December 30, 2009


Word came today. On Monday, December 28, our final judgment became official - with the right names this time.

Which means that after 469 days ...
67 weeks ...
11,256 hours ...
675,360 minutes ...
40,521,600 seconds ...

I'm not in limbo anymore.

Good news. Good, destressing, forward-moving, happy-making news.

Happy New Year. I think I'll sleep now.

December 27, 2009

Veggie Girl vs. The Fish

I know, I know, I just posted yesterday. But can I just tell you how much my diva rocks?

My beautiful diva has recently decided that there is no food that is not worth trying at least once. She's tried cauliflower, cooked carrots, brussels sprouts. She loved them all. Yes, even the brussels sprouts. That's how awesome she is.

Well, this girl today tried salmon for the first time. Rubbed gently with butter, baked at 450, with a lemon squeezed over the top when it came out of the oven.

She was eager to try it. Seriously. Eager.

Before she took a single bite, though, do you know what she did? She very politely asked to be excused. Then she walked over to the little bulletin board next to the fridge, pulled down my list of ocean-friendly fish, and read, word for complicated word, about the ocean-friendliness of our Alaskan salmon.

"That all means it's good, right, Mom?"

I hugged her on the spot.

Days in limbo: 468. Days of loving my daughter: 2,889. She wins :-)

Smiling Eyes

Today marks 467 days in limbo.

It's also the day after Christmas.

The kids and I, we had an awesome Christmas morning full of magic and hugs and a ginormous holiday breakfast, with pretty much everyone's favorites - pancakes for the diva, fruit smoothies for my redhead, and a truckload of sausage and bacon for my protein-starved Aspie. Then, the three of them went cheerfully off with their dad for dinner. They're staying with him through the weekend, so I am sitting here quietly, appreciating the lights on the tree and the chance to sleep in.

This is my second single-parent Christmas, so I'm a little more used to coping on my own. While we didn't get our tree up until Christmas Eve - I'm blaming the East Coast blizzard for that - I did manage a few other things. We baked cookies, including my favorite eggnog cookies. I ordered holiday cards and got them in the mail before the New Year. (That's a personal best, by the way - I once sent out Christmas cards with hearts and shamrocks on the envelopes.)

And, after a few years off, I made calendars.

These are photo calendars, a kind of year in review that I have made, on occasion, for my family. Most of these folks are pretty far away, so the calendars were a nice way to bring the kids into their day-to-day. I'd take the best pictures of my kids from the past year and put them in, month by month, with each month capturing the kids from exactly a year before.

And so, I built my calendars. January, and my diva's 7th birthday. April, with the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC. Our trip to Seattle last July and August. Snow in December.

And I saw something.

Last January, the kids were pensive, sad, with smiles that didn't quite reach their eyes. February, March, it's more of the same.

By summer, though, you start to see a change. A twinkle, sometimes. A real smile or two. And by fall, it's crystal clear. The kids are not just smiling. They're happy. Really, really happy.

And I'd never have noticed if I hadn't laid all the pictures out like that, chronologically.

This level of change, with the separation, and soon (I hope!) the divorce - it's not easy, even if it's for the best. But I'm so so proud of these little people. They've come through it. They held hands and they hugged each other and they got through it.

And they're happy. Really, really happy.

Know what? I am too.

So here. Have an eggnog cookie on me :-)

Eggnog Cookies*

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (even better if it's freshly grated)
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups butter, softened
1/2 cup eggnog
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
1 tbs ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer to form a grainy paste. Add eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets (parchment paper helps), 1 inch apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until bottoms turn light brown. Transfer to cool, flat surface immediately with a spatula.

* Thank you, Mrs. Fields!

December 20, 2009

Snowed In

I've got insomnia. Or, as my sister calls it, can'tgotobednia. She's noted - quite accurately - that real insomnia means you lie awake all night. That's not my problem. I'd sleep, if I went to bed. I just don't go to bed.

This weekend, I found a cure.

It was a Not My Weekend (as in, the nearly ex has the kids and I have a bit of me time). And it started poorly, with my redhead screaming in terror about having to go to dad's house. Apparently the zombies who can't drive live at dad's house. So he was dragged out to the car clutching his blankie and screaming blue murder.

Cue big ole stressed out mushy mom tears. And a stressed out mom, for the record, is a mom who can't sleep.

But I had plans to meet an old friend for a festive holiday dinner. So I ignored the stress, put on my new favorite dress (it's amazing what a good dress can do for a girl's mood) and headed out - to a whole other state, in fact - to meet my friend at The Best Restaurant Ever.

We walked in for an amazingly good meal of coq au vin, with cocoa in the vin (which sounds a bit scary but it's really rich and spectacular), polished off with decadent coconut cake.

We walked out into the start of "snopocalypse." The Great Blizzard of 2009. Snow everywhere. Slippy, slidy, really not drivable snow.

My friend graciously offered me a place to stay. I accepted.

And I slept. Soundly. All night long.

Woke up at 9:30. Looked at the 8 inches of snow on the ground. Went back sleep.

Woke up at 1:00. Looked at the 12 inches of snow on the ground. Made pancakes. Sat down to watch the Tar Heels. Fell asleep before they lost.

Woke up for dinner. My friend lives mere blocks from an Irish pub that believes a blizzard is a silly reason to shut its doors. So we braved the elements and about 2 feet of snow for beef stew and Black and Tans, then headed back to watch The Best Star Wars Movie Ever.

I fell asleep right after Yoda lifted Luke's X-wing out of the swamp on Dagobah and woke up just in time for the credits.

My friend asked me if I'd have trouble sleeping that night after sleeping all day.

Nope. Slept like a rock.

I woke up, at last, at 10:30 this morning.

Blizzards are stress. It took us nearly 3 hours of heavy lifting to dig out. On the long drive home, I saw more than 10 cars spun into snow drifts and each other. My own town - boonie burg that it is - hasn't yet been plowed. At all. Schools in our area are closed tomorrow, two full days after the snowfall.

But I'm relaxed. I'm happy. Because I slept. I slept and slept and slept.

Apparently, snow cures can'tgotobednia.

Is it wrong to hope for a blizzard every day?

PS: Today marks day 461 in limbo ... and counting

December 11, 2009

Limbo Rock

I was supposed to be done this week. Out of Limbo. Into the world. Actually and finally divorced. Unmarried. Single. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Not gonna happen.

See, it goes like this. We go see the Examiner. She takes 15 minutes of her incredibly valuable time to ask embarrassing and deeply personal questions. She writes up an opinion. She sends it to my lawyer, who has me review it. Oops! I say. This examiner, she's misspelled the family name. Everywhere. So we tell her. She files the papers. We get the final judgment.

She never fixed the name.

Seriously? How on earth does that happen? Did she not like my check? Can she not read?

Now some other poor couple is walking around divorced. They don't even know it. And I've got to wait another 30 days while the papers are refiled and reofficialized.

30 days.

Cue heartfelt and fairly graphic cussing.

The nearly ex and I separated on September 15, 2008 (and not a moment sooner, despite opinions to the contrary). I've been sitting in limbo, waiting, for 451 days. Yes, I'm sure. I counted.

So, really, what's another 30?

I baked a big ol' pan of brownies. If I have to wait, I'm having chocolate.

December 6, 2009

Don't Let the Zombies Drive the Bus

For more than three weeks now, my redhead has approached bedtime in a blind panic. This was far more than the typical "I'm not going to bed so I'm having a tantrum" willfulness. I've seen enough of that to know the difference. This was fear.

Fear of zombies, specifically.

Turns out, right around Halloween, the nearly ex took the three kids to a comic book convention in Baltimore. There, they saw a couple of zombie-dressed grown-ups. The older two took this in stride. The little guy? He thought the zombies were chasing him.

That's not what did it, though.

A couple of weeks ago, in an effort to entertain the troops through another chicken nugget feast, the nearly ex pulled up YouTube and put on Michael Jackson's "Thriller." With zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.

Upshot? Terrified four year old.

And then came the frogs.

Apparently the big brother was watching an episode of the Penguins of Madagascar about poison dart frogs. Green bubbly rashes. Stacks of paralyzed penguins. All that made quite an impression on my little guy, so the poison frogs joined the zombies for our nightly phobia fest. (Because, of course, zombies come out only at night.)

Lots of screaming over toothbrushes and bedtime stories. Lots of refusing to climb into bed. Lots of not falling asleep. And then lots of waking up. And more waking up. And then waking up some more.

We used monster spray. It doesn't work on zombies, or so I was informed. I even got a scented room spray instead of the high-powered, mom-sized, imaginary monster spray we usually use.

Not enough.

I pulled out the redhead's baby blanket and told him it was infused with protective magic. After all, he made it to the ripe old age of four without a single zombie incident. And while it didn't solve the problem, it did help. He takes it to dad's house. He takes it to preschool. He uses it as a superhero cape and pulls it up to his chin at bedtime. He feels safer.

Still, not enough.

Finally, in an effort to get the poison frogs off the list, I pointed out to him that the frogs live very far away. And that they can't fly an airplane. And they can't get on a boat. So they can't come here.

That worked.

But the zombies? Well, they live in Baltimore, or so my little guy tells me. And, truth be told, Baltimore is a heckuva lot closer than South America.

That's when mom had a brainstorm.

"Honey, tell me, can zombies drive?"

"Oh no. They can't drive."

"Well, Baltimore's pretty far away. Didn't you have to take a car to go there?"

"Um ... yeah." Wheels turning. "Hey, they can't come here!"

Problem solved. Zombies can't drive. They are stuck in Baltimore. And I guarantee you, we are not going to Baltimore. Not now. Not ever.

At least, not without that blanket.