The case of the missing grill.

The Lego dump truck was almost complete, when, alas, we discovered one of the grill pieces had gone missing.
Exhibit A:

As everyone knows, a dump truck with half a grill is almost worse than no dump truck at all.

Eliot quickly determined that we should call and report this mystery to the police:
"I'll be the police guy, Mom. You make the report."

Eliot: "Okay. Now where were you last playing with the truck?"

Me: "Ummm...let's see...I think...I had it right down there on the floor, but I don't see it anywhere down there."

Eliot: "Uh-oh, this is bad. I better call in the fire trucks. And do we have any gum because police guys always have gum."

Me: "So we're going to launch a massive search for the grill piece?"

Eliot: "Yes. And can you call Plablo from the Yardigans and tell him to come and call the airport guys?"

Me: "Dude, if I do that, this place will be crawling with authorities."

Eliot: "That's right, baby. We gotta find that piece."


This kid cracks me up. Seriously, I could not make this stuff up.
I'm looking forward to another year of hijinks and wild imagination. :)


Lists upon lists.

I love making lists. I rarely end up checking everything off of a list. In fact, I can go to Walmart with a list in hand and still manage to come home without items that were on the list. More often, I pull into the parking lot only to realize I have left my list at home.

But I still enjoy lists.

This is the time of year for putting together 2011's uberlist. In order not to lose it, I'm giving listography.com a go. While I'm at it, I thought I'd keep track of films I see and books I read in 2011. Just for fun.

I'm sure I'll think of more and more lists as the year progresses.

You can follow me at http://www.listography.com/stop_drop_roll
and/or keep track of your very own lists there.

See you in the New Year...



I still have days where I'm completely convinced that I'm going to accomplish something grand.

Today will be the day that I finish all these little projects that I have started and am in the middle of. December Daily album: no sweat. Embroidered gifts that I didn't finish in time for Christmas: today's the day! Organize and clean: watch out, duplex, you're not going to know what hit you! I generally have all these illusions of grandeur while I'm lying in bed the night before, my brain humming with the excitement of potential productivity.

Nevermind what history tells us! Nevermind that I have had lofty intentions for almost every single day of the year, and yet have managed not to follow a single project through to completion. Seriously, I can't even commit to washing an entire sink full of dishes before I get bored or distracted and leave off to wander about, wasting time away on piddly, nonessential tasks. Or, I've been known to collapse onto the couch and fall asleep, no matter what time of day it is. 9:30 in the morning? Oh, I'm so sleepy! 11:00? I'll just rest here a moment before lunch. And then suddenly lunch is supper and supper is bedtime and I have done absolutely nothing all day long. I am excellent at doing nothing. I excel at wasting time. It's a talent.

Anyway, to make myself feel better about not having accomplished a single thing today, here is a glimpse of a few projects I'm currently (not) working on:

December Daily album cover
(kit from belladrummer)

Day 1 (postcard from belle and boo)

more Day 1

Day 2

more Day 2

Day 4

Day 6

 I'm only up to Day 10 so far on my December album. I swear I'm going to finish it before December ends. Maybe. It could happen.

Here is something that is finished:

fun cross stitch (pattern by andwabisabi)
I know what you're thinking: "My, you certainly have one of the loveliest left thumbs I've ever seen."
Thank you.

I also finished a Christmas gift for Steven. And yes, those are Nerf gun bullets in the dish beside the Godzilla cross stitch. That's a sentence that may never before have been constructed in the entire history of the English language.
pattern by bombastitch

Here is one of my uncompleted stitching projects. I'm embroidering this princess and the pea onto a tote bag for my niece. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift. Oops.
pattern by kloin

And here is one of the reasons I haven't been able to finish any of my ongoing projects lately:

Everytime I try to sit and work on something, this knucklehead climbs up onto my neck and demands a ride. Here he's saying, "Look, Mom! I'm making horns!" I knew it! Devil child!

Nah. Actually, he's pretty amazing. I can't complain. He's my best unfinished work, after all.


Eliot, here and now.

I delight in hearing my son use new words, grown-up words like "exhaust" and "privacy." He's such a curious little fellow. Every time he hears me say something that he doesn't understand, he asks what I mean. He's always listening and always asking questions. Often I hear him use words that I don't remember teaching him, words that he must have learned through context or repetition. Those are sometimes the funniest moments, when he pipes up with something completely unexpected.

"Mom," he'll say, with a big sigh, "This is terrible. I can't find my cement mixer."


"Yuck. Something smells. I think it's that truck's exhaust."

"I have to pee, and I'm going to need some privacy."

building a "cave"

watching Blue's Clues and trying to pretend he doesn't see Mommy taking a picture

 He has also decided recently that in addition to being a farmer when he grows up, he's going to be a "police guy." He's threatened to jail Steven and I for such infractions as winning too many games of Spiderman Uno in a row. This evening, when a stranger commented on his dancing in the coffee shop, he whispered to me, "Mom, when I get bigger, I'm putting her in jail."

enthralled with Little Big Planet on the PS3
At the present moment, we're also very concerned about Santa and his lists. I may have threatened him a time or two with the possibility of receiving nothing but reindeer poop in his stocking, and so now he's convinced that Santa is watching his every move and keeping score. A few days ago, he said, "Mommy, you're beautiful!" I smiled and said, "Thanks, sweetie. That's such a nice thing to say." And with a sly grin, he replied, "I know. Do you think Santa heard me?" When he picked a piece of dropped cereal off the kitchen floor and threw it away (after being asked by Steven to do so), he rubbed his hands together and said, "Well, now I'm definitely on the nice list!"
stirring his "coffee" (water) just like Mommy does

Here in the midst of the seasonal chaos, the first emotional year of being divorced and feeling like I'm playing tug of war with my ex, using Eliot as the rope, I'm just trying to focus as often as possible on the daily miracle of having this wonderful little boy in my life. As difficult as it can be at times, every moment spent with Eliot is worth it. Every new word he utters, every new game that captivates him, all the rascal-y-ness he brings into my life...I know I'm a better, stronger person for being this munchkin's momma. Definitely. Indubitably. Without a doubt.


My son is every bit as weird as his mother.

Mommy: "What do you want for breakfast, Boo?"
Eliot: "Ummm...I'll have lemonade and a salad."
Mommy: "?!"


Because everyone likes free stuff.

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?
For us this year, I hope that we can just get through the holidays without too much drama. I hope Eliot and Steven and I can celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with joy, regardless of which actual days and times we get to spend together.
2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?
When I was young my sisters and I would wake up early and bug Mom and Dad to get out of bed until they relented and let us open our stockings. Then it was breakfast, and then opening gifts from the family. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to build new traditions with my new little family.
3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?
I would definitely be asking for a new laptop, since my old one succumbed to a nasty virus months ago. :( 
4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
I like to take Eliot around to see holiday light displays, read Christmas story books with him, and make crafty ornaments and other decorations together.
5. What games did you play with your family growing up?
I don't know about games necessarily, but Mom always created an advent calendar for us girls. If we completed the activity listed on the calendar for that day, we'd get to eat the piece of candy attached to that day. 
6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?
I do gifts and stockings the same way my parents always did them for us. I like hearing Eliot's stories about what he remembers from last year--making a gingerbread house was high on his list of exciting Christmas activities, so that is one we'll try to carry on.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?
I would stay right here at home. One year I went to Florida with two of my sisters and their families over Christmas and I think we all missed home so much. It just wasn't Christmas without the sights and sounds and smells of home.
8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? 
The Wii would definitely be top on our Christmas list this year; I've thought about getting one for Eliot a million times before and always decide that we can't afford it.
And with the Wii console, of course we'd have to get some great games and accessories, like the Wii Fit for Mommy, perhaps something like Just Dance Kids for the little man to enjoy, and possibly even a little something for Steven...like...Spiderman for PS3?

In any case, I'm sure we'd have no problem finding games for all of us...we like to get goofy and have fun, and we're all three competitive when it comes to gaming. :)

Merry Christmas season, everyone!


Angry birds.

I have been playing Angry Birds on my phone. It's this game where, essentially, the player uses a slingshot to fling birds at these sinister green pigs who have stolen the birds' eggs. According to the creators of the app, players are to "use the unique destructive powers of the Angry Birds to lay waste to the pigs’ fortified castles." Destroying all of the pigs on the screen by either smacking your birds directly into them or collapsing structures upon them allows you to advance to the next level. The Angry Birds, supposedly motivated by the loss of their eggs, are kamikazes. They explode upon impact with the pigs, the stone or wooden structures, or, if your aim is too far off, with the ground.

If I play with the sound on, I can hear the birds shrieking as they fly towards their targets and the pigs snorting and laughing when they're lucky enough to survive a shot. It's all honestly kind of deranged. So, basically, if I'm a bird, I'm hurling myself wildly at those who have wronged me, hoping to take them down in an explosion of my own feathers. But I'm not exactly the bird...I'm the force and aim behind the slingshot. Rovio, makers of Angry Birds, claims "Each of the 120 levels requires logic, skill, and brute force to crush the enemy." Their description makes me want to utter that guttural noise popularized by Tim Taylor on the 90's sit-com "Home Improvement." Arr, arr, arr!

Do I really have to explain the metaphor to you here? Probably not, right? Angry birds lash out and destroy both themselves and their enemies in pursuit of retribution. They don't negotiate. They don't treat the green pigs the way they would have themselves be treated. They certainly don't establish a schedule of visitation rights so that the green pigs can have the eggs one weekend and the birds can get them back the next...
Nope. They just hurl themselves full speed ahead, blindly at the enemy. I'm not kidding here--the birds even squint their eyes as they're flying through the air. They look like birds on a deadly mission. Kudos to the graphic designers.

So...sometimes I want to be an Angry Bird.

Sometimes I am an Angry Bird.

Frankly, it's easier to be an Angry Bird, to narrow your eyesight so singularly until your entire focus is on one target and everything else fades into the background. You see the wooden pillar only in terms of where and with how much force you'll need to pile into it in order to get it to fall a certain direction. It's easier when you have a single purpose, a driving force, a goal which you doggedly pursue. When you clear one screen of green pigs, there's always another. And another. And another. And it's so easy to just hit "play" over and over, thinking, "One more. I just have to beat one more level. I'll be happy once I obliterate all these damn green pigs."

What you lose sight of is the fact that there are one hundred and twenty levels. Sure, you could probably beat them all if you played the game in every spare waking moment, all day, every day. And also I'd bet when you finally beat level 120, having left a digital trail of bird/pig carnage in your wake, you'll feel so...so...so...nothing. Maybe vague triumph for a split second, followed quickly by boredom, and then disappointment.

Because while you were occupied with playing the game, determined to emerge the victor, you forgot about everything else. You were so consumed by your anger towards those damn thieving green pigs that you let everything else go. And everything else kept right on going around you, without you. And when you looked up, you had no earthly idea where you were.

And so really, who's to say the green pigs didn't win after all?


What I know of sorrow.

Sometimes there's nothing that can be said. Or maybe I just don't know how to say it.


Another day, another field to spray.

It is absolutely beautiful outside today. This does not feel like November. Though it makes me happy to be able to bask in the sunshine, I'm also a bit paranoid because it doesn't feel RIGHT. Damn global warming. I keep thinking, "Sure, we're all having fun now...while the POLAR ICE CAPS ARE MELTING."

In any case, the little man and I have been playing outside all morning. Who can correctly guess the piece of machinery pictured here?

A Hot Wheels motorcycle trike, you say? Pshaw! NO! Incorrect. Clearly, this is a manure spreader. He carefully threaded a number of sticks through the holes in the back of the trike and then informed me that he had to spray the field. "Oh really?" I asked. "Yeah, Mom. This is my 'nure spreader and the poop sprays out these hoses. (gesturing to indicate the sticks). So I'll be back when I get this field done."

"I see...can I take your picture first?"
"No, Mom. No! There's no time! I have to get to work."

Not long after I took these photos, the mail carrier came by, driving close to the edge of the road to reach out and stuff mail in the boxes. Eliot silently watched him pass and then sighed, "Well, the mailman just drove through all that poop."


p.s. Does anyone know what's up with the gray edge at the bottom of my photos lately? I've switched to Picasa and it's like they're not uploading fully or something. Grrr...


It's compromise that moves us along.

Eliot does NOT enjoy having his hair washed. He's had recurring ear infections since he was a baby and has twice had tubes placed in his ears; he's also had his adnoids removed. I think part of the reason he hates hair washes is because he's afraid of getting water in his ears. I can't really say that I blame him there.

I've tried so many methods for trying to ease the torture of the hair washing. I've cajoled, pleaded, reassured, bribed and bartered, but only recently have we settled on a compromise that seems to work (the majority of the time).

Basically, the deal is, if he lets me wash and rinse his hair with minimal whining, he then gets to give me a bubble beard.

A bubble beard to match his own, that is.

I'm cool with this arrangement.


Dear, dear diary.

My house is a mess.

I haven't had pictures developed in months.

I miss Eliot, and I'm glad he's coming back home to me today.

I'm looking forward to seeing my family this afternoon.

I'm thinking about things and people I've lost.

I'm happy with what I have.

I'm going to try harder today.

I'm going to eat a bowl of cereal.


The boy girl scout.

Eliot got to attend a Daisy Scout meeting this week, tagging along with his cousin Z as an honorary scout for the evening. His total adoration of Z has been well documented here and memorialized in more photos than I can count, but I'm still touched every time I get to witness their interactions.

We drove down to visit on Tuesday afternoon and stayed until late in the evening. They played like siblings, alternately loving on each other and smacking each other around. Eliot came out of Z's bedroom at least three times that afternoon bawling that she had hit him in the head. In the first instance, I think she actually did hit him on the head. According to her matter-of-fact explanation, "Well, he wasn't sharing with Maggie, so I hit him." She delivered this line while shrugging her shoulders at me as if to say, "Hey, I did what I had to do. What's the fuss?" The second time tears erupted and I pulled him into my lap, he bellowed, "She smacked my head again," and Z yells from the bedroom, "Nooo, I DIDN'T" I asked, "Eliot, did she hit you?" and he begrudgingly admits, "No. But she just made me mad." Then the both of them ganged up on Maggie, shutting her out of the bedroom and causing her to wail. Naturally, a good time was had by all.

By the time of the scout meeting, however, they had reconciled and were BFF's once more. Elecia begins the meeting by gathering the girls (and boy) in a circle and reciting the girl scout pledge with them. (Did I mention that my sister is the Girl Scout leader? Behold, the cake she created for the troop's snack that night:

Holy overachiever! Even though she has the messiest house I've probably ever seen--and will very likely kill me for mentioning this fact in a public forum--that woman can out-domesticate me any day of the week with a toddler hanging off her hip and one hand tied behind her back. You should see what she does with cupcakes. Anyway, I digress...)

I almost cried as I watched my son put up his three little fingers as the girls were reciting the pledge. It was so adorable and sweet. A discussion about how we can make the world a better place followed, with the girls throwing out suggestions like "pick up trash" and "recycle."  hehehehehe. Cute stuff. Then the kiddos were invited to decorate cookies to celebrate the birthday of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts and Elecia's example of someone who made the world a better place.

And boy howdy, did they ever decorate. Eliot, as usual, was very diligent about his decorating.

It wasn't long before all the girls (and boy) were jacked up on sugar and going nuts.

I do not envy the parents of the child belonging to these goodies:

Hello, sugar coma! :)

By this time, I was about Girl Scout-ed out. I have a low tolerance for roomfuls of little people who aren't directly related to me. This is the text message conversation with my mother that accompanied the supervision of cookie decorating/cleanup/round up of sugared little monsters:

Me: "Somehow I got tricked into coming to Girl Scouts. These girls are wild animals and I'm pretty sure some of them have rabies."

Mom: "Just like the two of you at that age! Enjoy."

Me: "I'm scared. Hold me."

No answer. *sigh*

The entire thing was apparently a big success, since later that week while walking Eliot up the steps into his daycare provider's home, he whispered to me conspiratorially, "Hey Mom--tell S__ I went to Girl Scouts!" I said, "Okay, sure. We can tell her about it." "No! Moooooom! YOU tell her, okay?" "Yes, dear. I'll tell her."

And then I told the entire Internet.

My two favorite Daisy Scouts:


Perfect protest.

Coincidentally enough, as I have been thinking about perfectionism and paralysis this week, the very same topic has been all over the blogosphere (well, the little part of it that I inhabit, anyway). Clearly, I've been neglecting my blog reader, so I'm a bit late with this, but thought it was worth the post anyway. Thanks to Amy for linking me to this: Perfect Protest.

I love that you can see Steven's reflection in the window.

I usually find self-help books pretty hokey, but I'm looking forward to reading Brown's book, The Gifts of Imperfection. 
I'm sitting here this evening on a Saturday night, surrounded by puzzle pieces and random toys, dishes in the sink that need washing, thirty different craft projects and ideas in my little brain that I'm itching to work on, and at least a million and one student essays that need graded. And yet, I'm happy amongst the chaos. I'm lying on the couch under a quilt my grammy made for me, snuggled up with Steven as he watches Spiderman. I am doing enough. I am enough. Nothing is perfect, but all is right with the world.


I can think of a million and one reasons not to do something. Remind me to do it anyway.

I'm a thinker, and an analyst, and I tend to be hypercritical of myself. If I can't be the best at something, I don't want to do it at all. As a result, I almost never do anything.

I'm famous in my family for making ugly scenes out of moments that should be light-hearted and/or inconsequential. (Hey guys, remember that time I upset the Trivial Pursuit board at Thanksgiving, sending colorful little pie pieces flying through the air and skittering across the coffee table? All because I KNEW the right answers to EVERYONE ELSE'S questions, but not my own, and I got pissed off because I was losing? And I yelled swear words in the presence of impressionable children and stormed out, but forgot to take my purse with me? Yeah...that was fun, wasn't it. *sigh* Good times.)

If you beat me at Balderdash, or Scrabble, or even Chinese checkers, I'll respect you, but I probably won't like you very much.

In short, I'm kind of a jerk.

I can't cook if my kitchen isn't spotless. (It's never spotless, thus all the eating out.)
I can't sew if one stitch is screwed up. (At least one stitch is always screwed up.)
I can't scrapbook if I make one wrong cut. (I measure once, and cut...)
I can't write if I can't find the perfect words. (Hence the dearth of recent blog posts.)

Do you see where this is going, people? I am a perfectionist who knows she can never be perfect. I'm a master of self sabotage and a cultivator of discontent. No matter what I do or say, it will be the wrong thing. Therefore...I find myself on my day off crawling under a warm quilt, watching five episodes of Weeds back-to-back while eating three-fourths of a bag of orange creme Halloween Oreos.


And then I despise myself for all of my perceived shortcomings.

Somehow, I was under the impression that once I got help with my mood issues, sought and received medical attention for the depression I've suffered since adolescence, I would be fixed. Cured. Made better. It never occurred to me that depression is an on-going disease, one that I will battle for the rest of my life. The disease does not conveniently disappear just because I take a pill or two everyday. When I have a downturn, I get angry. I get ashamed, and I feel guilty about not feeling well. I'm supposed to be fine! I have no tangible reason not to be happy! But maybe...if my apartment were clean, I'd be happy. If I could sew without mistakes, I'd be happy. If I could finish a scrapbook page or a blog post, I'd be happy. It's not ME; it's these outward circumstances over which I have so little control...or over which I WOULD have control if I were just a smarter, more ambitious, skinnier, healthier, more attractive person.

Wrong. All wrong.

I'm not saying all of this to justify my being a jerk. I'm not blaming depression for making me act like a pain in the ass. I'm just saying that I'm a jerk to myself just as often as I'm mean to anyone else. Much, much more often, actually.

I'm mean to myself. I berate myself until I curl into a ball and achieve stasis.

In order to recover from this mode I have to allow myself to be imperfect, remind myself that imperfection is not only inevitable, but beautiful. It is what makes me who I am. If I were perfect, I'd be a Stepford wife, and truthfully, I'd much rather be fun, quirky, too-often-a-pain-in-the-ass Rachel.

I can list off in my head a million and one reasons why my feeble efforts at life are inadequate, why I shouldn't even try to cook bacon or knit a scarf, or hang a picture. And if I let myself, I will. I have an internal running commentary to remind me of the specific ways in which I fall short. But every once in a while, instead of listening to it, I tell myself to shut up. I kick my own ass, and I start hammering nails into the wall. I know my frame isn't ever going to hang straight.

Fuck it. I like it crooked anyway.


Sometimes I still get crafty.

I wanted to make Steven a Spiderman cake for his birthday, and I was about 55% sure I could pull it off, never having decorated a cake before, but having witnessed my sister create several of her own masterpieces. I borrowed a cake pan from Aunt Lecia and gave it a go...and it turned out marvelously! I must admit, I had help on this. I don't think I would have gotten through the entire process without my BFF Tracy, who was also a cake decorating virgin up to this point. We managed to pull it off quite nicely, and Steven and his friends were properly dazzled and impressed.

It was really kind of fun to make, and now I'm looking forward to making a birthday cake for Eliot next year. I guess I better be on the lookout for tractor pans!

 In other birthday craftiness, I bought a super cool book recently, Simply Sublime Gifts, thinking the comic book wallet project would be the perfect gift for Steven.

Part of the fun was working on the project together--Steven chose pages with the images he wanted and figured out how to work the folds so that the images would fall in the right places. I ironed on the vinyl and sewed the edges. It turned out to be fairly easy to make.

Now I'm all flushed with the excitement of actually completing projects! :)