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: