Meatballs, Sniffles & Christmas

My son just ate a meatball.  It wasn’t a homemade masterpiece, but I don’t care about that.  It was this…

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and that is good enough!

When I put the bowl in front of him, he did his usual visual inspection and sniff test, but then he just popped the spoon into his mouth with a meatball on it!  Then he did it again.  And again!

He ate three meatballs and several bites of the pasta and sauce along with them.  For a child who exists primarily on crackers and chocolate milk, this is progress!

Sniffles

We needed some progress today because the morning hasn’t gone well.

The boy is home again with his constantly sniffling nose.  That nose drives all three of us absolutely batty.  I’ve written post after post about that nose.

It keeps us up at night and makes us nervous all day.  I swear, it sometimes seems that nose is just as responsible for my son’s challenges as any cognitive issue ever has been.

This morning, he was so annoyed by it that he started slamming his bedroom door to show his frustration.  Since we have such a tight, pressured schedule in the morning, I have no patience with that behavior.  Whatever the cause, I simply don’t have time to indulge it.  Unfortunately, I let stress get the best of me and I went overboard in response.

First, I yelled up the stairs and asked him to stop.  He slammed the door again. Then I heard myself asking him if I should call Santa and cancel Christmas.

Cancel Christmas!  Can you imagine?  I am horrible and I regret it.  It made him cry.  My lecturing loudly to him didn’t help.

What the hell is wrong with me?  After the events in Connecticut last week, what business have I to do anything other than hug my child and not let go?  I am weepy over my failure.

Cancel Christmas…sheesh!  Christmas pretty much got cancelled last year.  Remember?

There is no way I would take the joy of this season away from my son (or myself!).  So why did I say it?  Why?  Because I am an ogre.  I am a very stressed-out, over-tired ogre.

Back to the sniffles.

My son doesn’t like the doctor and he has a horrible time getting any medicine down his throat, so he just keeps sniffling.  It’s an impossible situation.

Yesterday, the school called me to come get him an hour early.  He was hitting himself, losing focus, disrupting class, all in frustration over that nose.  I didn’t get the message until it was time for him to get on the bus.

When I finally spoke to the teacher, I felt the need to promise her something.  I said I would take him to the doctor.  Honestly though, I don’t really want to.

His pediatrician doesn’t have anything new to say about this, so going to her feels like a huge waste of time for all of us.  I requested a referral to a specialist instead.  The specialist can’t see us until January 7th.  Right.  Of course.  It’s a week before Christmas.  😐

Speaking of Christmas

On a lighter note, I had lunch with an old friend this week.  It was very nice to relax and chat without having to worry about my son for a few hours.  (Thanks for playing single parent all day, husband.  🙂 )

After lunch, my friend and I went to a new Goodwill store in my mom’s neighborhood.  Shopping the thrifters at Christmas is so fun.  You find the weirdest, best stuff ever during the holidays, and it’s usually marked way down so they can clear it out.  I went to the Spring Valley AMVETS store this week too – one of my favorites.

Here are my latest treasures:

seven sugared fruit
(They’re not strung for hanging, but I love them!)

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a painted alphabet sign
(This is kind of hard to photograph since it’s already on my wall.)

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When I mused out loud to my friend about why I was drawn to the sign,
she  immediately said “because it has cute sheep.”

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So true.  So very true!  Baaa.

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and a big purple ornament

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Ornaments are a problem for me.  I can’t resist them.  They bring such excitement to my son, I find myself buying them all year.

Mostly I pick them up at thrift stores, so they’re not pricey, but they do take up space.  I try to weed out the broken, worn, or uninteresting ornaments every year, but I’d rather just add more trees, if you want know the truth.

I love ornaments, even the cheap kind that impress with only their immenseness.  Please note giant green, gold, and blue orbs personally selected by the ten-year-old:

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I also have a thing for the painted tin ornaments from Bazaar Del Mundo.  Someday, I will have a tree just for them.  For now, there are a few on the big tree and a few hanging from the chandelier:

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That’s All, Folks.

The child has discovered a long forgotten disposable camera.  He has decided that taking the entire roll of me is the thing to do.  Unfortunately, the flash is blinding me something serious.  Gotta go!

What are you up to?

♥♥

Some Christmas Stuff

The little boy and I made some of those glass “marble” ornaments last night.  I’ve made them every few years or so, but never been pleased with them enough to post photos or really even to keep them.  This year’s batch is making it to the tree!

Here they are:

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It’s hard to get a picture of them actually hanging on a branch.  I think my camera is dying.  😦

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To make then, you need some clear glass ornaments and a bunch of acrylic paints.

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You just put some paint inside the ornament and swirl until it looks right and everything is covered.

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On a few of them, I swirled in one color, let it set for a few seconds, then used a straw to scrape stripes in the first color before I poured in the second color.

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You will waste some paint.  It takes more than a tablespoon to get the insides really coated.  I dump out most of the excess then put the ornaments upside-down on an empty egg carton to drain/dry completely.  We waited overnight before replacing the caps and hanging them on the tree.

I think they look like giant Italian marbles.  🙂

There are a few other decorations new to our house this year too.

– a huge glass strawberry that I picked up in one of my favorite Poway thrift stores:

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– a fun felt garland from Michael’s:

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– a paper garland, carefully handcrafted by the little boy:

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– the usual menagerie of sticker-covered wrapping paper trees in the stairwell:

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I’ve had that wire birdcage house on the shelf for a few years.  It came from one of my all-time favorite stores – The Vintage House in downtown Brentwood, California.  This year I filled the cage with a bag of those fragrant cinnamon pinecones from the grocery store floral department.  They smell so good when you walk by them to climb the stairs.  Ahh.

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And last, but not least, I finally found a frame at Goodwill that was interesting and big enough to fit the little Mexican tapestry I bought a few months ago.  I did a really bad job of spray painting the frame – my Facebook friends already read my note to self about avoiding windy days and swarms of gnats next time.  😦  Ha!  But it will do.  I just wanted to get the cloth protected a.s.a.p. and onto the wall while I put more thought into the bigger picture redo of my bedroom.

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So there you have it.  Christmas stuff.

How are you decorating this year?

♥♥

Holiday Brain Dump

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Bad Mommy

I waited too long to get my son an advent calendar from Trader Joe’s, so now they’re sold out and I feel like a bad mom.

Well okay, I felt like a bad mom before I went to Trader Joe’s.

Today, I made my son cry.  And I made my mother cry.

Just for good measure, I asked my husband if there was anything shitty I could say to him too.  Wisely, he offered no suggestions.  😐

The little boy’s upset was related to homework.  Or rather, my upset was related to the homework (and to the accompanying note of parental reprimand from the teacher.)  The little boy’s upset was related to homework and to my reaction.  Big surprise.  Might I just say, AGAIN, that I am baffled by the papers that come home with my son?

Getting him interested in looking at them is a daily nightmare for the two of us.  He is tired when he steps off the school bus.  He wants a snack and then something mindless to amuse himself for the rest of the afternoon.  Homework is painful for my child and painful for me.  We both hate it.

But enough about that.  It’s an old, worn-out problem with no solution.  I work daily not to care what the teacher or anyone else thinks of how we handle it.  Or don’t handle it.

Moving on.

Bad Daughter

I made my mother cry because I reminded her that we weren’t the best of housemates when I returned from college feeling all independent and snappy two decades ago.

I had moved back into the house with her and my dad and she and I argued sometimes.  Who wouldn’t have?  Headstrong twenty-something suddenly sleeping in her old twin bed?  I was unpleasant.

Ultimately, mom and I came to a mutual understanding that I needed to find myself a real job and somewhere else to live.  It was an excellent idea, and I am the better for having done just that, but now mom is worried.  She hadn’t remembered the low points of that summer until I burst her rosy impression over a cheap plate of pancakes at Denny’s this morning.  Sorry, Mom!  😦

So, two for two.  My son cried.  My mom cried.

I cried too, but that came after I had filled my cart at Trader Joe’s and then discovered the item I had come for, the advent calendar, couldn’t be had.  I bought every seasonal chocolate product the store carries.

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And yes, I waited until I was in the car to open the teary flood gates.

Okay, so changing the subject completely…

Husband Update

Husband is mending more each day.  He might even go back to work tomorrow – driving in his own car!  Yippee!  He is still uncomfortable at night and if you watch him for a few minutes you will notice how much he favors his right side, but he’s getting there.  The ribs, the collar bone…they are repairing themselves.

The Mission Inn Festival of Lights

We drove up to Riverside on Thursday to spend one quick night at The Mission Inn.  We sort of owed it to the boy (and ourselves) to do something spontaneous and fun to make up for the Palm Desert accident weekend.  The Mission Inn was the perfect answer.

The Festival of Lights is amazing.  There are animated characters, lighted horse carriage rides, giant nutcrackers, icicle lights, garlands, candles and falling snow too.  There are real reindeer and vendors with gingerbread, roasted nuts and miniature doughnuts available every night during the holidays.  There are Christmas carolers and a roving Santa in the restaurants.

The sleeping rooms are luxurious and full of charm.  The spa products in the bath are rich and fragrant and the windows actually open.  The beds are very comfortable and loaded with extra pillows.  The linens are crispy white and super fresh.  There are big fluffy bathrobes in the closet and the package we got came with a divinely citrus-scented aromatherapy candle.

The hotel itself is a work of art.  There is a rotunda with a spiral staircase.  There are gorgeous plazas and flowered balconies.  There are stained glass windows, catacombs and an amazing clock.  The hotel pool is walk-in warm and landscaped to feel private, even though it is surrounded by sleeping rooms.  Everything is beautiful.  Everything is humbling.  And we didn’t even see it all.  We saw a lot, but we missed far more.  Next time, I think we’ll take a guided tour just for the heck of it.

My favorite thing was the twenty-foot, ornately carved church pew sitting in the hall outside our room.  I told my husband that I would gladly tear up the inside of our house and completely rebuild our decor to accommodate that pew, if only they would let me have it.  Sigh.

One of the best things about the trip for me was the little gray striped cat who appeared at the pool when we went for a swim.  My own gray baby passed less than a week before.  It was comforting to see a similar little face so clearly interested in my activities.  When my son splashed near, this cat was just as reserved and removed as my Poupon, but when my son wandered away, the cat came a little closer and talked a little more insistently to me.  I wish I’d gone back down to visit with the cat once we were dry and dressed.  Maybe next time.

Before I change the subject yet again, I have to mention Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s, the store across the way from our room.  I went in once with my husband and son and immediately I knew that I’d have to return again without them.  When I did, I bought a painted metal bird and a weird little nativity set.

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Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s is jam-packed with the most interesting little trinkets, wrapping paper, bath soaps, whimsical tins, garden treasures, dishes, tiny paintings, knick-knacks and Christmas ornaments ever!  The hours aren’t set in stone, but it seemed to me there was someone behind the register most of the day.  It will take you some time to see everything, so be prepared to browse for a while!

Happening Now

The little boy has liberated some empty magazine files from my bedroom and is constructing makeshift body armor with scotch tape.

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thomas magazine rack armor

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The husband is playing computer games and I am dreaming of pajamas, ice cream and a better camera. 😦

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The last remaining cat has finished eating dinner alone in the kitchen.

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And tomorrow our routine starts all over again.

What are you up to?

P.S.  That Santa plaque at the top of the post is something I picked up on clearance in Bazaar Del Mundo a few years ago.  It reminds me to tell you how emotional it was for me when Santa stopped by our dinner table at the Mission Inn Restaurant the other night.  It was the first time our ten-year-old had ever met him.  Because of the many challenges our son faces just getting through a “normal” day, we have never bothered with shopping mall Santas and their incredible lines.  We’ve never been to any event where Santa was a main attraction and even the occasional Santa in front of a store or at an amusement park has always been too removed or surrounded by other children for us to have a meaningful experience.  This time, Santa came to us and asked our son what he wanted for Christmas.  Our sweet little boy told Santa what we already knew…he just wants pencils.  🙂

♥♥

Six More Days

Here’s the boy with his new musical Snoopy snow globe.

Thanks for getting it, Daddy!

The snow blows around by itself.  So cute.

Here’s the boy writing out the notes to Jingle Bells.  He doesn’t read sheet music.  He doesn’t know what a treble clef is.  He doesn’t know how to draw a proper half note or quarter note, but he knows where to put the notes relative to the others.  He gets it.  Gotta get this boy some lessons…and teach him the correct lyrics!

Last, but not least, here’s some Jenga math from the boy:

He made me print these.  Not sure what he’s going to do with them.  🙂

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P.S.  Stuff in our house that isn’t usually here:  Minty Mallows from Trader Joe’s, brie, some kind of creamy, crumbly, orange and blue cheese that melts in your mouth and makes you wonder why you ever thought you could give up cheese thank you very much Sarah :), twelve kinds of cookies (not an exaggerated number), one dreamy piece of oatmeal cake with coconut pecan frosting, cranberry ice, Andes mints, old-timey homemade rock candy thank you Jennifer, Hershey’s Kisses, Smuckers caramel ice cream topping, a bouquet of pine and other winter greens,  Rancho Raviri Almond yummies and one squishy Kinder Happy Hippo thank you Leighann,  World Market Texas Turtle coffee, and one small “gingerbread” crack house with missing shingles, a bad paint job and compromised structural integrity.

The end.  What’s in your kitchen this month?

♥♥

Holidaze 2011

It’s Saturday morning.

The boy is up, energetic, LOUD, and relentless in his demands.

Just now he asked for banana circles.  Okay, not so loud or outrageous.

I cut them up and gave him the plate.

I figure I have about twelve seconds before he is finished eating them and wants me to do/make/be something else.

I’ll write fast.

Thanksgiving is gone.

We had lots of people and a ton of food.

I wasn’t that excited about my mashed potatoes – should have used the russets.

The stuffing was kind of dry – celery chunks were too big and too plentiful.

My green beans were uninspired and far from my personal standard – bought late and microwave-steamed in the bag.  Sigh.  Painful to confess.  I served them anyway.  I ate them anyway.

But…

the guests brought delicious side dishes and desserts, the turkey seemed moist, and no one complained!

And I did make a very good cake – even if I do say so myself.  🙂

I’m marking the “success” box.  Yea!

Husband and I were full and sleepy after everyone went home.  We sat on the couch, defenseless, and allowed an entire episode of the little boy’s  Wow Wow Wubbzy to assault us.

The boy was tired too.  Visiting cousins are very exciting!

I’m glad I got to see the taller ones for lunch in Old Town the next day.  There’s nothing quite like a huge plate of my favorite Mexican food, having someone else cook it, and then getting to shop afterward.  And with cousins, no less!  😀

Now Christmas is coming.  😀

Miniature candy canes have been dipped in chocolate.

The trees are up – a big one downstairs, small ones in the bedrooms, a one-footer in the guest bath, and teeny versions tucked into the china hutch, the bookshelves, and a few other corners.

The little boy made paper trees to line the stairwell wall.

The stockings are at the mantle – one for each of us, one for each of the cats, and an extra for kitty cats past.

The garlands have been wrangled too.  Stripped of  failing white bulbs, they’ve been re-wrapped with cheery colored lights and hung happily from the banister and bookcases.

The upstairs landing looks like the site of like a plastic pine needle massacre and my hands are scratched in twenty different places, but the lights work!  Ha!

They’re on timers too.  I don’t even have to flip a switch for a daily dose of Christmas cheer.

Inflatable Santa is in the yard and husband hung the outdoor lights.  If the wind blows in from L.A. tonight, we’ll bring Santa inside for a while.

All of the leaves have dropped from the plum tree and the nasturtiums are back.

The late season hibiscus flowers are smaller, richer in color and more fleeting.

I stewed the mini pumpkins and poured them into the yard to hasten their demise.

And my twelve seconds are up.

What’s going on at your house?

Hope you’re having a Happy Saturday!

P.S.  The picture is of the Fairy Princess Grey Poupon in her standard winter spot.  Sweet.  Warm.  Dirty, furry kitty.

♥♥

How I Miss Thee

What a nice week!  Christmas has once again come and gone, but the house still feels cheery and we played tourist today, so I’m in a good mood.

We drove over the bridge to snap a few photos in front of the Hotel del Coronado’s giant Christmas tree.  There were a lot of people crammed into the lobby with the very same idea, but we forged ahead and enjoyed a short walk through the downstairs shops as well.

My favorite of those is Babcock & Story Emporium.  Since I am not usually alone when I go to Coronado, I never have quite enough time in this store!  The shelves are jam-packed with the sweetest things – little birds and baubles and dishes and soaps and carved wood this and that.

The prices always seem prohibitively, touristy high at first glance, but I am convinced I can find sale items with more time to scout them out.  Hey, wait a minute!  Now that I think about it, it’s torture to go there!  Someday I will drive back by myself and spend all the time I like.  😀

This afternoon, I was on high alert with the little boy and his gotta-touch-everything instincts.  He’s VERY into candles this month.  Sensory thing – has to smell them all.  And I mean all.  Babcock & Story has a lot.  😐

He dropped a big glass candle jar at Vons on Christmas Eve.  Had it been a preferred scent, I might have taken the damned thing home and peeled the broken glass from around the wax.  But no, he had to break a stinky one – pine or something.  I put it in the cart and tried to pay for it, but the store manager checked me through and wouldn’t take my money.  Thank you, Vons Manager.  My kid and I owe you one.

Back to playing tourist…

After paying $15 (ouch) for a two-hour stay in the hotel parking lot, we bid adieu to the Christmas Tree and made our merry way to Old Town’s Casa Guadalajara for Mexican food.  Culture!  Color!  Melted cheese!  Who could ask for anything more?  Free parking?  You got it!

I ordered the same combo plate I order at every Mexican restaurant I visit: a chili relleno, a cheese enchilada with salsa verde, and vegetarian black beans with lettuce and tomato instead of rice.  Delicioso!  Guadalajara makes a spicy chili relleno.  I always forget that and for a few minutes I can’t get enough iced tea.  It is this meal that makes me know I can never be a vegan.  God help me.  Poor cows.  Poor my stomach.  It’s a LOT of cheese.

Anyhoo, after we finished lapping up our puddles of yummy, we walked across the parking lot to the Bazaar del Mundo shops.  This is one of my favorite places the day after Christmas.  Bazaar del Mundo is always a feast for the eyes and a boost for the shopper’s soul, but on this day it’s holiday sparkly and full of half-price fun.

The little boy picked out this enormous green ball for just $3.00:

and I added a pink armadillo to my tin ornament collection:

Pink armadillo.  Heh heh.  He’s funny, right?  I love him.  LOVE him!

Oh my, I am suddenly so sleepy.

Grammy and Grandpa turned in two hours ago, not far behind the little boy.  Husband is down the hall, getting hopelessly lost in his new video game and I am wondering why we’ve both kept our eyes open so late into the night.  It’s 11:29.  Husband has to work tomorrow.  I’d better go rescue him while it’s not too late to put our heads on the pillows today, instead of tomorrow.

Night night.

And Happy Sunday!

P.S.  I have missed you and I will be back to regular writing sometime this week.

♥♥

Rain, Rain Won’t You Stay?

It’s not quite 7 a.m.

I’ve been up for two hours and have already driven my friends to the airport, gone to the grocery store and fed the cats.

It’s pouring rain and it’s windy.  The roads are wet and dangerous and I could have done without the jackass taxi driver who decided he needed our lane more than we did, but we survived, and it was nice to see the world as it was waking.  I love the rain.

(PPH, thank you for your instinct to save us.)

Now my friends are on their merry way to Christmas in the South of France and I am safely back in my own little home with the fat, happy kitties and the sleeping family.

I am surprised that the little boy didn’t wake up when I moved the car in and out of the garage.  The big metal door is right under his room and it’s not that quiet.

Last night we drove thirty miles in the rain for my nephew’s 8th birthday party.  It was totally worth it.  Kids are so funny when balloons and pizza and Pump It Up are involved.  Kudos to my sister-in-law for making it happen and for giving out the Pump-It-Up treat bags – these toys are great!

We built some extra time into our trip and stopped at Nothing Bundt Cakes on the way.  I know I’ve mentioned this place before, but it’s worth mentioning again.  And again.  And again.

I always think I’ve surely sampled the very best bundt they have to offer and then they offer me a sample of something else.  This time it was the white chocolate raspberry cake.  Oh.  My.  Heavens.  Scrumdidilicious.  Is that a word?  I bought one of those and two of my husband’s favorite, the chocolate with chocolate chips.

After tucking the bag of little cakes safely out of my reach, we headed for the party.  We were thirty minutes early.  To kill some time, I took the boy over to Walter Andersen Nursery across the road.  He didn’t want to go until I told him we could look at the Christmas Trees.  I think he might have driven himself after that.

I love wandering around nurseries at the holidays.  There are bright red flowers and cheery green trees and lots of wreaths and miniature trains.  The ornaments are just half price and the employees all seem full of joy and kindness.  I asked for the minimum yard of fresh pine garland at $1.99 a foot.  The clerk gave me two yards, charged me for one and slashed the price of that to just $1.50 for the lot of it.  Amazing.  The little boy picked out this huge beautiful glass acorn ornament for  just three bucks.  We love it.

We didn’t venture out into the yard of plants and flowers but the view of them in the dusky rain was magical.  The smell of the Christmas trees was intoxicating and caused us both to pause at the door a moment before skipping on through to the other side of the indoor showroom.  Not a bad way to spend an unexpectedly empty moment in a very busy week.  Next year, I might just schedule it in on purpose.

The party was a good ending to the little boy’s day.  He jumped in the bounce houses for an hour and a half, nibbled on a slice of pepperoni pizza, poked at a piece of birthday cake then turned to me and said “are you ready to go?”  His question was a directive.  He wanted me to ask him.  I did and we went.

Settling down after that sort of outing is little bit tough for us both.  The boy was up and out of his bed two or three times before finally crashing around 9:30.  That’s really late for him.  When I last looked at the clock, it said 12:35.  😦  Just four hours of sleep.  Early to the pillow tonight for sure!

Happy Tuesday!

P.S.  What’s on your agenda four days before Santa gets here?

♥♥