Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm not sure . . .

I'm not sure why this quote on friends comes to my mind when I think of Aunt B. It just does.

There are those who pass like ships in the night, who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight with never a backward glance of regret, folks we know briefly then quickly forget. Then there are friends who sail together, through quiet waters and stormy weather, helping eachother though joy and through strife. And they are the kind who give meaning to life. By: Unknown

Anyway, while we, personally, our family, I mean . . . were learning to play Tri-Ominos and fiddling with parts to the massive snap on arsenal, Aunt B was called home to The Lord. In the days following the news, I re-read Aunt B's book. I love her book. I love writers . . . kind of have always personally aspired to be one . . . . and contemplated life . . and death . . and life after death . . and what heaven looks like.

And though my body is going through the motions, that friend quote keeps popping back into my mind . . . while I'm folding laundry or picking up Little People . . . . it's a whisper . . . and I'm leaning closer to hear . . . .

I'm thinking maybe getting these words out of my mind will free up some space so I can HEAR the message . . . . .

We made it through . . . .

Ah . . heavy, deep, e-x-h-a-l-e.

We did another Christmas Eve. And Christmas morning. And Christmas Dinner. And Christmas night. And day-after Christmas.

Three gift exchanges, two lunches and one dinner. Done.

One birthday party. Done.

Fat man delivered the Easy Bake Oven for the Middle one. She's happy.
Fat man delivered a learning laptop for the Big one. She's happy.
The little dude got his Ironman with the "massive snap on arsenal". He's happy. Tinky got a rocking horse . . . .

This event alone -- the delivery of a rocking horse will keep them believing for one more year. Even the one not fooled by Santa paper vs. mom-and-dad paper . . by "why does target need stocking stuffers if Santa's bringing them from the North Pole" . . . . . managed to say . . . "yeh, you'd never buy that. There must be a Santa."

I'm still sorting . . . . . making recycling and opening things to play with, reading instructions for games and finding parts that go with pieces all around. But I'm having fun with the kids . . . and playing with them tons! It's been great. And, like I said . . .we made it through.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Avoiding an all-nighter

Anyone who knows anything about me knows . . . . I love to sleep.

I have four lovely and talented children.
None of them sleep worth a shit.

My oldest will be 10 in 2009. That marks a decade of not sleeping. Before her, I worked a night shift in a NICU, so even on nights when the bed was warm and the time was right . . . my bio-rhythm was jacked and I watched re-runs of Law and Order into the wee hours.

I love to sleep. I'm a master of low sleep. What I know is that I can function perfectly well on sleep between the critical hours of 10:30 pm and 3 am. Critical-sleep-time.

So . . . in preparation to sleep on Christmas eve . .. I'm checking my list twice, three times and four.

I have pies in the oven.
I have grocery shopping done.
I have the menu planned. Sort of. It will come together when the good Lord swoops his hand down and delivers a ham onto the table.
I have gifts bought.
I have most of them wrapped.
I have them wrapped in "mom-and-dad" paper.
I have Santa's wrapped in Santa paper.

What's left . . . I think . . . is:
a. make cookies for santa (that's tomorrow anyway)
b. go see F, the mother of the flower-child . . get her to write to/from nametags in handwriting unrecognizable to my children
c. deliver freezer jam & apple butter
d. deliver pumpkin bread and photographs
e. luch at my mom's

Really . . is that it? Is there anyone available to check my reality??

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas with Grandma

I like this story:

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her. On the way, my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!" My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.



Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted .... "Ridiculous! Don't believe it! That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go." "Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car."

Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's. I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker.

He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down."Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby. Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Food for thought . . . .

Many of you know I love yoga . . . and practice it frequently . . . . . I attended a class on Sunday where the teacher (one of my favorites) began with these words . . .

"The final few months of the year often find us in a frantic state of shopping, decorating, traveling & other high-energy activities. Yet, instead of having fun, we often end of feeling ill, anxious, or depressed. The reason, according to Taoist philosophy and traditiaonl Chinese medicine, is that the action-packed schedules we keep at this time of year fall out of sync with the earth's natural rhythm.

Taoist philopsopy conceptualized universal balance in terns of yin & yang, complementary forces that govern the universe. Yin characteristics are cool, wet, slow, feminine & quiet. Yang forces are the opposite: warm, dry, fast, masculine & extroverted. Winter is a Yin season . . . a time for storing & conserving energy in the way a bear retains fat by hibertating, or a farmer stores food for the cold months ahead."

Anyway . . . she went on to plug Yin Yoga (the kind of class).

But I was left thinking about the Yin season & the truth . . . our schedules at this time of the year are jam packed with stuff. Stuff that stresses us. Stuff that has us running in circles hunting for the cheapest Leapster or the perfect stuffed bunny. Stuff, stuff, stuff . . . that we should be respectfully limiting in an attempt to come back into balance with the earth's natural rhythm.

Today, I'm slowing down. I'm setting the bar low, and by golly . . I'm going to succeed. I'm taking care of work stuff first. So I can be free. I'm sharing this with you . . . because I know we all deserve it. And, then, I'm going to sit on the floor and play with Little People while I enjoy a 2nd cup of coffee. This is my organizational "piece" of the week. To not organize. To slow down, enjoy a 2nd cup, breathe deeply and just be. JUST-BE.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Crud.

The Crud has been visiting here.

My small superhero son has traded in his cape for a suit of armor. He's a knight. A knight of the night. The kind of knight that poops all night. A knight of the round bowl. A knight of the water closet. He's Sir Poops Alot.

My Tinky one began barfing on Tuesday night. She barfed every 20 minutes from midnight until nearly 4 am. I remember actually thinking at one point, during the night, "would it actually be that bad to sleep with these pieces of peach?" I woke feeling positively drugged. Hungover. And too damn old. (Remember when pulling an all-nighter was fun??)

My Big one came home sick from school last week on Friday. She spent most of Saturday night camped on the pot reading. My Christmas wish for her (or is this for me??) is that she learns to self-service wipe.

My Middle one is dodging it for now. Please, God, let her get through her birthday party without the shits or the pukies. Please??

Mentally Wrestling

I'm mentally wrestling this week . .. .
I'm struggling to find a holiday balance this year . . .

More so than for many years in the past. I'm thinking it's "the economy." I'm blaming it on "the recession."

But my honest side also tells me that my drive for retail therapy is screaming buyer's remorse.

So I have 4 kids. The Big One. The Middle One. The Little One. And Tinky. And three of them have birthdays in December. Heck, two of them have birthdays the week of Christmas. And before any of you can judge or comment . . yes, I was there. Yes, I was part of it. Yes, I knew it was a possibility. But, no, I had no way of knowing I'd deliver them all early. I was supposed to have ONE December baby. One early January and one late January or February.

So, back to the balance part. I'm finding myself . . . confused this year more than year's past. Big and Middle are dangerously close to discovering "THE TRUTH" about the fat man in the red suit. It's beginning to stress me out a little . . . the separate roll of wrapping paper (which combats the "mom, Santa shops at the dollar store, too . . . look our paper is the same"), the "be good" bullshit. The "Santa is watching" line of crap. My kids already ARE good. They don't need the anxiety that some freak is watching them in November and December and won't give them new crayons if they "aren't good." And . . . I think last year I posted about this. No . . we don't do Santa at the mall. Shoot, I spend the other 51 weeks of the year teaching them not to speak to strangers and to know who their "safe-side-adult" is . . . . we drill "who's in charge" . . . . blah, blah, blah. . . . so why is it magically okay to not only go talk to this strange man . . but to SIT-ON-HIS-LAP!!! Ack . . . it gives me a stomach ache.

And, this year . . . I'm having a struggle keeping straight who asked for what, from whom. I coach my kiddos through writing their letter to Santa. This year, they each asked for ONE thing. Come to find out, the Middle one asked Santa for the same thing that the Grandma bought for her . . . for her birthday. This involves gift swapping between unrelated parties where Grandpa has to act as a go-between and interpreter . . even before birthday or Christmas arrive. Ack . . . Ack . . . Ack.

And, I'm struggling this year with the gluttony. I have gifts for them . . . ALL OF THEM. I do minor shopping throughout the year and keep a stash of gifts. I'm just about done before I start. I have a "gift from the heart" for each kid. Something they'll treasure and that I hope will light their eyes. And beyond that, I kind of don't want it. Ok, not kind of. I don't want it. I've spent the last 6 months sorting and cleaning & re-saling toys that nobody plays with. Christmas just starts this spiral all over again. It is my strongest heart's desire to teach my kids to be happy . . . with whatever they are given. It's not about what's in the boxes. It's not about what they want. It's not about what other people want to give.

Anybody else out there spinning in a world of receipts, lists and returns? Anybody else out there already planning what to take back and what to re-gift?

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Winter Poem

I found this beautiful winter poem and thought it might be a comfort to you. It was to me, and it's very well written.
'WINTER'
a poem by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre...
'SHIT, It's Cold !'
The End

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Look at what my gymnast daughter can do:




Cake is good.


In summary . . .

Thanksgiving was good. A success. I find myself pondering the ever evolving definition of success. In years past, success meant a really fabulous family day packed with snow and dinner, games and stories. Success in 2008 is a different thing. No blood was shed and under the wire of tension, the day finally came to a close. My chest felt tight and after hours, I realized I probably hadn't actually taken a deep breath all day.

The weekend also held a birthday party for Tinky . . . . which was great FOR her. She tore into cake like a fourth child knows how. She ripped presents with gusto and enthusiasm that can only be learned from older siblings. My mom got her a ride on toy. She popped on that sucker first rattle out of the box, and though she can't figure out how to push it foward . . . she's having a good time becoming a master backward driver around the island in the kitchen.

Sadly, the fun-buck stoped at Tinky's party. Mouths opened and feelings were hurt. Though MY heart aches, I feel worse for MOTH, who makes friends with difficulty . . . and suffered humiliation the likes are difficult to imagine. In his own home. A double whammy. In front of his friends. Triply whammy. Alas, we regress again. We end another weekend with a tight chest and a curtain of gloom hanging in the living room.

Shit.

And with that, I'll post happy pictures.