Ms. Thing

Super Pooka (Taken while I held him in the air with my feet)
Imagine you had a favorite author. Imagine this author was your favorite ever since you were in middle school. Now imagine this author spending special time with you and totally loving your child!

This past weekend our awesome friends TJ and Nicole took care of Connor while Jason and I went to a sci-fi/fantasy book lovers convention in Baltimore to see Tamora Pierce. She had e-mailed me wanting to know if I would be there and wanted to see her Fairy Godchild. We had no firm plans, but still Jason let me drag him an hour north of here, buy convention admission passes and spend the night in a hotel so that we could see the awesomeness that is Tamora Pierce.

She was in the middle of a panel discussion when we walked in with the princess. Tamora immediately looked at us and made some excited face gestures, acting very happy to see us. When the panel was over she came and loved all over Alanna. She said "hi" to us and then invited us to dinner that night. I blubbered out something about being so happy that she could make time for us and that we really were not expecting it.

Alanna took a nap in the hotel room while I got to look around at all of the cool vendors there. So many cool books I was a little intimidated and overwhelmed.

I called Tamora Pierce when I knew her convention duties were over for the night but she didn't answer her cell phone. We went down to the lobby to see if we could find her and she was waiting there with her husband...too perfect!

She brought out a bag full of goodies for both Connor AND Alanna. She gave them three books, a stuffed animal each, puppet wash cloths and a one-sie with Princess Leia on it that said "Princess".

I am still awed that this prominent author took the time to shop for my kids, then haul this stuff from New York just for us.

We took them to an Irish pub themed restaurant, complete with a roaring fireplace and medieval looking weapons on the wall. I joked about how it was the perfect place to take an author who wrote about such things.

Tamora played with Alanna a lot, and Alanna (also known as the baby who cries as soon as her Grandmother or Aunt Nicole hold her)just seemed to eat her up, sometimes literally. They got along really well and Alanna did not want to let go of the monkey her Fairy Godmother had given her.

Both Tammy and her husband Tim were really nice. Jason and I had a great time, an insisted on paying for the meal. Jason got a kick out of buying a meal for such a prominent author.

The kids have been loving the gifts. Connor rams his head into the stuffed animal buffalo she gave him, and requests the "snakey book" his "Aunt Tammy" gave him. Alanna still has not let go of her stuffed monkey. I am still in awe that she shopped for my kids.

My favorite comment of the night was when we talked about how Alanna had her first taste of water that day because she kept grabbing Jason's water cup while we were watching the panel discussion. Tamora Pierce said "I saw her and thought to myself 'that's my Fairy Godchild!'" She was proud of Alanna and thought what she was doing was so cute.

Just awesome. If you have not read her books, read them. Tamora Pierce rocks!
I took the kids to Whole Foods to pick up some last minute items today. I gave Connor a sheet of sparkley, shiny butterfly stickers to keep him entertained at the checkout counter, this simple act turned out to be a chance to spread some holiday cheer.

Connor of course wanted the first sticker on his forehead, which made many people in line laugh. One older man with a bald head admired Connor's placement of the sticker, so I stuck one to his forehead before he could bat an eye. A bald dude in his 50's looks great with a pink shiny butterfly sticker on his head I must say. Then Connor gave one to another 50's-ish man, but this time on his hand. A mom with two young boys gets in line behind me and Connor and I give each of them a sticker.

Connor insists that Alanna and I each need a sticker on our cheeks, so we are styling now. Then a lady in her 40's joins the line and she gets a sticker on her hand. By this time Connor has a total of three stickers on his head in addition to all the stickers we have handed out. Everyone was laughing and smiling even though the store was packed and the shopper were getting that panicked look on their faces.
The older lady asks me if I came to the store with the other mom and two boys and I said "No". She seemed surprised because of how well we were talking and laughing with each other. I said we were just in the same club of having two small children. Every mom welcomes a diversion that will keep the kids quiet and entertained. Everyone seemed to open up and tell a funny story while we waited.

Connor handed out his last sticker to the cashier. The man bagging our groceries said I made motherhood "look easy".

Is that the coolest compliment or what?

People departed one by one waving goodbye to Connor with a smile on their faces that were not there before and wished us a happy Thanksgiving.

It's amazing what a two year-old and some stickers can do to brighten someone's day.
My bestest buddies TJ and Nicole just got their loan approved! They will be home owners tomorrow! After a hellacious ordeal, it is coming to fruition and I couldn't be happier for them! Holla!

Give them some congrats!
Oh the difference 40 extra minutes makes. The kids wake up at 7:20 each morning. I wanted to sleep in till 8:00. How dare I. The chaos that ensued was so not worth it.

Breastfeed Alanna, feed Connor a healthy breakfast complete with sliced apples and a Pooh vitamin, eat same breakfast as Connor to save time, get Ebay item ready to ship, put Alanna down for nap, change Connor, dress Connor, put warm compress on Connor's eyes, get baby bag ready, get myself dressed, make sure I have Old Navy item ready to return, get Alanna up from nap, load kids in car. See? Already I am tired, and this is with no makeup, hair in ponytail and no shower.

Go to Post Office doing the Dora The Explorer explaination with Connor "Post Office, Old Navy, see fishies at Petsmart...Post Office, Old Navy, fishies...Post Office, Old Navy, fishies ...Post Office, Old Navy, fishies ...Post Office, Old Navy, fishies ...Post Office, Old Navy, fishies ...Post Office, Old Navy, fishies".

Strap Alanna to myself with Maya Wrap, hold Connor's hand, balance package on hip, struggle with car door and Post Office door. Mail package, re-strap kids in the car.

Drive 20 minutes to Old Navy, re-strap Alanna to me, hold Connor's hand. Find out that the shirt my monther-in-law gave me is worth a whopping $3.97 because she gave me a piece of paper with a number for an Old Navy survey, not a gift receipt. Frack. Find an amazing amount of selection in the pajama section. After YEARS of not finding anything, there is too much to choose from and most of it will actually fit my extremely large post-pregnancy behind.

Connor is hiding under clothes racks, throwing balls. Alanna is starting to cry because she is hungry. I look at my watch, it is the witching hour of the day 12:30. Connor has to eat, Alanna has to eat, Connor has to nap, Alanna has to nap. All Hell is about to break loose. I look at the pajamas in my hands and credit card is in the car. I have no time to run back to the car then come in to buy them, I have to rush home to feed the kids and get them down. Connor is the least flexible kid when it comes to naps and he is already losing it. Crap, we have no time to see the fishies at Petsmart. Crap.

Oh the cruelty! That extra 40 minutes of sleep! Curse you comfy bed! Why God why?

Can't I ever get time? I had to pay for that extra sleep.

I have to tell Connor that we can't see fishies, pull a Mom manuever and blame it on him not listening to me because he gives my several opportunities, he FREAKS OUT crying, I miss my turn to go on the beltway...and I am almost out of gas. I start crying. Alanna is hungry and tired. Connor is hungry and tired, I am hungry, tired and going the wrong way in D.C. area traffic with little gas.

Damn you extra 40 minutes of sleep!

I think of my life as a SIMS character. I have to keep 3 beings fed, entertained, clean, clothed and rested all the time. This means there is no time to pick up things around the house or run errands. The little bulb over thier heads is always demanding something, my social is low, my environment is low. I am looking around my house in disgust but am so drained mentally and physically that I just look at it and want to cry.

I hear Connor NOT napping. What a surprise. I have to go put the smack down on him. Jason's pager is going off but he is too dead asleep to hear it after his 28-hour shift. If I get Connor to sleep do you think I could sneak out? I mean technically he IS here, and all 3 of them would be asleep! I could get new pajamas for myself for the first time in YEARS and be able to make it home in time to hide them in the drawer so Jason does not know how much I spent. "What this old thing?, I bought that a while ago!"

I just finished selling off a bunch of stuff on Ebay. Lots of Holiday Barbies and stuff. That is a lot of work. Keeping up with the auctions, answering questions from potential buyers, packing, shipping...sheeesh.

I made $238.00 though. What actually sold the best was a lot of 18 small Bumkins All-In-One cloth diapers that Alanna outgrew. $140 bucks baby! Try to get that much for your Pampers! The diapers were used by 2 kids and I got money back for them! Woot.

I am going to go take a nap now. Either that or clean the house...yea right. Nap!
How come we remember the bad stuff in life, but the good stuff gets lost in the ether? I am tagging all of you who read this to come up with ten happy thoughts to spread a little cheer into this world. Here are mine:

1. Connor is a constantly speaking crazy kid. Some things he said today: "thank you Momma", "Ow, ow my eye hurts, the sun hurts my eye Momma", "Connor go pee pee in the potty, Momma go pee pee in the potty?", "watch Wiggles time Momma", "Dadda come here, give kisses" "mmmm, pot pie, yummy", "give me bite, salad".

2. Alanna is a very good, very mellow, very happy baby. She brings balance to my life. She is a constant joy and has done much to heal my heart after the chaos of Connor's babyhood and medical experiences. I thought people who loved babies were so wired, after all Connor's baby time was HELL for so many reasons. I get it now. I want Alanna to stay just the way she is. I get it. Thanks Alanna.

3. My husband. He loves me for who I am. The Colleen that I present to the officer's wives, the Colleen that can get down and party, the Colleen that is still transforming into Mommyhood, the Colleen that is still a little kid inside...the brat, the Colleen that gets so drunk she turns into Paulene (she does the bad stuff I can't remember), the Colleen who is an animal rights activist. It is hard to truly love so many facets of a person, especially one a disagreeable as me. Wow, Jason rocks. He is a great Dad for the amount of time we get to see him, giving his all till he literally passes out. He is a great doctor and a great friend. I am so lucky to be in his life. Please never let me take a minute of my time with him for granted.

4. Where we are today. Eight years Jason almost gave up on his dream of being a doctor because of finances and years of school yet to go. The discussion came to a head while we were visiting his little brother at Air Force basic training in Texas. We were in front of the Alamo in San Antonio when we took a stand and decided to go for the dream. It meant sacrifice on both sides, but we had to go for it. Yea Alamo!
Today Jason is a doctor. We got through post-bachelor-pre-medical classes starting the day we came back from our honeymoon, countless admissions essays, standardized tests and interviews, four years of medical school which included being Class President and then President of the Student Government(Wow), and his INTERNSHIP(cringe). We got the residency he wanted, have two kids like we wanted, and live in a great community. We are living the dream.

5. Despite missing Florida, we missed all of those hurricanes. Thanks for looking out for us Divine Being (however you prefer to title yourself).

6. We have great friends and neighbors. They have come through for us many times now in the past year, and are showing us how to be better people. I came from a family that didn't do SQUAT for each other, yes I WAS raised by wolves. I am learning how to do things for other people and it is wonderful.

7. Even though I complain about them, we do have families that love us. Love us in their own twisted, mental home, straight jacket, stick you finger in a socket, drive you up the wall, bamboo under your nails kind of way...BUT they do love us.

8. We have never been more financially secure (translate: we can actually pay bills on time), and are on the path to even paying down our debt.

9. Christmas is around the bend and most of our shopping is DONE! Wohoo internet shopping.

10. We live in America, which for all of its flaws, still beats France.

*Bonus* 11. Oprah. I just LOOOOVE Oprah.

So when we are complaining about life, remember that with food in our bellies, a roof over our heads, and the knowledge that you are loved, you are still ahead of the game.

Tag, you're it.

This was actually put into my son's trick-or-treat bag, I just had to share it with you. He got TWO pamphlets from Billy Graham and "Harvest Seeds Scripture Candy". WTF? He only hit 3 blocks!

Do you see what kind of Bible Belt crazyness I am living in? These loonies hand out God pamphlets in trick-or-treat bags!

Granted, I have acted as a parking attendant and handed out animal rights pamphlets at the circus before. It was a brillant scheme. I told them where to park and everything...everyone going in got a "Why the Circus is No Fun for Animals" pamphlet and thought it was a circus directory or something. My internship at PETA was fun.

But this goes a bit further. Sure it got my attention, the "Harvest Seeds" were actually pretty tasty too. But handing out religious paraphanalia in Halloween bags? That is just devious.

*Mental note, must find a way to stuff "Eating Turkey is not so Yummy for Turkeys" pamphlets inside the frozen turkeys at the commissary turkey sale this year*

*Additional mental note, must hand out "The Religious Right Sucks Donkey...No Offense To Donkeys" pamphlet to trick-or-treaters next year*

I celebrated Halloween every weekend in October with a fun family activity, threw a Halloween party for Connor's playgroup, sent out Halloween cards (see picture below), made special Halloween crafts projects...the works.

November 1 comes around and I am like a booking agent making Thanksgiving plans, wheeling and dealing with family members to get what I want, making HTML Christmas wishlists form both children, buying gifts online already for some family members.

I am taking this too seriously. I am stressing over these things. But I have been a stay-at-home mom for 2 and 1/2 years so this IS my job.

Do you ever feel too driven to have the perfect holiday? Why do we get this way? I have to have everything mapped out in detail now. X + Present - Y = FUN. IS there a perfect holiday? I am getting so into decorating and crafts that I feel like I am losing myself. Who am I? Where was the cool person I used to be. I play Bunco now for Pete's sake! I read catalogs for down time. I tell the grandparents what they will get the kids and make out wishlists to send to the rest.

Going to the gym this morning was fun because I was away from the house without the kids. Imagine that? Going to the gym was fun. HA! But I ruined it by reading Parents Magazine while I was on the treadmill. I suck.

No wonder I ordered some super steamy erotic trashy novels off of Amazon last night. Man I need an escape. I am boring.

Maybe that is what being a stay-at-home mom is all about, having a really naughty side to make up for your REALLY good side. Hmmm.