Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And Who Are You? The Primate Garbage Police?

Brew some tea and pull up a chair. I've got a story that'll put hair on your shmeckle.

Ahem, where to begin? Ah yes, the ice. We all (even Shiloh) survived the ice and snow. And as soon as the heaps of winter insanity melted enough to let us escape the neighborhood, the kids and I scooted to Aiken to spend the long MLK weekend with my mom (Phil being on a really awesome ski trip with his parents and siblings ... LUCKY!) Aiken is actually where Phil's parents live, but they are currently on assignment in New Mexico so we were able to use their house, saving both me and my mom 6 hours round trip. (Thank you Nannie and Papa!) It was soon discovered that everyone was in desperate need of new socks (seriously) so we headed down to the Aiken Mall for some real shopping excitement. When we happened upon the "hurricane simulator," I begged Mom to go in, as I was desperate for entertainment.

What a total let down! You're not supposed to be smiling if you're trapped in a can of hurricane, are you? Mom tried briefly to scream and look terrified when she saw my look of disappointment, but it was pretty unconvincing. I was waiting for her clothes to come flying off and swirl madly about her as she stood in the middle of the mall, beating the glass frantically to get out, crowds gathering and murmuring anxiously, 911 and news crews being called in. Instead she hopped out with a grin, combed her barely tousled hair with her fingers and said it was like sticking her head under a hand dryer in a public bathroom. Blast. At least we got Chick-Fil-A for supper.

Aunt Jessie and Cousin Anna-Kate came to play the next day, and we even got to walk to the playground for a while. Highlight of the trip!

At the last moment, I decided to just follow mom back to Johnsonville for the rest of the week. Phil had a lot of work travel, and even though mom and dad would both be working, at least I'd get to see them a little, right? And I was halfway there. And I could visit my Mema, who I rarely see. It all made sense ... in theory.

The first day there (Tuesday) Mom had a long work day (leaving at 7am and not getting back 'til 5) and Dad had to sleep all day since he was working nights at the hospital. No problem. Just keep 2 small children occupied (and quiet!) on a rainy day in half a small house ... for 10 hours.

An outing to Piggly Wiggly for yogurt and crackers and an exciting tour through Fred's variety store for some play dough was just what we needed.

Andrew was fascinated by the Play-Dough Fun Factory, and Els loved the play dough jewelery I made. They played quietly with this stuff for over an hour! And TFO took a nap! (She very rarely naps at all anymore. She's 21 months. I consider this a disorder and feel that very powerful medications should be available.)

It was decided that Wednesday we should definitely pack up and go ... somewhere. Anywhere. For the whole day. So of course, Elsbeth decides to throw up as I'm fixing her breakfast. Maybe it's a fluke. I'll go ahead and feed her lots of cereal and milk and surely she'll be fine. Cereal and milk regurgitated all over the kitchen floor. Sigh. Poor Nib. She ended up not throwing up any more the rest of the day, but she didn't feel great and we certainly couldn't go anywhere.

She slept (yea!) Andrew watched 101 Dalmatians. I entertained myself as I saw fit.

On Thursday, Elsbeth seemed to be better, so we decided to take our show on the road to visit my Mema (kids' great-grandmother) on her farm. And joy of joys, it was a pretty day! We had a blast driving around the farm on her bobcat, sun on our checks and fresh air filling our snoots.

We stopped by to visit Uncle Stephen's chickens and ducks. This photo was taken about 13 seconds before TFO stuck a tiny, white finger in the cage where it was eagerly pecked by the hungry hen you see approaching.

She screamed bloody murder and I half expected to see her finger spurting blood, barely attached to her hand. An up close inspection failed to produce even the slightest indentation, just a little chicken drool. She finally stopped crying to call a mournful, "Bock, bock, bock" at the coop before we moved on.

We decided to give the ducks in the pond a go, most of which looked and moved quite normally. But then there was this guy:

What the heck IS that thing? Whatever it was, it let us stare at it for a while before slowly rising from it's spot in the shade next to my uncle's house (sending Andrew running for the hills). Then it took about 8 minutes to waddle the 12 feet to the pond shore where it unceremoniously plopped in. Elsbeth and I were mesmerized.

We finally puttered back to the farm house, I packed the kids back in the car, and then, since the day had been going so well, I decided to became violently ill. After releasing my angry lunch into the bushes next to the car, I drove the 30 minutes back home breathing deeply at, at times, clutching an empty grocery bag, just in case. I staggered into my parents house, somehow managed to get the kids down for their rest time, and then spent the next hour in considerable intestinal distress. My mother, bless her, got home from work just as rest time was over.

I survived the rest of the afternoon, and by the time I went to bed the worst of it was over. I had been asleep for about 30 minutes when I woke up to hear Andrew thrashing and groaning from his pallet next to my bed. Oh yes. I was up most of the rest of the night with my Precious throwing up everything he'd ever eaten in his life. My thoughts at 2am: Surely tomorrow Mom will get a sub and take care of Elsbeth while Andrew and I recover. And get a sub she did ... moments before she began throwing up herself.

Poor Nina and Andrew ... they were so very sick. I think Andrew was the sickest of all of us. He just drifted in and out of sleep for the whole day, sometimes staring listlessly into the distance.

That night he desperately wanted to watch a load of wash, but he didn't even make it to the spin cycle.

So it was me and my girl, looking to amuse ourselves in the 1/4 of a little brick ranch that wasn't occupied by sleeping or desperately ill people.

We had another wild time in Piggly Wiggly searching for popsicles and Saltines, and my whole day was brightened by these signs next to the main highway that goes through town:

In the midst of the horror, I had a moment in which to call Phil. Here's an excerpt from our conversation:

Me: ... and then after I finished throwing up hot dogs, which is really the worst thing in the world to experience a second time, I had to drive 30 minutes through all kinds of road construct-

Phil: What Honey? There's some really awesome parade going by here in Disney World and I can't hear you over the fireworks.

Me: You're in DISNEY WORLD?!

Phil: Yeah. My work conference was in Orlando. They put me up in a 16-star Hotel right in the middle of Epcot. I just got my second massage. You wouldn't believe the spa they have here!

Me: Oh. Hm. I guess I forgot ... about ... that. Anyway, (speaking louder) then Andrew started throwing up in the middle of the night and then mom got sick and -

Phil: Oh no, that's a total bummer. Hey, can I call you back a bit later? I've got to tee off.

Well, I'm making this story way too long. In the end, we survived the plague and by Sunday were able to make the treck back home. But just in case you think that went smoothly, I'll have you know that Elsbeth had a horrific, abominable, explosive diarrhea diaper that got all over her clothes and I ended up having to change it in the front seat of my car in the parking lot of a super nasty McDonald's somewhere in Hickland, Georgia and it got smeared on my (only pair) of pants and on my hands and there weren't enough wipes or hand sanitizer in the world to make me feel clean again and I smelled like poop for the last 4 hours of the drive. Then I missed the exit to my house. Twice.

When Phil got home from his conference later that night, he had a little present for the kids.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why Hadn't I Got Housemaid's Knee?

Sunday, 09 January 2011, 8pm

The snowfall has begun. Giant, feathery flakes drift down from the darkened sky as Phil and I peer from a lamp lit window, smiling at each other and whispering as if to safeguard this moment of wintry magic. Soon the holly bushes, the brick walkway, the old stone stairs leading up to the arbor are all blanketed. Phil moves on to light a fire in the master bedroom while I linger at the glass, a smile playing on my lips as I imagine fawns and wood elves creeping from their hidden realms to wonder at this divine moment bestowed unto humanity.

Monday, 10 January 2011

The day dawns to 5 or 6 inches of snow draped across the whole of metro Atlanta and flurries mixed with sleet still coming down. Schools are closed, Phil will be working from home and we enjoy a leisurely family breakfast of warm oatmeal with brown sugar, milk and hot tea as we watch the birds flock to our feeders.

Phil decides to seize the moment - he has time to play in the snow before his first conference call of the day - so the house is suddenly buzzing as we rush around looking for coats and boots. Elsbeth becomes deeply distressed when, despite our most sincere efforts, we cannot locate her favorite pink hat. Finally the boys rush ahead to the back yard and I wrestle our little diva into Andrew's outgrown fleece hat and drop her into the snow.

For a handful of minutes she's mesmerized by her surrounding wonderland. Andrew laughs and runs in wild circles around the yard as I pelt him with snowballs, and Phil and I are delighted to discover that we can make real, honest-to-goodness snowmen.

Els decides to reconsider her contentment.

We play a bit longer, ignoring the light sleet pelting our faces for the joy of frolicking. Finally Phil must retreat to the quiet upstairs to work and Elsbeth concludes that the has been plunged into a Siberian inferno and becomes hysterical until she is carried inside and freed from her frosty trappings, and then for an additional ten minutes just to make sure she'd made her point.

Fortunately, Phil was able to sneak in a mid-day break to build Andrew a stupendous snow slide.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Our sleepy eyes feast on another scene worthy of a Christmas card, much unchanged from the day before except that the top 2 inches of snow have now turned to ice. The roads are even more treacherous, but we're safe and warm inside, grateful to still have water and electricity.

Phil holes up with his computer once again, and the kids and I stave off boredom with hot chocolate, popcorn and the first Toy Story movie.

With no hope of things melting any time soon, Phil decides to take the garden shovel to our driveway. Andrew throws on his coat and boats and makes the most of the icy slope with a cookie sheet.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

I wake up to the radio news: Tractor trailer flipped on an interstate ramp, accidents generously sprinkled about the city, schools still closed. Anything that dripped for a few hours on Tuesday had stubbornly re-frozen during the night with no intention of puddling again. Phil, uninspired to shower, shuffles off with hair askew to boot up the computer while I (also unbathed) kiss little faces and answer their energetic question of, "What are we going to do today, Mommy?!" with a weary shrug of my shoulders.

Phil kindly breaks from his typing and scrolling to hang some fantastic, old family portraits his parents gave me for Christmas, blood trickling from his left hand as he put his tools away. Great, great, great grandmother Elizabeth fought back.

The only other excitement of the day was discovering that our washing machine has a cracked drum which has been dripping for some time and rotting our hardwood floors.

We're out of milk, bread, eggs and dangerously close to the bottom of our Christmas candy.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

I wake up. Good for me. Everything looks the same. Schools still closed. In a wild burst of animation, I shower and dress ... but by the time I realize that this one act has depleted my stores of lucidity, it's a done deal. The kids chew slowly on dry cereal as Phil packs his suitcase ... he leaves at noon to seek out a more life-sustaining land, calling home with reports of ice patches throughout the neighborhood ... he barely escaped our tundra with his life.

I stare blankly into the bowels of the bare refrigerator as my stomach rumbles. Children wail in the background while Little Richard's voice howling "Itsy Bitsy Spider" blares, adding to my instability.

What was I doing? Oh yes, food. I must feed my children. I must be strong. My thoughts turn to Sofie, the succulent beast lazily perched on my bed ...

... but Elmo has beaten me to her.

"Shiloh!" I call in a thin, sugary voice. "Shiloh, want a treat?" Dogs are stupidly trusting and loyal.

The oven beeps to alert me to it's preheated status. I open a cabinet in a futile search for a bit of broth when my head snaps up. Shhhhhh. Everything becomes quiet apart from indistinct mumbling in the stairwell. I move forward as if in a trance ... the whispers become louder ... the portraits ... the portraits are talking. Elizabeth hates my shirt. Uncle Rico demands clam chowder. J. Montgomery bellows out the lyrics to 'Uptown Girl.'


Monday, January 10, 2011

Every Idiot Who Goes About With 'Merry Christmas' On His Lips, Should Be Boiled With His Own Pudding

Mobley Christmas 2010

The Precious was sick with a really terrible cold all around Christmas ... probably his version of Elsbeth's croup. I was really trying to push some merriment on Christmas Eve here, making sugar cookies for Santa. That face says it all.

Christmas morning brought us a much happier boy (after a vaporizor purchase, a lot of Vicks and some really spectacular nighttime meds). I love it ... one hand stuffing his face with a Little Debbie Christmas tree cake, the other deep in the stocking searching out the next treat.

My ca-ca-doodie camera didn't do a very good job with Christmas morning photos, but here's a fun (if blurry) moment of Els and the 6-inch Elmo she found in her stocking.

I think someone underage got ahold of my camera (and did a much better job than me ... perhaps it's the ca-ca-doodie photographer that's to blame). Anyway, this picture just makes me happy ...
Elmo biting the heck out of someone's finger after being
released from the stocking.

And here's our girl again, decked out with sparkly ruby slippers given by Nina and Pa.

It was so wonderful to have my family here to spend Christmas with us - it had been a year since we'd seen Bradley!

Hanging out with Pa

A wee Christmas snow!

I'm afraid playing outside with mommy will pale after the
Uncle Bradley One Man Circus.

Enjoying the shananigans from afar.

Nina was also willing to brave the wintry outdoors (and nearly made herself sick pushing Elsbeth 'round and 'round on this little train.)

Christmas all over again with Nannie and Papa!

I think she's saying "More."

Poor Nannie and Papa, trying to get a picture with all the grandchildren at one time. Trying to get everyone to look at the camera got funnier and funnier. Not sure if it ever happened, but this was the closest shot I had. I think maybe Andrew was tired of smiling and thought he'd try a maniacal look just to keep things fresh.

And I leave you with a shot of Elsbeth heading out to the mall with her jacket from Uncle Bradley, her pants from Aunt Gayle, her shirt from Nannie and her beloved doggie purse from Aunt Sallie. Don't you all fear for me in about 13 years?
"Like, chill out Mom! I'm just, like, going out for a while. Gosh."