Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Parachutes Are Only For Astronauts And Sissies

I've had a lot of good family time over the last few weeks.  Right before Thanksgiving I was given the gift of a weekend at Fountain Place, the home of my beloved Auntie, Uncle Mark and cousin Ashton (Elsbeth's namesake).  Missed seeing you, Brent!  I wish I had thought to take a picture of their house while I was there, but alas, I have the brain power of a elderly gerbil these days.  It's an amazing historic house in Burlington, NC.  Grand, beautiful and yet cozy at the same time. Staying there is like being at a spa with your best friends.

The day before I took off for the north found me crouched in the shower scrubbing and shaving (yes, shaving) the hindquarters of my 15-year-old cat.  Here's a picture of Sofie in a good mood.

"Drop dead you filthy dirt bag.  After you fill my food dish."

Sofie is the furriest cat in all the southern states plus Michigan. When a cat with this level of fluff gets an upset tummy, extreme measures come into play.  Like me huddling in the shower, holding her by the scruff with one hand, scrubbing her gnarly buns with the other while her angry, angry wet tail continues to slap me across the face.  It's a festivus miracle she didn't put me in the ER considering how exposed my jugular was throughout the process.

I tell you all this so you can appreciate, as I did, my getting to escape with the Wee Bairn to the haven that is Fountain Place.  For 2.5 days, I got to sit on my bicks and eat amazing food and drink amazing tea and watch ridiculous movies ("Madea Goes To Jail," anyone?) and have yarn braided into my hair and stare at my baby and pass him around so other people could stare at him.  Pretty fabulous.

Christian hanging with Ash

I came back in time to see my Nibblet enjoy her Thanksgiving Feast at school.  The Kindergartners were the Native Americans (Els was aptly named "Dancing Wild Cat"), the First Graders were the Pilgrims.

Dancing Wild Cat playing a Pilgrim game with her 1st Grade buddy.

My mom and dad were able to come and visit us for a few days which was delightful.  The weather was amazing and allowed for tea on the back porch - my favorite.  We forced Nina and Pa to watch our favorite Food Network shows and we ate chocolate pie and cinnamon rolls, and that on top of my weekend at Fountain Place pretty much means I'm still a ways from fitting into normal pants again.  Who needs zippers and snaps?  Not I.  All I want for Christmas are some more yoga pants.

But wait ... there's more!  Next we took off for Thanksgiving at Aunt Gayle and Uncle Ron's place in South Carolina.  We even brought our own false turkey, and it was deemed "not bad" by a panel of meat eaters.  Score!  

This is my favorite brand of the false meats, just in case you're in the market for some.

Christian got to visit with all kinds of fabulous family, some of whom had not met him before.  And for the first time I can remember, there were a few moments when football was not on the television.  It was the national dog show instead, and now I feel I absolutely must have a basset hound.

Do not be deceived by his terrified expression.  Christian really liked Aunt Gayle!

My favorite picture of Uncle David to date.

Gazing with love at Crazy Aunt Sallie

I saw very little of Andrew or Elsbeth during this visit.  They spent hours outside playing with cousin Anna-Kate.  Bliss.

Cousin love!

We got to spend some extra time with Phil's parents in Aiken, during which I discovered I really, really like playing Mexican Train, even though I lost every time in a bad way.  Nannie let me drown my sorrows in her homemade chocolate candy balls, though (don't kill me Sallie!)

Finally at home again, I discovered a small package in the mail box addressed to me, but with no indication of who is was from.  I probably laughed for 2 hours after opening this:

There's nothing like a giant Nicolas Cage pillowcase to brighten your life.  

Oh Bradley, I miss you so! So glad you're coming for Christmas, as is Mr. Cage.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bears, Bears, They've Got No Cares

We got to celebrate my sweet niece's 2nd birthday in Greenville this past weekend, and it was a DRESS UP PARTY.  Whoo hoo, my favorite!  There's Candler above, giving Uncle Phil a checkup with her new doctor kit.  Isn't she darling?!  Phil declared that he could not possibly let me dress him up as a woman again (like at Halloween) since he had begun No Shave November and his beard would make him a less attractive female. Yeah.  Whew.  We really dodged a bullet there.

So he dressed in his running clothes with little bits of paper containing the word "problem" dangling behind from his hat.  Get it?  You see, he was running from his problems.  (eye roll)

I found an Indian outfit in a bin in the garage which I think must have come from my friends Arun and Shobha who are for real Indians.  (They care for children of temple prostitutes in India and are some of the neatest people you could ever meet.)  Unfortunately my look was less terrifying than the  manly brows and a mustache, but it was much more comfortable.  Don't you wish we wore things like this here?

Speaking of manly brows and a mustache ...

Here's Christian hanging out with Super Uncle Jeff.  I stuffed my poor baby like a sausage into  Andrew's old horsey costume for Halloween and couldn't bear to do that to him again And really, I don't need much of an excuse to draw a mustache on my kids.  If you've never tried it, stop whatever you're doing this instant and go find a kid and a marker.  I promise you won't be sorry.  I mean, is there anything funnier in the world??

If you can't find a child, a pet will do nicely.

Hahahahahaha!!  It's still hilarious, no matter how many times I look at it!  Anyway, back to the party....

Andrew was an awesome Mario.  Do you like the hat?  Did it myself.

And Els was a deliciously cuddly puppy.  She found this costume at a consignment shop and went nutty nuts over it.  I think I'll be seeing this cute doggie around quite a bit.

What a fabulous reason to get together with the family and be wierdos.  Happy birthday Candler!!  We love you!!

Oh, OK, one more ...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tricki Woo's Gone Crackerdog

I was using my time wisely and reading through some old instant message exchanges between myself and my beloved when I ran across this gem.  Felt like it needed to be preserved for the sake of posterity.

Would it be uber pretentious of me to get some glasses without prescription in them?
Just to look more ... professory?

i don't think i could handle that
you paid big money NOT to wear glasses

Not all the time.

i cannot believe we're even having this conversation
you with your non-prescription fashion glasses
i have no words

So "yes" is being your answer?

i'm going outside to play with Elsbeth and am hoping the sun will remove all memory of you having mentioned this

Just as I hope the vinegar will remove all your nasty foot warts.

was that a nasty retort because i don't support your RIDICULOUS idea?
huh huh huh??
bring it baby

You're making me laugh.

next you're going to want to tint your eyebrows and wax your armpits

i just ordered you a pair of these orthopedic shoes ...

i thought they'd give your style a little ... je nous se qua

At this point he started ignoring me.  I guess I had made my point.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Unemployed In Greenland

So Monday was my birthday. 37. An unmonumental  age to reach, but I had been looking forward to it none-the-less with the ridiculous expectation that I might do something during the day, anything really, that didn't involve urine-soaked laundry, pet poop or dishes. I had actually envisioned myself scooting off to a coffee shop, perhaps with my precious baby in tow (him sleeping contentedly, of course) to read and sip tea for a bit. I love my life. I really do! It's a good, full, rich life and I wouldn't trade it for anything ...  except maybe 2 hours in Starbucks flanked by Earl Grey and James Herriot. I am only human.

 Anyway, the dream was not to be. Last week Phil nonchalantly mentioned that he'd like to spend a few days in South Carolina helping his brother with his political campaign. Se la vie. I was surprised, then, on Monday morning when I didn't feel altogether bummed. Andrew and Elsbeth came running up to me first thing shouting "Happy Birthday!" ... and there was cake! Big cake. Phil and the kids had made me a giant chocolate cake with vanilla frosting to keep me company and it looked mighty fine. Baby on my hip and kindergartner swirling around my ankles before 7 in the morning , I was unexpectedly chipper.  Christian is such a sweet, easy guy, and Els and I would certainly find something festive to do this morning.  It was going to be a great day.

It was while searching for caffeine and something to feed the kids that it hit me. Crapola. Today is the Farmer Boy breakfast in Andrew's 3rd grade class and we're signed up to provide pancake batter.  Let's be clear that PHIL signed us up for pancake batter. Not napkins. Not a carton of milk. Homemade pancake batter. Never mind that Mr. Mobley is now too busy watching Madame Secretary and working out on the elliptical to mix up the batter he was so eager to offer.  I start pulling things out of cabinets, muttering a little under my breath.  I put Christian down for a nap, do a little mixing, some dog-feeding, some jacket-finding, and I manage to have an absurdly large bowl of batter ready to go at departure time. Phil's plan was to drop Andrew off at school  (Monday is Elsbeth's day at home) and then to take off for Columbia.

 I was seeing Andrew off to the car, his skinny arms wrapped around the 20 pound bowl , when Christian woke up, Elsbeth asked to color, and the phone rang. It's the vet and she's willing to see my hens! This is wonderful news since I lost one of my girls not long ago to what I guessed was an internal parasite, and I was concerned that the rest of my flock had begun losing weight. So I scooped up Christian, awake and ready for his breakfast, held the phone between my shoulder and cheek waiting to talk to the receptionist, and Elsbeth runs up to me. "Daddy says you need to come downstairs right now." This could not be good. As I round the corner to the kitchen, I see a trail of ivory-colored droplets leading to the back door. Apparently as soon as the menfolk bumped over the driveway, a magnificent tidal wave of batter engulfed Andrew. He was now shivering on the back porch on the brink of tears, looking as though he'd been tempura-ed. Baby hanging on for the ride, phone still pressed to my cheek, I pull Andrew inside and have him stand on the mat while I begin peeling his soaked sweatshirt off with my free hand.

"The lid you gave us didn't work at all."

"Yeah, I see that."

Andrew starts crying and Phil's letting me know what a terrible idea it was to send the mix in that particular vessel when the vet's office clicks in.

 "Dr. Mendendahl would like you to come in this morning with 2 of your hens. Will that work?"

 "Yes, sure, I can make that happen."

 "Which two hens are you bringing in?"

 "Mom, I don't have another school shirt! I'm going to miss art!"

 "Ummm, how about Isabelle and, Mary." 

"Christy, what in the world are we going to put all this batter in?  And how are we going to pour it out of this bowl?  It's all over my car, by the way."

 "Ma'am, we can't find you name anywhere in our system. You say you've been here before?"

 "Yes, many times. It's M-O-B-L-E-Y."

 "Mommy, mommy, why are you talking about Mary? Mommy, what's happening with Mary? Mommy, who are you talking to?  Why did you say Mary?"

 "Hon, why don't we put it in this canister thing with a lid? I'm talking to the vet, Els. Andrew, here are some pants, wear this shirt, and I think your shoes are alright. You won't miss all of art."

 "Oh, OK Ma'am, we've found you. So we'll see you shortly."

 Somewhere in the middle of all this, I hear "Tainted Love" playing in the back of my mind.

Glory be, the canister thing worked. Andrew and Phil set out once again, and now all I've got to do is catch a couple of chickens, put them in a dog crate, and take them along with my 5-year-old and 3-month-old to the veterinarian's office. No problem.

Here's my circus in the waiting room at Value Vet

The vet visit went comparatively smoothly, I'm happy to report, and we got to feel like celebrities for a few minutes.  All the vet techs came in to see Mary and Isabelle, holding them and having their pictures made with them.  Then I got a lesson in how to wedge a syringe into a chicken's beak to give them medicine.  Useful skill as it turns out.  

When Andrew got home from school, he and I chased down hen after hen, one of us holding them while the other dosed them with a Panacur suspension, then we shouted out the names to Elsbeth who checked them off a list.  The family that deworms together, stays together.

My little secretary preparing to record dosed hens 

Farm vet in the making ... be still my heart

Somewhere between the vet's office and chasing the rest of the flock down, I get a text from Phil:

"Taking a lunch break.  This is really fun!"

No bitterness.

In a later conversation, Phil shares that he is having such a blast, he has decided he's definitely running for political office one day.  Now let's just get one thing straight right here and now.  I may not be very powerful - clearly I control very little of my own life - but I'm pretty sure I could bring that dream down in flames without even trying hard.  Even now I can see it on the evening news, and it brings a wistful smile to my face ...

"The wife of senate hopeful Philip Mobley is at it again.  With her signature lavender dreadlocks now reaching waist-length, Christina Mobley was caught earlier today breaking into one of the infamous hog farms in Smithfield, Virginia where she, along with her 3 bare-footed children,  released 10,000 pigs into the wild..."

Let's see how you like that Republican Party.

So here's to 37!  May it continue to be ... interesting.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I'm Not Force-Feeding Myself A Steak At Four-Thirty To Save A Couple Of Bucks, I'll Tell You That!

My Wee Nibblet has turned the big 5!  She has been eagerly anticipating this birthday for some time - one of the major milestones to be reached before being allowed to go to kindergarten.  I was finally able to help her understand that she couldn't head off to class the day she turned 5.  Glad I figured out what she was thinking before her big day or it may have been quite the letdown.

We had a simple family celebration including pink cupcakes, a morning at the Botanical Gardens, and lunch out at one of our favorite pizza places.  We also had the joy have having Phil's Aunt Gayle here to help us celebrate!  Her favorite gift?  That rubbery square of Swiss cheese she's holding in the photo.  It came with 2 little rubbery mice that hide in the cheese and she's been rather obsessed with them.  Good work Aunt Sallie!

I'm not sure how tall she is (hmmm ... it is time to schedule that check-up, isn't it?), but heavens she's tall.  She got to spend some time at Nannie and Papa's  house and they compared her height to Aunt Sallie and Uncle Jeff at 5 (Phil wasn't living at that house at 5).  She's a full 2 inches past them.  Wowzers.  I'm glad for the warm weather since most of her pants were inching towards her knees.  Shorts are so much more forgiving.  Just waiting for the day Andrew has to look up to his little sister.

Happy 5 to our sweet Amazon girl!  We love you more than life and breath!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Like He Was One Of Those Cows In Michigan

Hooray!!!  Our sweet feathered babies are here!  We got a new brood of baby chicks just this morning - at Phil's request I'll have you know.  Plus he was responsible for their names, an honor I rarely let out of my clutches, but he picked really good ones.  Ten thousand points and an omelet to anyone who can find the common thread.  Here are Elsbeth and Andrew holding their most cherished, Els with Mary and Andrew with Sybil.  They are both Easter Eggers, precious little chicken mutts that can look very different from each other (as you may have gathered) and lay eggs ranging from white to pink to blue.  No one knows 'til their first eggs what you'll be getting from these girls, but Elsbeth is pulling hard for Mary to be a pink layer while Andrew is whispering high praise about the color blue in Sybil's ear.

And now an introduction to the other 4 newest members of the family.

Below are Isobel and Violet, both Buff Brahma's.  I've been wanting this breed since we got our first chicks, but they were never available at the right time until now.  They are brown egg layers with feathered legs, known as the gentle giants among chickens and revered for their huggability.  Don't you just want to hug one right now?

Next is Edith, a Rhode Island Red and Phil's special girl.  He just loves this breed - wonderful egg layers, sweet and beautiful - but between illness and raccoons and hawks we've had terrible luck keeping them around.  We're really pulling for Edith.

And finally, here's Daisy being a little shy for the camera (not used to be out of the scullery and all).  She's my Olive Egger, another mixed breed with a lovable temperament that lays the most amazing olive-green eggs.  We're looking forward to a very colorful egg basket come fall.

In other news, here's Elsbeth all decked out for the sheepdog trials.  Who knew it was such an ostentatious affair?  If I'm remembering correctly, she was actually a dog in the trials and won first place!  And I didn't even train her.  She's just that good.

Our sweet Nibblet, clearly more competitive and athletic than we ever knew, followed up her trial win with a medal-earning run in the Parkview Christian School Trail Trot.  It was pretty adorable watching the siblings tear off together down our local walking trail with a smattering of Andrew's school mates.  Elsbeth is holding her longhorn steer named University who was peeking out of the top of her jacket during the entire run. Andrew is not wearing a yarmulke, by the way, just in case you were curious.

A few evenings ago at supper (facon, eggs and pears if you must know), I noticed that Andrew was engrossed in some book he'd brought with him and was completely neglecting his end of the table conversation.  Curious, I peered over his shoulder to see what had him entranced.

This is what I found.

I'll round out today's installment of SweetScooterBicks with another creature update.

Have you ever seen anything so pitiful?  Poor Shiloh had a tumor removed from his tummy last week and is being prevented from chewing at his stitches in the most humbling way.  Thankfully he's getting more used to his new decoration and isn't crashing into everything quite as violently now.  Just got the pathology report back and it's benign - yea! We sure love this sweet boy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Look at you! Still all muscly and everything. How’s space?

Look at my budding scientist sporting his new glasses! Many months ago the nurse at his 7-year-old check-up suggested we have his vision tested.  He seemed fine to me so I took my sweet time doing it. When we went to the eye doctor a few weeks ago, they started throwing up those letters on the wall and they nearly had to scroll back to the giant "E" before he could see them.  "Oh no!"  I thought.  "My poor blind child has been bumping around, trying to make his way in life because his horrible mother hasn't had the sense to notice!"  Turns out it wasn't really all that bad, but he's a bit near-sighted and these adorable wire-rimmed spectacles bring the world into tighter focus for him.

 I'm happy to report that he loves them, and we've had them for nearly a week without them getting lost or broken.  Amazing.  He looks so old to me, full of deep thoughts and wisdom, not far from packing up all his Legos and heading off to college where he's destined to change the world.  Sigh.

And then we'll have a bona fide 7-year-old moment that brings me back down for a while.  I confess that I've saved this little disciplinary writing sample in his box of memories. *

Another thing I've been slow to do is getting these kiddos back into swim lessons.

Elsbeth thinks she can swim and has absolutely no fear of the water, but can't keep herself up for more than a couple seconds. A terrifying combination.  Andrew can keep himself up and slowly make his way around a pool, but his skills could definitely use some strengthening.  And they both adore the water.  Glad I finally got around to this, but I dearly love to be home, and leisurely afternoons of the two of them flitting around the back yard for hours while also having plenty of time for homework and chores is my idea of heaven.  So adding swim lessons PLUS piano lessons for Andrew feels like a lot!  And sometimes ... brace yourself ... it cuts into my tea time.  Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!  I mean, can you even imagine having such a loaded schedule?  (The world around me laughs and laughs as I wipe my brow.)

 Fortunately, even with this new frenzy of activity, we manage to squeeze in a little super hero time.

And here I am at 4 months.  I'm not sure where that crazy fuzz of hair came from - don't pretend you don't see it - but Phil was being particularly horrible that morning and wouldn't take another one.

I'm feeling this wee one kicking around in there now, my favorite.  The floor already feels very far away and I'm tempted to install one of those awesome chair lifts on our stairs, but I'm really enjoying the sweetness of the second trimester.  Apparently Wee Bairn is quite a savory baby and I've often  found myself opting for BBQ potato chips or (like today) a black bean burrito as my tea time treat while the Girl Scout cookies sit untouched in the pantry.  Odd.  I'm sure it just means that this baby is so unbelievably sweet already that my system just can't handle any more, right?  :-)

* "Bicks" is our family word for "bottom"

Friday, February 14, 2014

Using Mainly Spoons, We Dig A Tunnel Under The City And Release It Into The Wild

I don't remember what was happening in our lives the last time I wrote, but I'm pretty sure our yard didn't look like this.  We're wrapping up our second snowed-in week of the season, and though I'm quite ready for spring, I have to say that these wintery blasts have a been pretty fun!  During our last snow (2012), Elsbeth screamed bloody murder after 2 minutes outside while Andrew wanted to play for hours, but couldn't do it by himself.  I took the above picture from a window while I was cozy inside in my pajamas.  They play and leap and slide down hills and make snow balls and angels for hours ... and they don't need me at all!  The only bummer was that I neglected to purchase decent gloves in advance and so we were switching out soggy hand socks on a regular basis.

We've also had a sweet new development in the family.  Our Wee Bairn is due July 17th and we are all so very excited!

Even with the impending storm brewing, we were able to make our ultrasound appointment and got our first real peek and this dear one.  He (she?) rubbed his eyes and waved at us and kicked around, much to the delight of big brother and sister.  All looking whole and healthy and we are so deeply grateful to the One who is knitting this sweet baby together.

Piling on the things to make us humbled with gratitude is Phil's wonderful new job with Deloitte.  He's in another cool downtown office right across the street from his old one and he's really enjoying it.  He was on business in NYC this week and missed our sleet and snow, but appears to have gotten plenty of his own.  It's the first time I've ever heard him pine away for a pair of galoshes.

Within an hour of being offered this new position, he was online researching possibilities of a last minute trip to Disney World.  Funny, adorable man.  He is completely obsessed with Disney World as being the pinnacle of childhood delight.  He worked his magic and we were able to squeeze a family trip to Orlando in before his first day at Deloitte.

We had such a wonderful time.  Andrew wanted to ride the fastest, craziest things available, while (surprisingly) Els had no interest in speed but adored Peter Pan and Small World and meeting all the characters.                      

We stayed way too long on our last day so Elsbeth could meet Snow White.  They had a lovely chat about her stuffed Pluto.

The couple in the background of this shot below were mesmerizing to me.  They spent the entire carousel ride taking incredibly amusing pictures of themselves and brought me much joy.

Phil had the hardest time leaving, poor soul.  But back to reality we all must go.

And now a quick update on My Nibblet and The Precious.

This picture pretty much sums up my girl.

She and Andrew had been playing in the garage for some time.  Do we have a coal chute in there I wasn't aware of?  She had a luxurious bubble bath and got all sweet and clean for bedtime.  The next morning she asked to put on her boots over her "footie wams" (footed pajamas) to go outside, and I found her like this a few minutes later:

She is absolutely impossible to keep clean and all of her clothes (mostly pink or orange and filled with sparkles if she has anything to do with it) are stained beyond recognition and have gaping holes in the knees.  She loves coloring and painting and will amuse herself for hours with her art projects.  Here she is working on a Valentine for Daddy.

She is counting down the days until kindergarten and has already begun to send love notes to Mrs. Funk, the kindergarten teacher.  She loves to tell me all the things she's going to teach the new baby and how she's going to help.  I'm a little nervous.  I got more nervous when Andrew came up to me the other day and we had this conversation:

Andrew:  Mommy, Elsbeth just told me that when the baby comes, she's going to hit it until it cries.

Mommy:  Elsbeth?  Come here, Honey.  Did you tell Andrew that you're going to hit the new baby?

Elsbeth:  (Stands there silent with a  half guilty, half "well yeah" expression on her face.)

Mommy:  I thought you said you were going to help the baby.  Why would you want to make him cry?

Elsbeth:  Ummmmm ...  I think maybe I'll just tap him.

Oh heaven help us all.  Perhaps I won't leave her babysitting right away.

My little man is scooting right along through the second grade and loving it.  He wants to be a scientist when he grows up, is enjoying the microscope Nina and Pa got him for Christmas and is already requesting a chemistry set for his birthday.  He was all set this morning to build some sort of apparatus he read about that slices specimens to examine until Mommy put the kibosh on any projects that involved razor blades.  He felt I was being quite unreasonable.

He finally lost those top front teeth a couple months ago (we're late teeth-losers around here) and nothing appears to be coming in!  We leave in a few minutes for a dental cleaning.  Perhaps I'll inquire about grade school dentures.  Actually, I pretty much adore this gapped grin.

And exciting culinary development:  Andrew loves salad!!  With my house of picky eaters, each new healthy addition to our list of desirable meals is cause for celebration.  His salad of choice right now is romaine with tomato and bell pepper and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette. Very sophisticated, don't you think?

Signing off to go make a quick salad-y lunch, then see if our car can handle the one icy patch left on our driveway as we head to Dr. Robinsons office.  Popcorn and hot chocolate when we get home to celebrate our first venture out into the world since the ice storm!