Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry and bright

We are standing in a rest area on the southbound side of the New York State Thruway somewhere in the Catskill Region. It is Sunday – the last official day of “Christmas” week, a.k.a. the first official day of “New Year’s” week, depending on how you choose to look at it, and it seems everyone has someplace to get to today.

The rest stop is jammed with weary looking travelers – strung out from several days of holiday merriment. Late nights. Perhaps tense moments between visitors and hosts. Too much of everything: sugar, food, alcohol.

And as I know, the drone of highway driving is not helping. Everyone looks like they’ve been through some type of trauma and the line for Starbucks – where my husband is standing – is long and slow-moving.

The restrooms are in the back, there is a small news/convenience store on the right and a string of fast food chains on the left. The coffee line cuts right down the middle.

Most of the people in the rest stop are dressed in dark, winter colors – blacks, grays and navys.

My daughters are the exception to the rule. They are clad head to toe in bright pink and lavender. Peanut’s outfit includes a fuchsia top, a bright pink tulle skirt with silver sparkles, hot pink tights, hot pink leg warmers with silver thread running through them and brand-new pink ballet flats with glitter all over them.

Loaf is dressed in a lavender top and matching – extremely puffy – tulle fairy skirt, hot pink tights with light pink hearts all over them and light pink Mary Jane’s that also sparkle.

I find myself wishing my camera was not packed away in the car under 200 pounds of Christmas gifts.

In the middle of this sea of dreary, they spin like two music box ballerinas. They hop and whirl, burning off energy they’ve accumulated sitting in the car for the last 75 minutes.

They look like two peonies in June, or maybe bookmarked characters from Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy.

They are, quite frankly, a sight, and my fellow travelers cannot help but notice them.

Some smile. Some point and giggle. Some just watch – blankly – in a sort-of drugged, seven-mile stare, and I’m not sure if they even see them.

My daughters don’t care. They are wearing their new fancy Christmas clothes and regardless of the fact that they stand in a crowded, weary, only moderately clean rest stop in a rural section of New York State – they are filled with joy and life.

I’m happy to see that the holiday spirit has not left them yet, and I hope it hasn’t gone for you either.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday season!


Monday, December 14, 2009


So I looked at the calendar today and do you know what it said?

Somehow, it is December 14.

I am not at all sure how that happened because, like, yesterday, it was Thanksgiving. And the day before that it was Halloween. And just a couple of weeks before that we were swimming and picnicking and chasing fireflies under warm July skies.

I’ve had a crazy roller coaster year at work. All summer I felt like I was falling in and endless trough there – faster and faster toward some unknown oblivion ¬– and then somehow, finally, things are back on track. I’m drowning in work lately, which is a good thing in nearly every way except that elements of my personal life are unraveling like a cheap Christmas sweater.

Somehow, I’ve managed to get a fair amount of holiday preparations done, but when I still think of all I have left to do – baking and wrapping and a trip to see Santa live and in-person – I feel a little woozy.

Mark and the girls––my God--they are my salvation. For every second they might make me crazy there are 1,000 more when they pull me back from the brink. I am truly blessed.

Today, I had to drive out to Pennsylvania for a meeting over two hours away. Sitting in the car in some seriously snarly traffic on the way back, I could feel the stress level rising. So. Much. To. Do. I don’t have time to sit in traffic. I don’t have these minutes to spare.

But sitting there, I found my mind wandering back to them. Mark’s sweet boyishness, Peanut’s beautiful bright eyes, Loaf’s million-watt smile. I thought of them at home – imagined what they might be doing without me. And before I knew it, I was home.

I tiptoed up the hall and slowly opened Peanut’s door. She was still awake—barely. Loaf on the other hand was jovial – bouncing on her bed and delaying putting on her jammies.

Cries of “Mommy!” Small arms thrown around my neck. Smootchy kisses on my cheeks. School recaps and sweet smiles.

Another day over.

So much to do.

And so much to look forward to.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

A Thanksgiving Story . . . more than a week later

By now, the Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone and everyone has moved on to Christmas.

But wait! WAIT! I never shared my Thanksgiving story. I never told you all how Thanksgiving morning - four hours before 11 people were supposed to show up and expect a turkey and all the trimmings on a lace tablecloth with damask napkins and four kinds of homemade pie - the pluming in our house IMPLODED.


I walked up the hall at 8 a.m. and there was Mark, standing over a toilet with water filled Right. Up. To. The. Brim.

So I did what any hostess would do under the circumstances. I left the house to run a Turkey Trot 5K while he tried to snake out the clog.

(And I need to mention here that my mother-in-law arrived Wednesday night to get dinner going in the morning so that I could run in said Turkey Trot. She rocks).

But I digress.

So I go off to trot with the turkeys and give the home situation very little thought. After all, I have two young children who use 17 times the toilet paper necessary every time they sit their dainty butts on the loo. I assumed (and you know what happens when you assume) that the problem would be rectified toot sweet.

Except, it wasn't.

When I arrived home 90 minutes later, the first thing I saw was Loaf, fully dressed. The second thing I saw was the back of the van wide open and loaded with suitcases. Oh. Crap. (Not literally, but close enough).

Mark met me at the door and explained that every drain in the house had stopped working. Nothing was going down anywhere. And to make things even more fun, water was pouring out of the ceiling in the garage.


Fortunately, my brother- and sister-in-law stepped up to the plate and Saved Thanksgiving! Unfortunately, they live an hour away.

Have you ever moved an entire Thanksgiving feast an hour away on Thanksgiving day? Well let me tell you, it is quite the feat.

My mother-in-law had already taken the bird and left because getting that sucker in the oven was of primo importance. None of us really wanted to eat dinner at 9 p.m. In the meantime, Mark and I packed up the rest of the food: trays of sweet potatoes, pies, potatoes for mashing, a huge salad, a vat of salad dressing, as well as all the condiments, sauces, spices, beverages and trimmings we'd need for the meal.

And in what can only be called a Thanksgiving miracle, we managed to remember everything but a few pears I was going to slice and toss into the salad (it didn't need them anyway).

We then drove both cars (so Mark could come back at the crack of dawn to meet the plumber on Friday) to the relative's house.

Thanksgiving was a resounding success and the next day we found out that the problem was just a tree root that had grown into one of the main pipes. (Nice timing tree. Really. Thanks a lot).

But all in all, it could have been SO MUCH worse. We may not have found a backup host so quickly. It could have happened AFTER the guests arrived. It could have been thousands of dollars in repairs. So overall, I ended up being pretty thankful anyway.

OK. Phew. Got that one in. On to Christmas . . . .

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