Saturday, November 17, 2007

Science Rules!

So, it looks like real women have curves and smarts. It's a bright spot in my day when I can find an expert* to affirm my reality.

*Expert found with help of hard-hitting news program, "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!"

What are you listening to?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

At The Holiday Starting Gate

I almost titled this post "Keeping Up Appearances", and I was also tempted to call it "I Told You The Housing Market Was Going to Get Ugly!" I guess there's just a lot on my mind, like sick children, missing school (as in not showing-up, not pining for school,) battling bitter depression about not having a house of our own, and the confounding task of balancing a simplified life with having the best holidays ever!

Now, some of you may think I shouldn't let it all hang out... the dirty laundry, the raw truth about life's challenges and frustrations, but I look at it as therapy and as a public service. I can voice all of my fears, doubts, insecurities and pettiness and then just accept that life is like that... messy and hard sometimes, then I can move on. And maybe there's another person out there, a tired mom, a disappointed, cranky, disillusioned person that just wants to know that it's OKay to feel down, to feel overwhelmed... let's face it, most of us will not achieve the Good Houskeeping Blue Ribbon for Fantastically Perfect Holiday Decorating, Baking, Caroling, Hosting and General Beauty and Hygiene. So, maybe my truth will help someone else feel amused, less isolated, or encouraged to keep trying.

First, I should admit I put the pressure on myself. I want the Beautiful Holiday Home, with snow in the yard and gingerbread coming out of the oven... it will never snow here! And keeping the whole house really clean, all the time, is almost as unlikely as building snowmen in our yard. I think it's safe to say I will not get around to sewing 6 stockings and making aprons for each of my friends. I doubt we will have a birthday party for Maria. And good grief... have you tried shopping China-free? It's nearly impossible, which is great from a money saving point, but I do not feel as though I am achieving one bit in a Save the Planet kind of way... it feels so futile.

Idealistic Me wants Homemade Holidays. I tried to save money and be a clever, artistic-homemaker-super-mom by making a pattern, so I could sew this beautiful apron, which is a delightful interpretation of this apron. My apron is wonky, weird, wrong and a waste of time and effort. "Not Martha" is already taken for a blog name, but truthfully, as far as Domestic Divas go, I am the Anti-Martha... the Sloppy Mom... the flying by the seat of my pants mom, laughing all the way mom with four coughing, hungry, bright and wonderful kids.

So, yes I threw the apron in a heap and kicked it, but I won't leave it there. Sometime this week I am going to pick it up and attack the waistband with my seam ripper (where is the seam ripper?) and I'll try again. It will never be as lovely as I imagine it could be... so, what's the point? I don't know... maybe it has something to do with never giving up, never surrendering. Maybe it's accepting mediocrity, with a knowing grin. Idealistic Me needs to be reminded that magazine covers are a beautiful illusion, a carefully crafted moment created by many skilled and paid hands, and that very few people ever accomplish everything without neglecting something else.

There is so much I hope to achieve and wish I could accomplish. There is so much I admire and... (dare I say?) envy. If I continue to focus on every ad and every craft article, and every suggestion that Christmas is better with new carpets and coordinated holiday outfits, I will no doubt feel crushed and defeated. I already have a mounting sense of dread about the holiday obstacle course and rush that is ahead, which is sad. So, I am going to improvise and remind myself to make a new focus... I want to eliminate fantasy visions. I want to witness the genuine moments, to embrace the joy in the mess, to celebrate life regardless of wonky seams and eggnog from a carton.

(Big cheers for Anna Maria Horner and her live appearance on The Martha Stewart Show! She shared a beautiful way to use fabric and paint, and she Kept it Real... admitting she has no time to make her bed! She hardly needs to be remembered for her remark about not making her bed, but I sure do appreciate her candor and humor.)

My Holiday List ...all points revokable and amendable:
1. homemade fruitcake
2. homemade tamales... maybe just a few
3. Christmas music... every day
4. Christmas cards... however many I can manage
5. lights on the house... not likely
6. driving around, looking at everyone else's lights... definitely!
7. A Christmas Eve party with candlelight, caroling and a cocktail bar
8. Us, singing carols in our pajamas... a little off-key, a little out of synch... my favorite
9. A tree and trimmings... most likely
10. Our traditional gingerbread house-hot glue gathering... daunting prospect, but always worthwhile
11. Sharing our blessings... very important
12. Ice skating... challenging endeavor
13. Travel... get real!
14. See the Rose Parade... you've waited 41 years, another year won't matter
15. Remembering the reason for the season and keeping it forefront in my heart and thoughts... imperative, not revokable
16. Relax... could save a life
17., 18., 19. and 20. Expect the unexpected and roll with it

Just Keeping it Real.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Giving Thanks

My last post has generated so many kind and thoughtful comments, I feel... I feel stuff I don't quite know how to express... It's pride, and honor, and gratitude and astonishment, amusement. Thank you for your praise and encouragement and feedback. Thank you for the world's kindest, most generous "Imaginary Thanksgiving Dinner Invitation"ever!... (and I accept... please set imaginary plates for 6 more, and save me a drumstick, please!) I know there are more elaborate blogs and blogs that get a few more visitors per hour. I have never focused on a particular theme or agenda, except to say this is what's happening with us, what's new with you? All I have ever wanted of Chickenblog is to share and to hear from interested people, so that a conversation could develop, so that we could enjoy an exchange. And now I have a terrific journal, which our own family enjoys and references, and I have more friends, new acquaintances, fellow bloggers, moms, crafters, cooks, gardeners, family and I just love hearing from all of you! I am lucky.

Immortalized in poetry, remembered fondly for carrying us safely to many destinations, across borders, in snow, heat, rain, off-road and across river beds: Our Big Blue Whale. Born in Wisconsin in 1995 and adopted by our family in 1997, Big Blue Whale was more than a mode of transport, it was a shelter, a safe haven, a wild ride. It endured many adventures. It never disappointed me... I always told Geoff that my expectations of it were so low, that it could never fail. I drove it for 6 years, and used it to make our big move to El Rancho, and on two adventurous trips to Mexico, + countless other road trips, and home improvement missions.

For the last couple of years I have begged Geoff to give up the Whale... the weird steering, bad smelling, self accelerating, weak brakes, door jamming, heat failing beast, with the busted driver's seat. The Whale gave us the best that it could, and now it has been donated away. May it bless its new owners with safe rides and good times.

Thank you Blue Whale.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Looking Back

Nine Hundred and Eighty-Four Pretty Good Posts

See that long list of dates in Chickenblog's sidebar? Those aren't randomly generated, they aren't pay per view ads... those represent the times I couldn't help but express my deep thoughts,

Max, Alex and William: December 31, 2002. Hawaii

share family news,

The Boys with Deanne: May 4, 2003. Legoland

congratulate friends,

Holly, Nick and Rich: June 13, 2003. El Rancho

pass along recipes,

Anne and Max: October 24, 2003: The TreeHouse

announce a birth,

Alex and Tamsyn: March 30, 2004

beg for help,

Sam, James and Deanne: December 21, 2004

feeling the love

or to promote world, and local peace.

Geoff, Maria and Natalie: March 27, 2005

I never imagined I would keep it up for this long or that it would matter to me as much as it does... I certainly dragged my feet, when Geoff suggested I start a blog. My first post was just a fanciful daydream, meant to convince Geoff that I would give blogging an earnest go. In those early days, blogging could be supremely aggravating... oh, wait, it can still be supremely aggravating!

William, Geoff, Maria, Max, Nancy, Alex, Rich, Sophie, Lily, Nick, Phil. Kayla and Holly: June 12, 2005. The TreeHouse

I am glad Geoff insisted I blog. We have a colorful journal of the last five years, with photos, and remembrances, silliness, frustrations, and a lot of happy reflections. I am glad Holly makes tasteful banners, so Chickenblog can look polished and inviting. I am glad that, very recently, more than 2 people have discovered Chickenblog and they have joined the conversation, shared the laughs... blogging is so about dialogue and connections. I am glad that my friend Anna Banana is blogging too... she and I appreciate how cool it is to keep track of things that matter and to amuse ourselves with stuff that probably matters very little.

Alex, Alison, Dominic, Bill, Max and William: June 30, 2007

All this gladness cannot be contained... Geoff has been nudging me: You better get busy making a 1000th post contest to celebrate. I was remembering my very first contest, when I asked readers to identify something the cat coughed-up... that was April 26, 2003, but no one took a chance at my grand prize offer (too bad the Grand Prize was a pony and a Hawaiian cruise... too late now.) But now we can have a new contest, and I will think up a new grand prize, so sharpen your pencils, put on your party hat, and be on the look out for the 1,000th Chickenblog post.