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Sunday, December 30, 2007

longing

I hopped into Borders yesterday to grab a calendar, preferably not one with a ferret and his drum set. I milled around with the other dozen desperate folks, thumbing through the 50% off castoffs until I found a decent one stashed beneath a stack of Krazy Kats, 2008.

I wandered around, and realized I really don't know this store anymore. New, taller shelves have cropped up; displays have moved. The password to the employee look up system, far better than the customer program, has been changed.

I am locked out of my old world.

I said goodbye to the only face I still recognized there and hurried home.

I hung my new calendar, my sharpie in hand. I started marking it up and sighing big exhausted sighs.

I stood back and looked at my obligations, the path I have chosen.

My gut reaction: I'm a little off-track. I crinkled my nose, and started thinking of the things I'd like to leave behind, come the new year.

And though I am a world weary and tired right now, somehow these thoughts lightened my load.

I can't wait for what is yet to come, to discover where this dissatisfaction leads.
****

Friday, December 28, 2007

be still, bubster - we are missing a piece

The day after Christmas, I sat the kids down to explain the returns line and my desire - my profound yearning - to hear little to no whining while we wasted a perfectly good day purchased batteries for new toys.

Complaining (I'm looking at you, Zack) would lead to the shiny new beloved toys being locked away until I wanted to see them again.

A day that may never come.

We returned home, the civil unrest quelled. I understood the excitement - I am nearly manic myself this time of year, impatient for the new year to begin. But for now, for this week, I am mired down with this head of mine, the post-holiday clean up. I did my best laundress imitation and used the mounds of clothes as an excuse to watch The Namesake. My Big Plans would have to wait.



Soon, I was swept up from the debris, the thank you cards, waiting to be written. I was hanging out with Gogol, seeing the Taj Mahal.



I paused the movie, to take what was supposed to be a quick break to grab some tea, when my boy asked if he can start putting together his lego-y Pirates of the Carribbean ship. And I agreed, because I am stupid and think he is brilliant and doesn't need my help. Surely he could raise the mighty ship while I sequestered Christmas socks.

it did say 8+

What, with it's...235 pieces.

You see where this was leading, right?

Zack and I bonded and built a home for our beloved Jack Sparrow, until it was time for dinner.
jack sparrow (he came assemblied)

I was humbled by my utter lack of lego skillz.

(2008: the year of the novel and Mega Blok lessons?)

*****

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

for every toy, there is a wire

We were greeted by this sunrise and squealing kids.

greg woke up to this

It even snowed! (There was a 1% chance of snowfall on Christmas in the Portland area.)

I repeat: IT SNOWED

Here's a picture of my family, at my Mom and Dad's place:

christmas day 2

(And yes. I cropped my booty off in this picture. It was alarming. No one needs to see that, especially after prying toys out of packages.)

Now I'm off to clean up around here, put together a Bionicle (!) and play with my new tripod.

{More pictures here. And wordless here.}

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

waiting & watching

Zack was up, before dawn. He's the boy in the commercials, anxious to roll out the day. I fed the dog and he's admiring his roller skates, straight off the sleigh.

I'm trying to distract him with A Christmas Story, in a steady 24 hour stream from TBS.

I think I've got 5 minutes before he pounces on Lexi.

So, Merry Christmas my fair friends, from far and wide. May your day be peaceful & bright.

flake, 2

~Lisa

Monday, December 24, 2007

happy birthday

While we are all hustling and bustling, my Mom is quietly celebrating her birthday. It's a tough day to get the special treatment she deserves.

Ammy at the mother's day party

She is the heart and soul of the family; the kids adore her.

Caden and Ammy

We hope she has a peaceful, calm birthday. She deserves it more than ever.

in front of the Big House at Ft. Vancouver

{Happy birthday, Mom. Love you. I wrote almost the exact same thing last year.}

Sunday, December 23, 2007

red, the better to celebrate

Would it be considered sinful sinning if a certain couple bloggers took up someone's secret boyfriend? I think it would fall under 'coveting', though I am not an expert.

(I came bearing meds and hoping for the best and Sweeney Todd delivered the heebie-jeebies and laughs. Genius, if you can cope with buckets of blood.)

______
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pick your own post

What's that you say? You don't have time to read blogs right now?

Bummer.

I've got two for you to today, to suit your mood:

First up: Happy Santa Visit, with a side of snark. (Not too grumpy, all considering.)
OR

Christmas option #2: Debbie Downer

My migraine has officially morphed into a cluster headache. It struck me fast and knocked me to the couch. I wish I was kidding. I've had a few years since the last cluster; it's been precisely two years.

So, I'm taking some pills and I will make a Christmas Eve trip to urgent care for more treatment; more drugs to keep on hand.

What I want to say? Please give me a big bucket of narcotics. Drug me up so I won't feel the next headache. But, as you can imagine, demanding drugs leads to trouble. Damn.

*****
Pre-headache, my Mom and Grandma came to church with me this morning. I hope the carols brought them some relief; their hearts are heavy.
There are stories I want to tell you, but they aren't mine alone. My puzzle piece burns my hands and keeps me in tears.

I'm combing through memories; bracing for the storm.


I am certain we can't outrun the past; it is always with us.

Christmas option #1: Santa Visit

We stepped into the mall and well, I expected it to suck. I've been accosted by old men at Micheals (what were they doing there anyway); my crowd aversion was in bloom.

But this mall was quiet, upstaged by the kickier, newer places.

When we got to Santa, Lexi crinkled her nose and expressed some concern over being seen with the ol' fella. I reminded her that we drove out of state, the coast was clear, so please, be a kid one more year.

She smiled and said she would give me another year. And how could I complain when she pointed out how bizarre it is to ask her to sit on some strange man's lap.

I really couldn't refute her argument.

He took his time, chatted with them for at least 10 minutes.

He was kind; Zack was ecstatic. We paid the fine people and bought tokens for the carousel.

I held on to my painted pony, and turned to look behind me. The kids were laughing, the wind blowing through their hair.
As the years tumble by, I want to keep this night and recall their faces, lit up and holy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

x marks the spot

Here is where my perky post was going to go: right here.

But I've been dancing with a migraine this morning, and my ability to write/cope is diminished.

(And Lexi's last minute 'I'm-supposed-to-bring-chips-and-dip-today' request isn't helping. I love her with all the appropriate organs, but really child. Must you? Today?)

This too will pass and I'll be back.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

down to the nitty gritty

We are down to days, petunia, days before Christmas and I still have miles to go. I yanked the kids out of school Monday and Tuesday, so they could spend a few nights with my parents and my Grandma. Zack was horrified by my lack of respect for authority, my sheer disregard for the law, boy howdy. But this is part of bringing up Spock. I am forever teaching him to bend, just a little.

(Who came up with only one weekend off before Christmas? I'm protesting.)

Greg has been gone for part of each week since Thanksgiving and this week is no exception. I struggle striking a balance between seeing my extended family and making sure the kids are around when Greg steps in the door.

I juggle and sweat and do my best, but often, something has to give.

This time school took a hit.

Greg and I shopped for the kids Sunday and had dinner together, just the two of us. Greg picked I Am Legend Monday night, because zombies make spirits bright, don't cha know? I am taking the kids to see Santa tonight, and I might start breathing easier.

{Maybe. I still have a bajillion homeless Christmas cards in my possession, mocking me.}

so be good for goodness sake

Cecil was celebrating his 85th birthday when I was his wrangler, bodyguard. He grew his own beard; his wife's cooking provided the padding.

We navigated Father Christmas breakfast with bratty privileged kids, reciting their demands; breakfast with sick kids and kids asking for a Christmas tree.

His wet blue eyes would fix on me: What should he say to the boys and girls who knew not to ask for anything?

We passed the lulls in the Santa action, talking about his wife, his grandkids; my college courses, my roommates. The stories are lost on me now; the impression he left, his gentleness, stayed with me.

Other times, we'd gather up a basket of candy canes and walk around downtown, an ostensible effort to strum up business, support the mighty dollar. But Cecil didn't give a fig about such nonsense. No, he had an agenda. I would stand back while he chatted with street kids and gave them treats.

I wish I could snapped their pictures.

Cecil gave me a card on my 21st birthday; I still have it somewhere. He taped 21 pennies into a 21 inside, for good luck.

He grinned when I opened it, so excited for me to see what he had done.

And this many years later, I think about him at Christmas - when I am panicky and grouchy and hating this season. I slow down.

It's good knowing I've got a Santa, watching over me.
*****
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

advent

stage frightLexi's first exhibit

Bragfest, the holiday edition, continues: This just in.

Lexi's baby Jesus manger painting was framed and on display today during services. And Zack made his Mama proud when he delivered his line on stage like a champ this morning.

(The kajillion hours of speech therapy paid off.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

morning

Morning has broken; Zack climbs on me, announces it is 6:57. His tone implies he finds my ridiculous behavior - recumbent in the dark - appalling.

I pull him in closer.

Thoughts form, free fall: unfinished Christmas cards, my messy house, dinner & dates with Jen & Stephanie, Juno - oh please go see Juno - journals and lotions and the book I'm reading...

Inches above me, Zack implores me to get up. My nose recalls the cold I'm kicking to the curb.

Lexi walks in and buys me a few more minutes. Soon I'll roll out of bed and pour the coffee and the day will unfold.

But some mornings it's hard to get up when the staying down was working quite nicely for me, thank you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

my secret is out: scotcharoos

The holiday sadness has lifted; now, on to the chocolate! More sugar, please.

Dear friends, I am going to pass on an easy recipe, one that's a cinch with kids. The best part: I get requests for these puppies all the time.

Of course, you won't be nearly as impressed when you find out just how lazy I am.


Scotcharoos


1 cup of sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups butterscotch chips

*Combine sugar and syrup in heavy saucepan.
*Heat, stirring, to boiling.
*Remove from heat.
*Stir in peanut butter.
*Pour syrup mixture over Rice Krispies in large mixing bowl.
(This is where I supposed to warn you: IT WILL BE HOT. But you knew that, didn't you? You have to work quickly, to cover all the Krispies.)
*Mix thoroughly with wooden spoon.
*Press into greased 13x9x2 pan.
*Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together over low heat or in double boiler. (I prefer ghirardelli chips. They melt easily; I haven't burned them like I'm prone to do.)
*Stir well.
*Pour melted chips over Krispies; spread evenly.
*Allow to cool. Cut into 1" squares.

(Sometimes I cut the sugar down, used Rice Syrup to be slightly healthier.)

I usually give some away, before I inhale them because kids and coworkers alike can't resist.

What kind of treats do you make this time of year?

and it came to pass

I entertained several ideas for today's post, but alas, I am running on considerably less brain cells than I was just yesterday - I'm taking it easy.

I'm headed to Peet's for coffee this morning to celebrate with my family and Greg will be home tonight.

And.


I'm seeing Juno with Bad Mom & Jen B. tomorrow evening.

For me, this is celebrating BIG, folks. Yeehaw.

*****


For those of you who need a little laughter, this one's on me. Yes. I got a cold for my birthday.

(This was my real gift from Greg. I have an iPod like all the cool kids now.)

And here's my shot for the year; 37. I am so blessed.

(PS: Happy 5th birthday, Austin. Aunt Sissy loves you.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

little bit blue (my emo streak continues)

It started when the bus swept the kids up early and I didn't get to say good-bye. I had been doodling around on my laptop doing Very Important Motherly Things when I scooted out the door to see the bus turn the corner.

My kids were fine; they are well-loved and cared for. But my heart sank.

It continued when I opened up my google reader and I read Flutter's touching post, picking out the least skanky Bratz doll for the giving tree (it's a Christmas miracle!) or Beck's wistful post about her family being complete and finished.

I pictured the little boy in foster care in our neighborhood, that hangs out with us a lot. I pictured Bubby's toothless grin; our baby days are behind us.

I continued the cryfest from the night before.

I just feel so helpless. It's the coat drives, and food drives, and toy drives - we give to them all. But what about the other 11 months out of the year?

These thoughts rip me up.

*****

By evening, my make-up had been repaired; a calm came over me.
I have to believe that our efforts matter; small good deeds make a difference.

I choose to try, to love, to give.

With a runny nose, and red eyes, but still.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hi. My name is Lisa & I cry at concerts.




I admit it: I nearly choked trying to hold it together. I thought my heart was going to burst.

{Or maybe it was the two layers under my jeans, cutting my circulation off.}

I'm a sucker for pretty lights and carolers...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

let your heart be light

We were huddled in the dark, letting the subaru stretch, when I heard Lexi whimpering.

"Things are never going to be the same. Our time with Ammy and Papa."

I sat quietly, my mind racing towards something comforting to say, something to refute the obvious. But she was right: My Grandma has moved into what was once my room, and the burden feels heavy, even to my 4th grader.

Lexi adores my parents, loves staying with them in the 'country'. She chose extracurriculum activities during the school week, just so she could spend many weekends in the fall with Ammy, sewing, baking, talking her ear off.

The first planned sleepover was halted by a phone call; my Mom in a panic, racing my Grandma to the ER.

(She spent the next two months closing my Grandma's business, living away from my Dad.)

Nothing turned out like Lexi had hoped. It's a big lesson to learn.

I didn't try to spin it, feed her some hogwash. I let her cry, grieve over the summer she had, when she was the center of my Mom's world. And then we turned to what is and we dialed the phone number I've known all my life and set up an sleepover for next week.

_____

We had dinner with my family last night, after my nephew's fabulous superhero birthday party and a prefunct celebration of my own. (On my 32nd birthday, I witnessed my nephew come into the world. Amazing.)

My Grandma was perched, ready to spring into action, take over. She's biding her time, declawed, waiting to take over again. Like it's a bad dream.


I wish she was kinder. She isn't.
_____
I was listening to some morose Carpenters' Christmas CD. I turned it off, enjoyed the silence. When I looked up again, it had started to snow.


The solitude was punctuated with squeals.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

clever title featuring the number 8

Ms. Cami has given me much to celebrate: an award (oh, to balance beer on my forehead) and a meme to share with you. Are you ready?

First the award:

Rumor has it I can share the joy, and bestow it on you. But not today. I'm up to meme-ing and that's about it. Your day will come.

8 things I am passionate about: (See how I just jumped straight to the meme? No transition in sight...I think my brain is broken with holiday cheer.)

  1. Greg and Lexi and Zack. I never knew I would love being a wife & mother, the way I do.
  2. my extended family - we are small in numbers, big on sticking together
  3. my friends that feel like family
  4. writing, words
  5. spiritual things (I don't know how else to phrase it. For me, this includes: going to a church I love, going on quiet walks, listening to passionate music, doing yoga, prayer & having coffee with friends.)
  6. justice
  7. cooking & baking
  8. art - photography, paint, beads, paper. I need to make time for it in 2008

8 things I want to do before I die:

  1. grow old with Greg (sorry Cami, I took this straight from you)
  2. know my kids, see them grow strong & happy
  3. publish a novel, perhaps I should write it first, no?
  4. go to Vermont, to see the foliage
  5. go back to school
  6. I must not be very ambitious, I'm struggling with this list
  7. Sometimes I think I would love to give one sermon, use that education I got years ago
  8. Most times I know I don't; I am right where I am supposed to be.

8 things I say often:

  1. "What are you doing?" Yes, this is the first thing I say on the phone. Because I am rude.
  2. "Oosshie bookiee..." When something is too precious it's the sound I make. I can't spell it. It's often used in a snarky way (see also: mocking). Now my hubs & kids do it.
  3. "Do you know I love you?" Lexi just added this one for me.
  4. "You're my best boy/girl." Have they figured out they are my only boy/girl? Sure. They still like it.
  5. "My eyeballs will bleed." This phrase explains to my kids why I can't watch certain movies with them. It's also used to plead for the bickering to stop.
  6. "Chop chop chicken" Lexi also reminded me of this one. It's a call to move it.
  7. "Stop it, Sophie." Our dog hates me. She whines outside, I bring her in. She whines in the house, I let her out. But I'm more likely to beg her to stop.
  8. "Remember that one time on Buffy?" Ok, I don't say that specifically but I reminisce a little too much about the slayer. I'm one step away from attending conferences.

8 books I read recently:

  1. When We Get There - debut by Shauna Seliy. I love reading first time novelists.
  2. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World - Isa Chandra Moskowitz. So pretty, so lovely, so edible.
  3. Holidays on Ice: Stories, on CD - David Sedaris. Dear David, I love you.
  4. Spunk & Bite - Arthur Plotnik. Me wants to write good.
  5. The Used World - Haven Kimmel.
  6. Gaining: The Truth about Life After Eating Disorders - Aimee Lui.
  7. Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion - Sara Miles.
  8. Watercolor magazine. It's time I pick up a paintbrush again.

8 songs I could listen to over & over again:

  1. Old, mournful hymns. They speak to me and make me sound like I'm 80.
  2. River, by Joni Mitchell
  3. Badmotorfinger, Soundgarden (entire CD)
  4. Whip-Smart, Liz Phair (entire CD, w/o little Milton ears around. Reminds me of my early 20s.
  5. Keith Green. Most passionate, hippy Christian around. His songs make me cry.
  6. We Got the Beat, Go-Gos. It's my inner 10 year old. She also likes 'Mickey'.
  7. I got nothing. I like a wide range of songs. I am failing.
  8. Oh, how about Ave Maria? My favorite Christmas song.

8 things that attract me to my best friends:

  1. sense of humor
  2. brains
  3. integrity
  4. passionate
  5. kind
  6. independent
  7. playfulness
  8. loyalty

8 people who should totally do this meme: (when holiday cheer doesn't make their "eyeballs bleed")

  1. Stephanie
  2. Kate
  3. Daisy
  4. Jessalee
  5. Nat
  6. JCK
  7. Lori
  8. Kimberly

Mama Milton's meme policy: If you want to play along, please do. If you don't & wish I would stop tagging you already, I understand. I'm easy like a Sunday morning. Which is often a ridiculous statement at my house, but the sentiment stands. You likey Memey, you do. You not likey, you tell me.


Friday, December 07, 2007

words

runs in the blood
While I yammered on about my hair, my girl was busy writing a short story. For fun. Will you forgive me if I brag? Because I have to say it: she has a way with words.

She read her tale aloud, and I could hear Spinelli's Stargirl bleeding through, time spent imitating someone she admires.

Zack joined her and asked me how to spell 'ordinary', because his characters, Jackie and Rick (I can't remember who was powerful and who was smart now), were 'not ordinary at all'.

And believe me, I know the feeling.
*****
being jolly is hard

Zack, exhausted by his Santa duties: "Well Mom, not near as many people chased me at recess today to tell me what they wanted for Christmas, but I was kinda disappointed because I like it when I wear my hat and they chase me, except Kylee still chases me because she wants a black laptop. I told her she needed to wait until she is 13."

Don't believe the rumors: boys can be chatty too.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

restless hair syndrome

A few years ago, I lost a bunch of hair. And by bunch, I mean I considered knitting grotesque Barbie sweaters and calling myself Kojak.

I took consolation where I could and looked into wigs and scarves - maybe I'd try being a blonde for a while - and thankfully, my hair started coming back.

I promptly began growing my locks out because I could.


*sigh*

Lately I haven't been digging my hair. I haven't been doing anything with it, and it shows.

mrs. milton smells funny


Maybe it's not that bad, but close. ( Stephanie might disown me for the Redskins bandana alone.)
I've become fond of baseball caps.

Greg's subie girl

Maybe I should try to channel Mandy Moore again.
Or Rene. Oh to look like Rene.
Keep the length, but go funky like Mae?
It just occurred to me where Lexi's hair drama comes from. I'm so ashamed...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

talking to steroids; it's what I do

Dear Prednisone,

I thought of you today, as I poured over recipes, made plans to bake. Boy, we used to have so much fun in the good old days, when I'd tuck the kids in bed and we'd crank up the tunes while I churned out dozens of cookies, batches of candy. There was ribbon and frantic laughter and pans everywhere. We were blue ribbon housewife go-getters, you and me.

I didn't mind the mess. We'd clean it up, and take a little nap before we'd catch up on our reading in the quiet, while my family slept.

We had some good times.

But now we've grown apart. It was bound to happen. Please don't be angry. The withdrawal is hard on me too. It's just time I move on with life, fit in my jeans again.

I want you to know you were a lifesaver, made my days sweeter for a time.

You go your way, I'll go mine.

Now excuse me while I make some coffee. Breaking up is hard to do.

~Lisa Milton

{Yes, I figured it out. I'm cutting out the steroids, and as predicted, I am a little tired. Zack and I muddled through Lexi's rehearsal - he spent 2 hours drawing Santa pictures - and I paid bills and filled out the census paperwork. I feel lighter today.}

going postal

going postal

Craving solitude? Get Wordless; it's Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

warning: tired & cranky

Voila! My laptop is up again. I couldn't connect all afternoon, and with my personal IT out of town, I was feeling a bit panicky. I finally took matters in my own hands, rolled around the floor, played with wires last night.

I'm ever so pleased.

But now, I can't play here long. My house scares even slobby me; the kids and I all have dentist appointments today and Lexi's choir is rehearsing tonight for their upcoming holiday schedule.

The US Census Bureau did their part, to keep me on my toes, and treated us to a fat survey. It says we must DO IT RIGHT AWAY.

[Now with legal ramifications...]

I'm not pleased.

I'll be back with holiday cheer, as soon as I figure out where I misplaced it.
*****
I almost forgot: I won Beanpaste's Elliebean giveaway over the weekend. See, I'm perking up. You might want to check out Melanie's EtsyShop too. It can chase away the bah-humbugs.

Monday, December 03, 2007

stupid inappropriate talk time

We beat the storm home last night, before the roads were closed due to high winds and pick up sticks across the highway. My kids met me at the door, ooey and gooey with affection.

When it came time for bed, Lexi stomped her foot and declared: "Why? So you two can have stupid! inappropriate! talk! time!?" Oh, the drama.

Greg and I grinned and patted her poor neglected little head and turned her to her room.

My departure seemed to cure surly daughter disease.