Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Grumpiness

I hate waking up and feeling fairly decent, then proceed to get all bent out of shape over the course of the morning. Noises are too loud, I can't figure out what I want to do next, I have no appetite but I eat anyway, the kids aren't listening, I feel overwhelmed by pretty much everything.

Do I do anything to manage my stress? Sure I do. I roll my ass out of bed at 5:30 and hoof it around my neighborhood for a half an hour. Does it help? Yes. But the "help" doesn't seem to last.

At least 50% of the time I feel as though I am wandering around in some sort of unfocused fog, unproductive (to my standards), and agitated. I don't get enough done, I don't get the things I want to get done *done*. Half the time I don't even know what I *want* to get done. It's maddening, and I hope it's a phase.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's not a cliche that time goes by so really does.

Noah Spencer Brandel 11-26-07

Christmas, 2007

November 20, 2010

Happy third birthday to my little man.

You are the gift I didn't know I wanted, the unexpected joy of a little boy in a house full of girls, and the snuggliest, most loving child. I love listening to your little voice, with it's /w/ for /r/ and /l/ substitutions, and I adore holding your little hand and feeling you wrap your arms around my neck. Sometimes your need for 'same' and for "I do it!" makes me a little crazy, but you definitely have your strong preferences and ideas. Happy birthday, Noah! Mommy loves you so much!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from the Brandel Family!

Today, but also every day, I am thankful for the peace of home, the love of family, and the ability to make my way in the world the way I see fit. It's been ten years since I celebrated Thanksgiving Day *on* the actual fourth Thursday of November, but I wouldn't have it any other way now.

Since I spend time on the road on Thanksgiving every year, taking Kira to her dad's, we started the tradition of making a traditional turkey feast on the day before. Around here, the kids are usually out of school, and Travis often has or takes the day off. We cook and eat early in the day, then spend the rest of the time watching movies, playing outside and hanging out together. This year, Kira and I went to see a 7pm show of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One'.

The reason our Thanksgiving occurs on a Wednesday is because Kira must be at her dad's farm by 2pm on Thanksgiving Day. Because the farm is an hour and a half from here, and because we don't meet halfway, we leave the house at noon in order to be there on time. As you can probably imagine, leaving at noon, driving an hour and a half one way, then an hour and a half the other way takes up most of the prime turkey-eating time of the day. Rather than have a holiday in which my oldest child is not really a part of the feasting (unless we feast at 10:00 in the morning!) and our family's togetherness, we have opted to celebrate the day before. We ALL get to spend time together, then the next day she gets to celebrate with her dad's side of the family. I'm sure she is sick of turkey by the end of the holiday weekend, though.

We had a huge turkey, which we will be eating for the next week (which is ok, because I love turkey). There were plenty of side dishes too: sweet potatoes baked with apples and brown sugar, green bean casserole, ginger-glazed carrots, cornbread mother in law's recipe for mac and cheese, which we lovingly call "heart-attack mac"....and no feast is complete without STC (Savory Toasted Cheese -- a cheese sauce) over broccoli.

Noah loves to help in the kitchen, particularly if it involves using the stove, or stirring anything that is on the stove. He's my little kitchen elf.
Daddy also taught him how to put beer in the fridge. In this case, a few bottles of Blue Moon Winter Abbey Ale.

And after we stuff ourselves silly, and get the table cleared, it's time for Mommy to play Fridge Tetris with the leftovers, which I am very good at. It all fits in the fridge when I am done. Strategic use of plastic containers and ziploc bags make it all possible.

After the recovery from dinner and the game of Fridge Tetris and the endurance of many, many plaintive little cries of "Is it time for pie!?", then it is time for pie. This year, it was three pies for the five of us, because I couldn't decide and I wanted to try a new pie recipe this year. Clockwise from left, Cranberry-Fudge Pie, Peanut Butter pie, and pumpkin pie. That cranberry pie was amazing. Very very rich, though...the bottom of the pie is a dark chocolate ganache, then a layer of walnuts, then a cranberry sauce. Oh. To die for. I'm contemplating having it for breakfast as we speak.

As predicted, not one of the kids wanted to try that pie. That's fine; more for me, then.
They did enjoy the other pies, though!
I hope that everyone reading this is having a terrific day and enjoying (rather than enduring) time at the table with family and friends and good food. Another year is coming to a close, and I am truly thankful for all the great gifts in my life, not the least of which are these three beautiful children that I have been blessed with, and a faithful, loving and generous husband who is an outstanding father to our brood. Among my other blessings this year have been a couple of independent trips and opportunities for learning, discovering new friendships, professional work I enjoy and colleagues I love to work with, a comfortable home, and everything I need for a happy life. Oh, and the rich blessing of re-discovering a deep and significant friendship. That means so much to me.

Thanks to all of you for everything, and blessings for all of you and your families!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Musings

**I think my animals have taken over my house.

**For some reason, I am SO looking forward to Thanksgiving. I really, really want to cook and eat and relax with my family.

**And pie. I want pie.

**We eat our family Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, so pie-making must commence tomorrow.

**I am in the midst of finishing a wholesale order. Got to get that done and delivered today.

**The Christmas shopping is going well.

**I have come to realize that no matter how much money we save, there will always be something that we will need it for, thus affecting the savings.

** I think the kids and I will be making these on Wednesday for the dinner table.

**Which reminds me...I need to acquire both a bottle of wine and a bottle of sparkling grape juice for the table.

**This little man is going to be THREE YEARS OLD on Friday. How did that happen?

**It's Soup Night in our house tonight. Even though we had beef stew last night, which apparently my husband considers soup. Hm.

**It's still Soup Night tonight.

**Better get the soup on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Thinking About Yourself

The past few weeks have been very introspective. I can't say exactly what I've been spending brain power on, because it's kind of nebulous. or I haven't really specifically focused on anything in particular.

Lately, it's been as though my nervous system has migrated to the outside of my skin. I noticed this weekend, when we were in NC for a family gathering, that noise and commotion and chaos has really been bothering me a great deal. Kind of like my balance is upset by too much of anything.

I do know that over the past few years, I have become increasingly in need of honest to goodness quiet time. In the morning. By myself. If I don't get it, I feel agitated and discombobulated all day. In my household, the day typically starts full-speed once Wren and Noah get up, which is usually around 7:00. I've taken to getting up at 5:30 and going for a walk for a half an hour. It helps, but sometimes it's really hard to get out of bed that early.

Walking is like a meditation for me. I don't know what about it that works, because I don't ever think in a logical fashion about anything that goes through my head. The cold, and the dark, and the dawn stars do provide the perfect setting for sorting through junk inside my head. It's kind of like what I do every few years when I can't take the mass of junk that ends up right around the stairs to the attic. I get frustrated when I can't find the Christmas decorations, and I go in there and pull stuff out and move stuff around and reorganize boxes and make a huge donation pile for Goodwill. I get rid of stuff, and pack other stuff away and shift it to the far recesses of the attic -- in case I need it or want it again -- so I know that it's there, but not in my way.

Yep. My head is full of stuff -- not all of it junk -- so I have to go in and rearrange it periodically, so I can reach what I need to have, and stash away stuff that is old, but not ready to be completely discarded yet.

Today's walk was particularly good. It was cold, because the sky was absolutely clear, but the stars were so beautiful and bright in the lightening sky.

It doesn't matter what I thought about -- a lot of things, I assure you -- but now, almost four hours later, I am really awake, and feel pretty settled. It's a good way to start the day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A new haircut
...and red shoes with stripey socks.....
....makes things better.

That, and a chocolate mocha cupcake for lunch. Better.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The dark clouds gather and swirl in an angry sky. Beneath it all, the sea is roiling. Deep blue water turns black and malevolent, rocking and pitching as though disturbed from someplace far beneath the surface. The daylight has not gone, but the sky turns so dark it is impossible to judge the time. On a lone outcropping, waves smash against rocks with a fury unparalleled by anything on Earth. The water and the wind conspire in destructive rage that borders on delirium, as the natural forces called up by this madness threaten to overwhelm any and all within reach.

Including me.

Drowning, I reach for the place of peace, stretch my fingers toward it, and grasp desperately for the shore. I fight, I struggle, I release all the energy that holds me captive and dump myself unceremoniously on its mercy. Long surges capture me in their grasp and drag me back, back, back into the depths of this storm, but I will not be taken. Not this time.

The wind dies, the current lessens, the waves recede. I lay gasping like a landed fish and stare into the lightening sky, and I breathe.

Partially Speechless

I've got plenty to say right now, but not much cohesive language to use to express it all. At least, not enough that I want to lay out here on the internet for those of you who may subscribe to this blog to read. I'm prone to philosophical discussion and theorizing and 'what-ifs', and frankly, they take up a huge amount of emotional and psychic energy. So I'm left without the linguistic ability to write about them.

Have a picture instead.

This one I truly adore. It's my dear, sweet little son, Noah, asleep in the rocking chair in his room yesterday afternoon. That rocker has been mine since my dad bought it for me after Kira was born. I've had it for twelve years now, and every time I think about having it move on to some other house, I can't bring myself to do it. Noah's getting too big to have it in his room -- we don't sit and rock nearly as much as we did before he got so big -- but I have no place else to really put it.

So, it stays where it is.
He's so big. I can't believe he is going to be three on the day after Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Musings

Ideally, this post would have been written early in the morning, but since I had to run out the door to work this morning, I'm just now sitting down to write.

--So, I'm loving this cold weather in the early mornings. I'm not even freezing too badly when I got out to walk.

--The fact that it isn't pitch dark at 5:45 in the morning is a nice bonus.

--I wish I felt compelled to find the time and desire to work out really hard several times a week.

--Getting older is totally overrated.

--High school is DEFINITELY NOT the "best years of your life".

--It has come to my attention that some things in life are no longer available for you to experience after a certain point. That sucks.

--Youth is wasted on the young.

--I do not understand why two shirts that are the same size, the same style, and made by the same manufacturer can fit so completely differently.

--I really, really love to teach. Too bad I really, really hate teaching in "regular" school.

--My kids are upstairs for their naps. is anyone sleeping? No. It's rather loud up there at this moment.

--There's something really fantastic about fall. So beautiful.

--I'm making broccoli-cheese soup for supper tonight, with from-scratch dinner rolls. Think anyone but me and Travis will eat it? Outlook unclear; ask again later.

--I almost forgot to call for an appointment for a haircut. I know long hair is sexy and youthful and all that, but I just look like a drowned rat, so I'm getting it cut (a little) shorter.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday Morning

It's a sad state of affairs that three beers consumed within a couple of hours on a Friday night while watching 'Supernatural' can lead to a cloudy, vague headache and the need to drink copious amounts of water at 5:00 in the morning. WTF is up with that? I must be old. Sad, really. Very sad.

Today we have an appointment with the kitchen designer at Home Depot to set in motion the new kitchen island. I want red cabinetry, like this:

I don't want that exact island, but definitely those cabinets and finish, and the light grey granite countertop. Travis doesn't think we need new kitchen cabinets -- and we don't, not now -- but eventually we will have them. I might even want black cabinets. Something dramatic and beautiful.

The rest of today will be full of errands, and doing some A Hot Piece of Glass business stuff, and getting ready for next weekend -- a trip to NC, and a show for me (that I don't have to be physically present for). I'm looking forward to both, especially the show, since I have a long list of tools and equipment that need to be purchased or upgraded in my workshop.

I guess I should go take a shower and get going on this day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Randomness from my brain, because it's cold (yay!), because it's Tuesday (and election day -- go vote!), and because I can't think of anything much to write.

This song has been playing in my head for days. I love it's simplicity and sweetness. Of course, I'm a huge fan of Train in general, and Pat Monahan's voice specifically.

Forever can never be long enough for me
to feel like I've had long enough with you


**I've had, recently, several really wonderful conversations with my husband about different things. Sometimes I feel like we are on distant planets. Sometimes I miss him terribly, even though we are together most of the time. Daily life can really dampen the connection shared by two people who deeply love each other. I have been occasionally envious of some of our friends who have no children, because it appears they have so much more time to spend with each other, taking care of each other and their relationship. We don't have that much time. But my childless friends don't know the breadth and depth of love and joy that we do, so I guess it's a good trade off. I know some of them will (and very well MAY) argue this point with me, and they can try, but I hold firm in my belief.

**This morning I entered a contest on the Pioneer Woman's blog to win a trip to Oklahoma for a weekend of holiday baking and hanging out on her and her husband's ranch. Not only would that be awesome, because I love her writing and her cooking, but it would be beyond wonderful to have a little adventure with Travis. I've never been to Oklahoma, and neither has he.

**The Christmas season is almost upon us. Must commence Santa shopping, and make a list of baking that needs to be done. I am planning to have several batches of cookie dough all prepped and frozen by Thanksgiving, so when the time to bake comes, I can do it quickly, production-line style. I think I want to send cookies to my dad and grandma, and maybe someone (or two) else.

**I can't believe 2010 is almost over.

**Maybe Santa will bring me the metalsmithing and glass tools I would like this year.

**These Halloween decorations have to come down today.

**I really want another cup of coffee. Actually, I want Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice latte, but I've already eaten a mini Almond Joy and two and a half toaster waffles. I think that's probably more than enough junk. Sigh.

**Curried Pumpkin-Butternut Squash soup is YUM. I'll be having the leftovers for lunch today.

**Must figure out some method of not freezing to death on my morning walks. It's getting really cold in the dark mornings, and my yoga pants are NOT cutting it.

**I am letting the kids each fill a small cereal bowl with candy from their Halloween haul as a daily ration. They have been gleefully consuming the day's ration before 10:00a.m. It's made for some interesting times here, but I am also secretly throwing away a handful every day, and putting the chocolate in the freezer. Seems to work. They don't bug me All. Day. Long. for candy.

**Guess I should round up the kids and go vote. Wish there was someone really worth voting for.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This Is Halloween!

At the Brandel residence, much fun was had on Halloween!

The weekend's festivities started on Saturday, at a costume party for a friend's 50th birthday. I even played croquet!

We need a nice wooden croquet set for our yard now. Fun!

On Sunday, we spent the morning shopping for a new kitchen island, since the decrepit old kitchen table and chairs that has lived in many, many houses, and has gone through at least two divorces finally gave up. As a side note, it looks like the new island will be RED with a grey granite top, because that is what I fell in love with at the store.

We carved pumpkins, of course.

Kira always has to make her pumpkin a technical and artistic magnum opus, but it always turns out really well, even when I have to help. :)

We had the traditional "creepy supper", which this year, consisted of mummified hot dogs and mac and cheese.
Oh, and carrots and dip, to provide at least some semblance of nutrition.

This year, we had guests! Bryce brought over Gracie (they were an adorable Batman and Robin), and Moe brought his boys, Trip and Chris, both of whom were very energetic but not silent ninjas! We made quite the exuberant party heading out the door!

We had walked about a block before the littlest ones started to really flag and get left behind, so a quick stop at our house for the wagon, I mean, Batmobile, was in order.
And then we successfully managed an epic night of trick or treating with all the kids. Much fun was had, and many many pieces of candy were obtained (and consumed by Wren en route!). It was after 8:30 by the time we all made it back to the house.

Fortunately, nobody felt compelled to egg or toilet paper our house, but some low-rent bastard stole our candy bowl for the second year in a row. It really made me angry, and I think I know which group of un-costumed teenagers did it, but what can you do? It was a $3 bowl from Wal Mart or something, and not worth getting too upset about. Next year, if we leave candy out, I'm going to pile it on the front step of the house and leave it at that. At least they didn't take the pumpkins.

Hehe. Maybe I should leave a big pile of candy shellacked to the front step next year.

Anyway, after quick baths and too much sugar, the kids collapsed in bed. I'm instituting a candy rationing system this year to hopefully head off the overconsumption.

Today is November 1st already, and since our kids get two days off from school for election day, I think we will be taking down the Halloween stuff, and maybe trying to get out for a short hike in the woods before the weather starts getting crummy.

Hope everyone had a terrific Halloween!