the EAHS Class of 1992 had the best bonfire of all time.



Whatever you're doing today, be good, be safe, and be careful. xoxo.


Please Touch Museum

My Thanksgiving vacation started yesterday, so we celebrated by spending some quality time with the kids (my daughter and my nephew) at the Please Touch Museum.

Please Touch Sign

I'd never been there before, even though I've been to Philadelphia a hundred times before. It's really, really awesome at the PTM -- everything is designed specifically for little kids, and everything is interactive in some way. You can pretend to drive a SEPTA bus, you can sit in a kid-sized monorail, you can be a race car driver.

Race Car

You can explore space and fire foam rockets and paint and splash in a big water thing and play cloud hopscotch and learn about Van der Graaff generators.

Van der Graaff Generator

You can pretend to go grocery shopping in a tiny little supermarket and identify different kinds of fruits and vegetables and fill your grocery cart with all the stuff that Mommy doesn't buy any more because she's on a diet, like frozen meatball sandwiches and both chocolate AND strawberry syrup.


You can dress up all kinds of different costumes and pretend to be anything you want, like a construction worker or a baker or an astronaut or the head of the Department of Orthopaedics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

AstronautHouse MD

If you really wanted to, you could spend all day long in an "Alice in Wonderland" exhibit, where you can put on that iconic blue-and-white pinafore and wander through a hedge maze and kiss a fiberglass dodo and instantly become a giant and investigate optical illusions and have a tea party with the March Hare.

Tea Party

And you will know you had a most excellent time when you sleep until after 8:00 the next morning, and then wake up ready to take on the world again.


Big Reveal

So ... here's my new haircut.

I had a good 8-10 inches hacked off, and lowlights added. Those bright streaks, where a normal person would have highlights? That's my hair's "natural" color. I went darker -- part auburn, and part light bronzy-brown. If my hair stylist is correct (and I have no reason to doubt her), the red will fade to about 1-1½ shades darker than the bronze she added. I really, really love the color.

Not sure about the cut yet. I mean, I am not unhappy with the length (just brushing my shoulders) and the layers, but to get my ends to curl under like that, she blew it all out and did fancy things with a blow dryer and a round brush, and I'll never be able to replicate that. I am criminally hairdo-deficient. For the last two days I just let my hair air-dry and do whatever it will, and it does this little flippy thing at the ends. It's not awful -- it's kind of cute, actually -- but it isn't the same.

Here is the great thing about having a good hair stylist, though: she knows that I like to put exactly zero effort into my hair -- because, HELLO, I have a wild-headed three-year-old to attend to in the mornings! -- and she gave me a cut that is intentionally low-maintenance. It's too short for my standard ponytail, but I can pull the front up and fasten it with one of Shae's hairclips, and it's still totally fine. And the color is so shiny! Even some of the guys at work complimented me.

I also got my eyebrows waxed, which you can't tell from the picture, but that is maybe the biggest single improvement, for serious. Brooke Shields can pull off a full natural brow, but not me. I just got everything shaped up and less American-werewolf-in-London-y, and it is lovely. My eyes are my favorite feature, and now you can actually see them, instead of trying to find them under the caterpillars that live on my forehead.

There you go. The new me (which is basically only the new me, except partially red-headed). Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Now if only I could find pants that fit.


The Dude

For the next couple of days, I will be in my Happy Place. Well, not under the dryer at the salon, getting my hair done -- my Other Happy Place. With my daughter and my nephew (and all those other crazy people we are related to). But mostly with my daughter and my nephew. They're the important ones.


I'm glad they're in town this week -- Thanksgiving isn't the same when your whole family isn't together. And we're planning on a LOT of togetherness, starting tomorrow, when we take a day trip into the Great Big City filled with all the Dinky-Doos.

There will be shenanigans afoot, believe me. SHENANIGANS! And it's going to be AWESOME.


Carpe-ing the Diem

We did some housework and yard work today, because we have a full and busy week coming up and we aren't going to have much time to get this stuff done. I volunteered to rake the leaves in the front yard, in part because it isn't a very daunting task, since we have this grotty little tiny yard that I believe is the smallest in captivity.

Grotty Yard

Seriously, I'm pretty sure my cubicle at work is bigger than that. Also, I knew I would have help.


Because if there is an outdoor activity, my kid will volunteer for it. She thinks weeding is FUN. I can't wait 'til she's old enough to be able to actually identify what is a weed vs. what is a plant, because I hate weeding. Not as much as I hate dishes and laundry, but still.

Oh, and I had an ulterior motive for wanting to rake: valuable photo opportunities.

The Pile

It was a perfectly-sized leaf pile for one small person, and Shae didn't let me down.


Of course, now you can hardly tell that we ever raked the front yard, even after we collected a full garbage of leaves. Funny how a kid jumping in a leaf pile for ten minutes can actually make a bigger mess than the leaves just falling off the trees for three weeks.

Million Dollar Smile

But we had a great time, so it was worth it.


Music Soothes The Savage Beast

I made myself a "Thanksgiving" iTunes playlist that we've -- Shae and I, mostly, but sometimes G too -- have been listening to in the car. The "air quotes" are intentional because not all these songs make a hell of a lot of sense, in terms of being actual holiday songs, but then again, there are not a whole lot of actual Thanksgiving songs anyway. You would think a celebration of early American communism would inspire some sort of hymn or carol or something. Perhaps a Soviet-sounding sea shanty. Something.

While I'm out getting my hair cut, I thought I'd share my playlist with you. Here is (about 60% of) the official "rockle-riffic thanksgiving playlist." Notes are after the link:

As you might have suspected, a bunch of these are mostly songs that contain the words "Thank You" or some variation thereof in the title. I mean, really, "How 'bout getting off of these antibiotics?" is not the sort of lyric that might inspire overwhelming outpourings of emotion and gratitude. But then again, I am currently taking antibiotics for the Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Plague, and I have to say that getting off these antibiotics is something to be thankful for. Biaxin will seriously mess up your digestive tract if you don't take it according to the pharmacist's directions. Yogurt, people. Trust me on this one.

Every one of these songs makes me thing about something specific that I am thankful for. Maybe they'll mean something to you, too; then again, maybe they won't. If you have songs that really make you think about Thanksgiving and what you are thankful for, let me know, because I am always up for expanding my MP3 collection.

Some of the best songs on the playlist got left off this iMix, though -- I can't really explain why iTunes didn't include them, but whatever. Here are the other 40% or so of the titles:

  • "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" by Al Green & Annie Lennox
  • "In My Life" by The Beatles (and I totally know that the Beatles are on iTunes now, so I don't WTF the deal is here, but WHATEVER, uppity hipster Apple people!)
  • "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley
  • "Who Says You Can't Go Home?" (duet version) by Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland
  • "Lovesong" by The Cure (I am thankful for Robert Smith and black kohl eye pencils, full stop)
  • "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper
  • "Sweet Potato Pie" by James Taylor & Ray Charles
  • "Bare Necessities" from The Jungle Book
  • "My Life Would Suck Without You" by Kelly Clarkson
  • "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" by Marvin Gaye
  • "His Eye is On the Sparrow" by Marvin Gaye (shut up, I like gospel music sometimes)
  • "You Are My Sunshine" by Ray Charles
  • "Thank You (for Lettin' Me Be Mice Elf)" by Sly & the Family Stone

Not that you asked, right now Shae's favorite song on this whole list is "Everybody Eats When They Come to My House" and my favorite is "Sweet Potato Pie" which is especially strange because I don't even LIKE sweet potato pie. But James Taylor and Ray Charles sound surprisingly awesome together, so I recommend that you check out that song.


What Am I About To Do?

In 12 hours and 50 minutes, I will be chopping off my hair. Well, not all of it, and I won't be cutting it. But I am having my hair cut tomorrow morning, and getting it colored, and I am TERRIFIED.

Every time I get a haircut, I hate it. HATE. Violently hate. And the last time I changed my hair color, I might have kind of gone a little berserk and maybe cried myself to sleep for a week.

But here I go again. Right now my hair goes down to the middle of my back and is a sort of shade that is somewhere on the blonde continuum, with a bunch of random leftover highlights from spending the summer at the pool. The last time I paid someone to color my hair, it was last July, and I do mean LAST July, like 2009 July, just before my sister's wedding. I have had trims since then, but no new style, and my roots are past my ears at this point.

I have some ideas about what haircut I want, and I think I know what I want to do with the color -- a bob, and lowlights in some kind of amber-copper-auburn-red -- but we'll see what I actually decide. If I even go through with it, which is potentially doubtful at this point. If I do what I am thinking about doing, I'm going to be getting about a foot of hair lopped off. I am psyching myself right out, even though I trust my hairdresser and know she would never steer me wrong.

Wish me luck. And Valium. And be prepared to hold me if this all goes terribly, terribly wrong.


A Very, Very, Very Fine House

I had a doctor's appointment today, because I caught my annual pre-Thanksgiving plague, and it isn't getting any better. I still go to see the same doctor that I have seen since I was about 12 years old, the office where I used to work in the billing office, with my grandmother and my grandfather and my mother as my bosses. Good times, those.

I took a half-sick day off work and went to my parents' house to have lunch before my office visit. As it turns out, my father was meeting my mother for lunch, so when I got there, I was the only person in the house. That is the first time that happened in at least five years, and possibly ten. Because there is always someone at my parents' house -- it's like Grand Central Station up in there.

In the spring and summer, my mother's garden is THE place to be, but the inside of the house is greatly underappreciated. I love my parents' house, not just because I lived there for so long and still spend so much time there, but because there are so many things in the house that say "Home" to me. Totally weird and random things.

Like this bowl. This bowl is my very favorite bowl in all the lands and the skies. Don't ask me why, because I'll be damned if I know. But it's always a special treat to me when I can eat out of this bowl, which I did today. Chunky Sirloin Burger soup will never taste as good as it does out of this bowl.

I love this grandfather clock, which we have had for about a hundred years. Well, okay, like 35 years, but still -- I always remember it being in my parents' house, so it might as well be generations old. It hasn't worked right since before I got married, I don't think. But when my sisters and I were little girls, it used to play a tune, and when my father would tuck us in at night, we used to sing the song together, and take turns being kissed goodnight on the long "BOOOOOING!"

This tatty old Monet poster is probably 20 years old. I got it when I was in high school, on the day I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and saw my very favorite painting for the first time. This poster has been in three bedrooms in my parents' house, plus four different college dorm rooms. Lucky for me that my mother and I have the same favorite color palettes, and this poster still matches the walls in the room that is now the "guest nursery." (Ironically, the poster is NOT a print of "A Bend in the Epte" -- the PMA did not have any copies of that poster left when I was there back in 1990.)

No idea where this weathervane came from, or why my mother has it, but her house generally has a vaguely-nautical-slash-beach-cottage decor, and this thing fits right in. This is in the guest bedroom, and sometimes when I'm sleeping over I will watch it reflect streetlights and headlights and taillights and the occasional tealight, and it helps me sleep.

If I recall correctly, my mom got this dresser either from "salvage" (i.e., she knew someone was getting rid of it and she picked it up and brought it home) or from a yard sale. Either way, she got it for next to nothing. It matches EXACTLY ZERO other pieces of furniture in my house -- my decorating style is more a cross between kind of colonial and a little bit Scandinavian and sort of hand-me-down -- but I call dibs on this wardrobe anyway.

On almost every available surface in the house, there are pictures. Tons and tons of pictures, of everybody and everything and every occasion, some of them literally decades old. Just in this one corner on my mom's living room, there are pictures of (clockwise, starting at top left) my wedding from 1999, my parents' wedding from 1973, me and my sisters from approximately 1987, my father's parents and their kids from around 1955 when my dad was still the youngest (there are only five kids in that picture, so my grandmother would go on to have EIGHT MORE children), a picture of my father and his brothers from my aunt's wedding in 2000 or 2001, and a picture of my mother and her siblings with my grandparents from I don't even know what year. Stuff like this is EVERYWHERE. My mother has my great-grandmother's elementary school graduation diploma on the walls. It's AWESOME.

And, OF COURSE, she still has roses blooming, because she and her dirt are made of magic.