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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The 10,000 Step Program

All I wanted for Christmas was a pedometer. . . yes, a little doo-dad that clips to my waistband and records all the steps I've walked in a day.

I'm not normally a gadget-y type of person, but, I thought it'd be interesting to see how close I get to the 10,000 "recommended steps" a day.

I am failing miserably:

Day One: 3,602
Day Two: 3,755
Day Three: 1,011
Day Four (today): 2,189 (so far)

OK, first: what the hell happened on Day Three? Second, did you do the math and see that it takes me four days to get to my "10,000 recommended steps a day"?

I thought that a pedometer would be validating---it would show me that all those flights of stairs I climb every day, all that running after the kids, all the cleaning, cooking, laundry, errand running. . .all these things were adding up to a healthier me. Instead, I see that I am a long way from my goal.

So, if you see me, and I'm pacing back and forth like a stressed-out tiger, please understand that I'm just racking up the miles. . .er, steps.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday: Counting on Change

Chances are you have it: a bucket, container, shoe box or dish where you throw change found in your pockets at the end of the day. We have two: "his" and "hers". I've been collecting change in mine for a couple of years and had filled a half-gallon size jar.

I know some people who have very specific plans for these change jars. The money is being used for a family trip, or to buy a piece of furniture, or for the kids' college funds. However, I had no plans for this change. It was just 'fun money'.

But, as I brought the jar downstairs and started to divide the coins into piles of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies, I had a thought. Turning to my little helpers (Belly and Jilly), I told them they could decide how to spend a third of the money. However, instead of spending their portion on themselves, the money had to go to helping someone else. We would each get one-third of the total coins rolled.

Belly, in full American Girl Doll mode, said she wanted to help a place like the one that helped Kit's father. The story of Kit is set during the Great Depression when her father had to visit a soup kitchen. We decided that Boston's Pine Street Inn was pretty close, so we will be sending them a check (and since Fairly Odd Father's company has a matching gift program, we can double our donation).

Jilly had to think about where to send her portion but decided she wanted to help animals. We will send her donation to our nearby MSPCA which has a nice new cat room to showcase the older cats.

The number of charities I would like to help is endless. However, I was touched after reading this post about the number of schools and libraries that lost all their books to Hurricane Katrina. Books, to me, are one of the most important things a child should have, and therefore, I will be purchasing some items from this wish list.

If you have a jar of coins with no plans attached to them, consider donating them to a cause that speaks to you. Chances are someone else will see your quarters, nickels and dimes not as change, but as gold.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

When Regifting is Acceptable

The stockings are no longer hung by the chimney with care (they are crumpled on the floor with little gifts strew about them), and St. Nicholas is long gone, but I'm in a giving mood.

A little while ago, the ever-so-thoughtful and kind Robin gave me this award:

I now want to regift this award to some people and have decided to select the ten people who made a comment to my last post. This post was about my dad's death which is never a fun topic; it also comes at a time of the year when most of us are in full "chicken-with-heads-cut-off" mode; the fact that you not only took the time to read my post, but to also comment, is so very appreciated.

So, Another Mom Creation, Tree, Robin (I can give this to you, right?), Summer, Mary Alice, Mrs. Chicky, Oh, The Joys, Shannon, Blog Antagonist and Mrs. Q (get a blog already, won't you?): thank you all for your kind words, your support and your virtual hugs. I cannot adequately express how much they meant to me, so let me just pass on the shiny pink "I'm Fabulous Award" for you to proudly show off for all to see.

OK, off to eat more Christmas cookies and little chocolate balls. I'll even raise my glass of eggnog to toast you all.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Slipped Away

Three years ago today, I was woken by my a phone call from my mother.

"Daddy had a tough night. I'm going to see him this morning; you should come when you can."

I told her I'd be there as soon as I could. I picked up my three-month-old son from the spot in bed next to me, and carried him downstairs to wait.

The details of this morning have been muddied by time. Were both girls home, or had they gone with Fairly Odd Father to the airport? He was picking up his parents and his brother who were arriving to spend Christmas with us. Despite my dad's illness, we were excited to have them visit, knowing that their presence would liven up our home.

Our home had been sad because my dad was dying of colon cancer. For six months, he had been hospitalized, and all hope of him returning home had been abandoned. He had lived through a few milestones: the Red Sox finally won a World Series; he had met his first grandson; he knew that my younger sister was pregnant with her first child (as I reread this, I realize that the Red Sox should probably have been listed third. . .).

My in laws loved my dad, even though they'd only seen him in person a few times. They were happy that they'd be able to wish him a Merry Christmas and spend a few moments with him while they were up north.

The minivan filled with family returning from the airport. We all hugged, and I passed around the newest Fairly Odd Family member, little man D. I showed them to the guest room, and walked them through the recently completed renovation of our master bedroom and bathroom.

At around 9:30am, I strapped D into his car seat, kissed my family goodbye and was about to drive to the rehab center where my father was waiting. As I went to sit behind the passenger wheel, my husband entered the garage and walked up to me.

"Your sister just called. Your dad just died a few minutes ago."

And, so, that was that. I never did get a chance to say goodbye, to watch his last breaths or to hold his hand as he slipped away. This plain fact hurt a lot right then.

Now, three years later, I think about my dad just about every day. I tell my kids stories about him, show them photos and sing his favorite songs. I even let them listen to those godawful Christmas songs by that over-the-top, maybe-not-even Russian group because he would've loved to hear that playing loudly throughout the house.

His life was about so much more than his last minutes. Yes, I would've liked to have been there. But, in a way, it has made me realize that rarely do we have a chance to say goodbye to the people we love before they, or we, die. Regardless of how much I try to organize, plan and create the life I want, the biggest part of it, the life part of it, is really not in my control at all.

(for photos and to read more about my dad---or "Daddy", as I called him--- please see last year's dedication).

(also, I will never stop telling people about the importance of getting a colonoscopy, especially if you have a family history. I've already had one, and you can read about it here and here).

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

C is for Cookie, Christmas and Calories

We just made our new favorite Christmas cookies after reading about them here. Typically, I bake cut-out cookies, and then the kids frost and decorate them. This is cute, but the cookies end up being so s-w-e-e-e-e-e-t. The frosting sends them right over the edge into sugar overload.

In this case, the kids got to paint their cookies before they were baked (we used new Crayola paint brushes, but next year, I'll spring for some expensive brand since the Crayola's tended to drop bristles onto my cookies! Grrrrrr. . .).

The kids loved painting their food. Here is Jilly, hard at work:

And here is Belly, with her culinary masterpieces.

Check out this cute little guy. He has no idea I'm about to bite off his head.

After the cookies were baked and cooled, we decorated them with little dots and lines of sugary icing. I think next year we'll have to make a quadruple batch since these were completely gone within three days. I think they should be called "Gone Before Christmas Cookies".

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Ultimate: Best Pizza Evah

Check me out here today. Unless you should be finishing your Christmas shopping. . .

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas is Cancelled

Sorry, Kids. Looks like Santa may be doing some hard time.

(many thanks to Fairly Odd Father's cousin for helping to keep the 'riffraff' off the streets this holiday!)


Thursday, December 13, 2007

What's the Name of the Game?

Yesterday, I taught a bunch of kids how to play a drinking game.

This wasn't my intention (of course), nor did they KNOW they were playing a drinking game, but still. . . at some point in their later years, they may bump into this game again and think, "HEY, I remember playing this. . .when I was SEVEN!".

What happened was that I had taken my kids to our weekly homeschool co-op. As the name 'co-op' implies, all us parents are involved in deciding what topics we teach and are the actual teachers. We take turns running each four-week session, which is held in an available church with classrooms and a big gym.

One of the moms had decided to teach American Sign Language for this session, and was using the book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?" to teach the signs for colors and animals. She was going to be absent this week, and asked me to take over the class. I agreed, although I know about as much sign language as. . . well, let's just say there is a four-year old in our group that can kick my butt (in sign, of course).

It was not a problem to fill up a thirty-minute class for the younger kids. But, the older kids are so smart, so quick to catch on, I sensed that I would need to do something to catch their attention.

Enter, Thumper.

Do any of you remember Thumper? It is a pretty innocent drinking game (that I haven't played in YEARS, I'll have you know), where each person makes a gesture, or sign, to represent themselves. Once everyone has decided on a gesture, the group begins to drum on the table all together. The first person makes their gesture and then another person's, that person makes their gesture and then someone else's. This keeps going, getting faster and faster, until someone forgets their own sign or cannot think of anyone else's. The person who screws up has to take a drink.

Well, take away the alcohol, and this is what we did. Each person was a different animal sign (I was 'bear', which looks like I'm giving myself a big hug with my clawed hands). The kids started off slowly at first but then understood what makes this funny: two people got into an endless circle of targeting just each other, back and forth, back and forth. Cat + Bird; Bird+ Cat; Cat + Bird; Bird+ Cat, and on and on. I don't think that any of us will ever forget the signs for the animals we were: bird, cat, bear, monkey, horse, cow, dog, lion.

I also find it interesting that in this group of six-to-ten year olds, not one child made a mistake.

Which leads me to this conclusion: drinking alcohol makes you less competent than a six-year old.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"I No Like Santa!"

Sing along with me:

One of these kids is not like the others,
One of these kids just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which kid is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Hey, for the first year in three, I haven't had to hold him in my lap! Progress!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Eat, Poppa, eat

First it was the "ho, ho, ho-ing".

Now it is his "bowlful of jelly". ABC News is asking, "Is Santa setting a bad example?"

There is even a movement to keep our Santa's portly:

Look, I realize that, historically, Santa has been thinner. But on whose lap would you rather sit?

I like my showers hot, my coffee strong and my Santas fat. So, Eat, Poppa, eat, indeed!


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mistletoe is for Sissies

I am chatting about grownup stuff over here today.

And, you still have until midnight to enter the contest on the 'new and improved' New England Mamas site! Hope you win something!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Red, Red Wine

I am positively giddy for tomorrow night.

We have been invited to a "wine tasting" party within walking distance of our home, which means: no need for a designated driver! Also, my mom has offered to stay over at our house, which means: no babysitter charging $10 an hour!

Sadly, I have become a wimp at drinking. One-half a glass of wine, and I feel tipsy. Two glasses of wine, and I had better be wearing flat shoes. Anything more than that, and I will be seriously hurting Saturday morning.

And Saturday afternoon.

And Saturday night.

I think wistfully of my college days when a hangover would last a couple of hours. Now, it could be days before I feel better.

But, before I partake in an evening of wassailing, I will leave you with the image from my youth. The year was 1994, and the cute little brunette by my side is my sister. We have just returned from a night out-and-about in the city of Boston, and are crashing for the night at the (God-knows-what-has-been-on-this-couch) apartment of a few guy friends.

I wonder how those tights would play in the suburbs?

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Oh What a Night. . .

(you can find this on a t-shirt here)

A long, long time ago, Mary Alice tagged me for a meme about my most memorable nights. This tag happened so long ago, I can no longer find Mary Alice's original post to see what the heck I am supposed to do. But, I am not a slacker! Procrastinator? Yeah, but no slacker!

So here goes: Fairly Odd Mother's Most Memorable Nights, Part I:
The Year: early 80's

The Age: 16ish

I was young and ridiculous. So with three other young and ridiculous friends, we decided to really act up and STAY OUT ALL NIGHT LONG! Woo hoo! We were twits.
My accomplices were as follows: 1) a dear childhood friend who was flirting with the wilder side of high school life; 2) a sweet and innocent friend who always told her mom the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; 3) our "new" friend who had a tough older sister (the kind that smoked, swore and got into lots of fights); this new friend also had an older boyfriend---about 35 (gag!), who owned a nightclub in the nearby city.

We were four women on a mission----kind of like 'Sex and the City' without the sex, or 'Desperate Housewives' without the hot housewives.
Upon arriving at the club, we ran up to the bar where I committed a major sin of underage drinking.
Bartender: "What can I get you?"

Me: "A beer." (phew, I did it!!!!)

Bartender: "What kind?"

Me: (what kind?!?!? trick question!!!) "Oh (trying to be nonchalant), just a beer--any kind."

I'm pretty sure he poured me a glass of urine.

My girlfriends were so much more sophisticated, as they ordered Sloe Gin Fizzes, the drink only consumed by girls under the age of 18. They should just handcuff anyone who orders this drink because you cannot possibly be 21 and ordering this stuff.

I don't recall much about the bar itself other than the noise of the music and the feeling of being w-a-y out of my league. I was not a 'hip' 16 year old who had seen the world. I was wide-eyed and dazzled and confused.

Our friend with the much older (cough---molester---cough) boyfriend disappeared into the back of the bar for quite a while.
When we finally left the bar, it was late, but not late enough. Since we had all told our parents we were sleeping at someone else's house, we now had to stay out all. . .night. . .long. This sounds so much more fun at 7pm than at 2am.

We first went to an all-night diner for pancakes and eggs. Then, we drove around for a while until we were tired and cranky. That was when we pulled into the back of an apartment complex, lowered the seat backs and covered ourselves with some blankets from the trunk of the car---it was winter, and it was cold (what were we thinking??)---and went to sleep. . .until 6am, when the sun woke us, and we made our way to McDonald's until it was late enough to head home.

Did we ever get caught lying to our parents? Well, the 'new' friend's sister found out about her sister's way-too-old boyfriend and threatened each of us with bodily harm if we ever helped arrange another rendezvous (hey, I went for the beer!). Then, my sweet-and-innocent friend broke down and told her mother everything.
But, me? I never confessed to my parents. But, I did learn how to order a beer in a bar, and never again slept all night in a car.
And, now, as a parent, I know to ALWAYS call the house where my children are supposedly sleeping, just to check.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Leave! (but please come back)

Wanna win something? Check out this contest on the new/improved, bigger/better, tastes great/less filling New England Mamas website.

Along with some region-specific chatter, you'll find humor, parenting advice, musings and maybe even some s-e-x from time to time. So, go! Check it out! And may some of my beloved readers win, win, win!