Friday, December 30, 2011

Achilles Heel

I love running.

OK, I'm not actually a big fan of running while I'm running, but when I stop, I love that I do it. I love that I CAN do it. I love how I feel, I love the strength it gives me.

Lately, I've been experiencing some pain in my calf. Not a severe pain, but in the morning it's tough to walk at first. It's stiffness, really. I have been blaming new shoes, ones with more of a heel than I usually have.

The other night I was rubbing my foot when I found a lump. It was right there on the back of my leg, the lower part of my calf. And even though it was small, it was a definite lump. I even checked my other leg to see if maybe this wasn't the way my leg was actually shaped and I'd just never noticed before. But not, it was only on this one leg. It didn't hurt when I rubbed it. Well, it hurt when I rubbed it too hard.

I showed Steve, who said "Yeah, it's a lump on your tendon."

THAT was the word I'd been looking for. Tendon. I had forgotten about tendons.

And the next morning I woke and ran, and the leg hurt just a little, but then it felt better so I kept going. But the lump was still there, so I looked it up on the internet.

I think I have Achilles Heel. Only they now call it "Achilles tendonitis." Usually there is no specific moment when people get this.It can be caused by an increase in miles or incline or by not stretching. There can be a lump on the tendon. I figured I don't have the chronic version, only the less severe kind. But if I don't try and fix it, it'll become chronic. Which is more serious and hurts all the time. I don't want that. Especially since the article I was readin talked a lot about the surgery one could get to fix the chronic tendonitis. It even had pictures.

At least I have an excuse for not running for awhile.

I just need to find an alternative. I've decided to try and do a little yoga - I used to do it, but stopped because of time. Maybe after while I can start something else? I'll get a bike in the spring, but.... I need something NOW!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Round 'n Round

It is the Tuesday before Christmas. I have a lot of things to do today.

I have four loads of laundry that are clean, but not folded, and gathering more wrinkles my the minute. I have gifts to wrap and deliver. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes. The Sink is full of dirty dishes.

Today is the day I plan on handing out holiday gifts to teachers. I have chosen to day because it is the last day of gymnastics class and piano lessons. I am explaining to the boys that I am going to bundle up the Christmas cookies and deliver them to the children's librarians (who are very nice and set aside books for my boys frequently) when Nathan shakes his head.

"You better go to the library without me, Mom."

"Why?" I ask.

"Because I just threw up in the bathroom."

This changes everything. And not in a good way. Nathan seems fine. He's playing and happy. But he just puked. So I decide to let him stay home. I bundle up the cookies anyway and think that maybe I'll deliver them later. I leave Nate with Steve and drag Andy off to his gymnastics class. We arrive five minutes late, but deliver the gift to his teacher without a hitch.

This will be the easiest thing I do all day.

When I get home Steve is in some sort of tizzy. He is on a call, and manages to shout some sort of information about me needing to go pick Nick up from school and also to charge my cell phone. When I ask what's wrong with Nick, he just looks irritated, shouts something about them needing him out of there and him being really busy on the phone, and I take off to remove Nick.

At the school, it turns out Nick isn't throwing up, as I imagined. He also is not running a fever and he does not have any broken bones. He has a headache, and is complaining of not feeling well. If I had taken the call fromt eh nurse, I would have pushed back, because this is not a sick child. This is a tired child, and maybe a reluctant-to-be-at-school child, but he is not ill. The cough they mention sounds very purposeful to me.

But I bring him home.

So not I have al of the work to do AND three boys at home. They need lunch. They are all happily playing in the living room. No one would guess that two of them are sick.

I start to panic because I have to fold so much laundry, and the hampers are also all full upstairs - Nate has no pants in his drawer. I HAVE to do laundry. And make beef stew, because that's what's for dinner, and the vegetable drawer is full f parsnips because we keep getting them every week from the CSA and we never eat them because, let's face it, they don't taste that good. But today is pick-up day.

And should I take the boys to afternoon activities? Usually the rule is, no school, no fun activities. I would like to skip karate, but then what about piano? It's the last lesson for two weeks. And we have her little gift. Maybe we'll just skip karate and go to piano. But I have to go to the little plaza anyway to pick up the veggies from the CSA and the dry-cleaning.

And this is the game I call "Round 'n Round." I'll take them. I won't take them. We'll go to piano but not karate. I'll jus stay home and cook and fold laundry - I need the time. What should I do? What is the right thing?

I still don't know.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mommy = Pack Mule

As part of our pre-Christmas holiday festivities, we are usually invited to Steve's Uncle's house for a Holiday get together. This year it was on a Sunday, and because it didn't quite make sense to go back home, we left for the party right after church.

Almost as soon as we got in the car, Nicholas asked me to hand him his 3DS. We don't let the boys play them at church, even before the service, during the choir rehearsal, but since Steve's uncle lives an hour away we told them they could play the things in the car.

Only I didn't remember Nick giving me his 3DS. "Are you sure you gave it to me?" I asked. "Because I'm looking in my bag and it isn't in here." Nope, I definitely did not have Nick's 3DS. Nick began to cry, sudden;y faced with two long car rides and NOTHING TO DO.

And I got irritated. Lets forget my kid's over-reaction, just for a moment. Forget the hours I spend in the backseat of a car squabbling with four siblings over one walkman and the 2 tapes we had (Billboard's hits of the 50's and REM's Green). Let's pretend Nick just shrugged his shoulders and then stared out the window for the whole ride.

Why the heck should I have his stupid DS?

Getting into the car from church, I had been carrying 4 coats - mine, and one for each child. I had three plastic bag of items from the Holiday Sale - one for each child. I had a small paper plate with a decorated gingerbread man cookie on it - the icing was still wet. I had a small paper plate with a painted candy cane ornament on it - the paint was still wet. I had a paper Santa beard with cotton balls glued all over it - the glue was kind of still wet. I also had my own bag with my wallet and my choir music.

See, my kids think it's OK to just hand me stuff. I'm supposed to be some sort of octopus, I guess, because I simply don't have that many arms. When I try and slow them down and explain that I can't carry this stuff - especially when we're at church or a party with other things and people to distract them - I can't even get them to look at me. It's infuriatingly obvious that they don't hear a word I'm saying, even though every other adult in a mile radius can hear me perfectly.

Even getting into the car that morning was a trial. I got my choir bag. And my coat. Then we have to remind the kids to wear coats, because they don't seem to realize it's winter. Then I had to bring the special "guest" box the church handed out before Thanksgiving. I grabbed my phone. Steve called out "Don't forget the GPS and the address" and I also remember I meant to bring a book for Steve's cousin. And the little boys are asking for snacks for the ride down - can I bring a candy cane? Can I bring this chocolate covered graham cracker?

I had so much to bring that I left a whole stack of things on the table. My phone, the book, the address (which I remembered anyway) and, of course, Nick's 3DS.

From now on I'm putting my foot down. Not Responsible.

This is, apparently, how Steve operates. He took the boys to Karate on Friday, and no one quite remembers where Nick's winter coat is. He's been wearing Nathan's. Good thing we have an extra.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Not Stolen... It's Put Away

(words from this post are taken directly from Dr. Suess's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Only out of order and with a few changed pronouns. Also, I added a few lines so that it changes the context. If you haven;t read this book, then you should crawl out from under the rock you're living under and go and read it. It's cute. The movie has very little to do with it.)

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!

OK, I admit, it came with a few
Of the Who-sits, and What-sits, and thing-a-bobs, too.

A few weeks ago I determined to stop it.
Any more toys in this house would just... pop it.

Maybe Christmas - I thought - doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!

And despite all my efforts, we got all the junk
and the stuff and the things Santa sent us, The Punk.

A less stubborn person than I might be sad
But I'm going to enjoy this holiday. Too bad!

We have so much to be grateful for
And I'm going to stop lest I become a bore.

I HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Day, full of Peace, Joy, Hope, and Love.

And music and cake.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Day Before Christmas

I forgot to post yesterday. The day just got away from me. But I do have a lot to say. A LOT!

First of all, we decorated a gingerbread house and a gingerbread train. These pre-fab things are more complicated than they look. I always have the worst time getting the things to actually stand up. I had to use a box inside the house and alphabet blocks for the trains. One got stuck in the train. You can kind of see it in the picture if you look. Also, this is the first year that, after constructing the frames, I let the boys decorate all by themselves. Thoughts?

This year I made the boys buy their own presents. Not the ones they GET, the ones they give. So you may be getting some... er... pretty odd things. They did most of their shopping at the Church Holiday Sale, where the Youth Group set up tables of donate items, sell them for very reasonable prices, and the proceeds go to something... heat relief or hunger or something. I donated a basket full of items. Half of these items my kids purchased back.

Many of the gifts are already under the tree. These are gifts from my sister Emily and gifts the boys are giving. It reminds me of being a kid - days before Christmas it looks like Santa has already been here.

Finally, I heard a new holiday song yesterday. It's The 12 Days of Christmas. I KNOW! How awful. There are only 3 billion versions of this song. But this one is different. First off, it's The Boston Pops, and it's just so very different. I tried to find it on iTunes, but I couldn't. The version there was this boring John Williams one. This is a new one. It's really funny! Especially if you're a music lover. I had to go to the BSO site and download it, but maybe there's a different way to give it a listen.

I'll post tomorrow to give an official Merry Christmas, but just in case you won't check in.... Merry Christmas to All!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Schedule - Ho Ho Ho!

Yesterday was Polar Express day for Nate. Today is Polar Express day for Nick. They are both going to school in PJ's. But Nick has gym so needs sneakers and both boys need to turn in their library books.

Andy has no school today, but has gone off shopping with Steve.

Today I will clean the house, take the cat to the vet (again!) and this afternoon the boys will put together 1 gingerbread house and 1 gingerbread train, and Steve will take Nick to get his hair cut. And then tonight I will make raviolis for dinner and then we will watch the end of The Grinch.

The End! Hope your days is fine, too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not Done Yet

I'm almost done. But every time I think I am, I remember one thing I forgot to do, one person I forgot to cover...

It's really annoying because the joy and fun of it is gone now. And getting out of the house is getting harder and harder.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Every year I decide to make Christmas cookies.

Now, I am not actually Martha Stewart, or a cray person. When I was in high school, Larissa and I would make platters of cookies for people as gifts for the holidays, and every single years the madeleins had me in tears. I do not have the patience or the time for complicated projects. Instead, I go simple. Sugar cookies. Made by my favorite Dough Boy.

You would think that, since all I have to do is roll out the dough and bake it, the cookies would be simple. This is what I think. Every Single Year.

And for awhile, the cookies actually DO look fabulous. We have all sorts of cookie cutters, and I use them all. We have hearts and stars and snowflakes, trains and candy canes, Santas and trees. The first sheet of cookies is a wonder!

Until I put them in the oven.

Because THIS is when the cookies decide to puff up to three times their original size. That first sheet of cookies went from intricate and delicate designs to... well, to blobs of cookies. Everything looked like a blob.

This put me in a difficult position yesterday, when I was making a few cookies to give as gifts. Complicated cookies can look messy because they are complicated and require time and effort. Dough Boy sugar cookies are not allowed to look messy. They must look nice.

I managed to separate out a few cookies that looked like flowers, and a few gingerbread men that looked more or less like... obese gingerbread men. And instead of stories last night, I sat the boys down at the kitchen table and opened a little cookie-decorating sweatshop. For one half-hour the boys dabbed sugar icing on cookies with paintbrushes and poured sprinkles on a few sugary cookie-men victims. They look just fine, and now I am happy to give them away as tokens of thanks.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Elf My Kids

... OK, so it sometimes gets old. But I have to do it, or it isn't Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Gifts

I read a yahoo article the other day which had an interesting statistic. It said that twice the amount of money was spend at Christmas than it would take to give the entire world access to clean water. How awful IS that?

It's true, when it comes to giving to organizations that provide clean water or food, or whatever, we tend to tighten our pursestrings. And when it comes to Christmas, we tend to spend more than we need. We HAVE to give things to people. And now, even as I'm wrapping the gifts I've bought, I wonder what I was thinking. Will these people actually LIKE this stuff? UGH!

It's a real argument for home-made and charitable gifts. Which I plan on doing NEXT year.
Unless I get carried away again.

There is something I'm rather proud of, though.

It took me 18 months to make, (I stopped working on it for a few months) but still, I'm proud. The top piecing is made of the legs of jeans that were turned into cut-offs, one of Steve's old shirts, my favorite sheet set that got ruined with chewing gum, and some left-over fabric scraps. The batting is made of recycle plastic bottles. I'm less happy with the flip side, but doing this project I learned something about how to make the next one. I gave it to Andy for his birthday. Thoughts? Feedback?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday Andrew

In honor of his 4th birthday, here is an Andrew story:

Last night I dragged out "Go Dog GO" for Nate to read to me.

That book is a great book. Not for the plot, which is fairly contrived, but for the prose. "Two Dogs, In a House, On a Boat, In the water." Pure genius, I tell you.

But I really love that book. I used to read it to Nick all the time, but when they started reading to me it got set aside. I couldn't remember ever having read it to Andrew before.

My favorite part is the part where all fifty seven dogs are asleep. "Now it is night. It is time for sleep. It is not a time for play." (I'm quoting from memory, here, so please don't get angry or upset if I remember things a little differently.) All fifty seven dogs are in the same big, long bed. And they are all asleep except one, who is wide awake.

The next page: "Now it is Day! Get up, Dogs! It is time to get going! Go, Dogs, Go!" And all fifty seven dogs are sprinting for the door in a mad frenzy, except the one dog still asleep in bed, probably because he was awake all night.

The next page has "Dogs in Cars again." And "Where are they going so fast in those cars? What are they going to do?" I usually pause here, because the book is finally starting to take shape and round itself out in terms of plot, meaning that there will be more than three pages actually related to each other.

"Where are they going?" I asked the boys. I expect them to know, because we've read the book before. Also, it turns out they are going to A DOG PARTY, which is just so exciting that my little childhood mind could never take it. No party in my life was ever as fun as that dog party looked to be. Only then I remembered that Andrew didn't remember reading the book. "Do you know where they are going, Andy?"

"Yup." He said, unimpressed.

"Where?" I asked, thinking that maybe he remembered the book after all. "Where are they going?"

"To Breakfast," he said.

As if this wasn't enough, when the dogs were climbing "To the tree! To the tree! To the top of the tree!" (the secret party location) I paused again. "What's up there, Andy?"

Andy's chin was in his hands. He didn't even look up. "Leaves."

Happy 4th Birthday, Andrew. We all love you very much.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ho Ho Ho

OK - I LIKE some of the bad or cheesy holiday movies out there. Even though they are played non-stop on TV.

I like Elf.

I even like Scrooged!

They are really good to have on when wrapping mountains of gifts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Have you ever noticed how many versions of "12 Days of Christmas" there are out there? About a billion. And still people get confused about who is dancing, who is leaping, and which type of bird is which.

And Holiday specials are the same. Yes, there are some really good ones, but there are also so many stupid ones out there.

This year Andrew has discovered a book called "The Night Before Christmas." Also known as "A Visit From St. Nicholas," it was written in 1823, attributed to a Clement Clarke Moore, and is generally responsible for the way we think about Santa Claus to this very day. The version we have is This Papercut Edition, which is just beautiful and classic.

Andy also picked out some holiday music at the library. I was directing him towards something a little more modern, but he chose The Nutcracker. I think he thought it had something to do with drums, based on the cover. We've listened to it three times in the car. Composer: Tchaikovsky. As a ballet, it was not successful. Not at first. But the music caught on.

I know it's just a phase. Next year he'll be begging for the dogs barking jingle bells, I know it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Visit 2011

It's not the formal shot, it's the one I took. I just figured I wouldn't have time to scan a print in. And yes, I know Nate is looking under the little tree there, but the other shot I got was blurry and Nick was making a funny face, so...

In the morning I made them all wear nice shirts. By the time I picked them up from school the shirts were covered in sticky and paint.

Oh, well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

And To Bed

It's not that I don't have anything to say.

In fact, I have quite a bit to say.

I want to write about how, now that I'm crazy busy, I'm somehow not feeling as socially challenged as I usually do.

I want to write about the so called "War on Christmas" and that post on the single Dad blog "I'm a Christian, Unless You're Gay" and how the two are connected.

I want to write about the party favors for Andrew's Birthday Party. And how I'm a liberal in a mostly 'publican town. And how we have half a frozen cow in our freezer.

I want to share holiday joy and cheer!

But I am too tired right now to make the attempt to form a post or write anything coherent. Again. At least you now know what I would be talking about if I were actually talking.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Christmas Kinda!

Hooray we put up our tree!

We also decorated it. And we got a wreath and decorated IT. And I put up the stockings and all the little chinchy things that are holiday oriented.

And I have almost almost completed my holiday shopping - I have a few more things to purchase, but I have lists made for most of it, and only four more gifts to figure out.

Then I can start wrapping.

Oh, I also have to get Andy something for his birthday. Not his big gift, just a couple of little things.

And we have to visit Santa. The Festival Of Trees Santa didn't count. I want the mall Santa so I can get the picture. OH! I also put out the framed photos of our visits with the same Santa ever since Nick was a year old!

I've also started my holiday cards!

Despite my still-very-long to-do list, I feel very good about how much I've accomplished today. I'm hoping I can get stuff done tomorrow, too. The challenge is keeping my cool. By the end of the day I started getting pretty irritated and little boys leaving shoes in odd places and yelling "Mo-ohm!"

I just have to remember that afterwards, when it is all done, baked, wrapped and bowed, I will be able to sit by the fire with a glass of wine and three dozen sugar cookies.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


There is so much to do I absolutely cannot stand it.

In fact, there is so much to do that I started out this post making a list of those things, but I kept thinking of things. The list got so long, and I started to hyperventilate and panic. So I stopped listing.

It wouldn't be so very bad, actually. I enjoy a challenge. Sometimes. I survived the Strawberry Fiasco. I can go from 5:30 to 8:30 without a major disaster and only an hour-long nap. I should be able to find time to shop, wrap, hide gifts, decorate, and bake, while also attending holiday concerts and parties, sending cookies in for parties, arranging playdates, and going to special holiday events. It's just doing this while maintaining a stable day to day schedule, making sure the boys are fed and do their homework, making sure little snoops don't find hidden hidden items... taking the cat to the vet, keeping frank from eating puck's food, cleaning up yet another bowl of grapes that puck knocked to the ground and shattered all over our floor....

I should find time for some meditating. Only I can't. The whole time I'd be thinking of the holiday cards I should be addressing.

See, some people are good at managing these things. I am not. I really do need to run around like a headless chicken until everything is done. And it WILL get done.

And now I'm going to go do it.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Festival Of Trees!

Every year we visit the Festival Of Trees! These photos might make it look a little overwhelming. That's because it IS a little overwhelming. But it's fun. We didn't win a tree, but the fun is in the looking. I didn't get a picture of the hot pink tree Nick was hoping we would win, but if we HAD won it, we would have had to take it home.

There's always next year!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Seasonal Power Outage

This morning, after my alarm went off, I made the choice not to go running. I had a late choir rehearsal last night, and I wanted to get a little more sleep before I started my day. This isn't an easy choice to make, as I sometimes don't fall asleep after the alarm wakes me, and even if I do, I sometimes spend the day wishing I had taken the time to work out.

Five minutes after I turned off my snooze, I hear the dreaded blip that signifies NO POWER. We've had rain for the past few days, and last night the wind picked up. Apparently it was enough to somehow take out a power line.

Maybe it's just me, but I am now unable to not over-react to this sort of thing. In the past, a power outage would mean a few hours in the dark. But these days, each time the power goes out I start out assuming we'll be out for days. I started taking inventory in my mind. Where were the flashlights? Did they have batteries? How long would puck's insulin last in the fridge? Would there be school? How would I find out if there was school without TV or the internet? Should I wake Steve and get him to start the generator? Would the power be back when we put up the tree? Would the power be back in time for Andrew's birthday party? What if it was back for the party but not back in time for me to clean the house? Should I cancel?

I heard the boys wake up. I heard them scramble around and then make a group trip to the bathroom, Andy lighting the way with the Lego-Man Lantern. This is when I got up. I rescued a couple of flashlights and replaced batteries in one. I lit a couple of candles and gave the boys some cereal. I fed the pets and gave puck his medication.

And then the power came back on.

I feel as though my day has brightened already! Even though it's still windy and rainy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Name That Vegetable!

And now, another exciting episode of.... NAME THAT VEGETABLE!

Brought to you by my friendly CSA, a constant source of organic farming, planet friendliness, guilt-free nutrition, and new information.

I, for one, had no idea they grew this way.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Insane Moments

Every so often I catch myself in moments so absurd, I can't even stand thinking about them. Not all of these involve my children directly, although many of them include convoluted conversation topic and me asking children to do things I never, ever thought I would have to ask anyone to do. Such as "Please do not step on your brother's face," or "Please do not put your stuffed animals in the microwave / fridge / oven / toilet."

Today I had one of these moments.

Things were going so smoothly. Nick and Nate made the bus with very little waiting. I had time to put a load of laundry in the washer before leaving the house to take Andrew to school, and I had remembered to bring a book with me, so I could go right to the dentist's office to have my tooth drilled and filled.

As I dropped Andrew off at his classroom, smiling and explaining how he got the huge scratch right under his eye (Nathan ran into him, fingernail first), I saw another parent walk in with a tray of cookies. It was then I remembered that today was December Birthday Day! The day they celebrate all December birthdays in the class. Andrew has a December birthday. And as his parent, I was asked to bring in sliced strawberries.

The request was specific. They sent home a note asking for sliced strawberries, specifically. Enough for 15 children. I had no problem with this. I took the note home and placed it on my fridge. I remembered about it on Friday, when I was at the grocery store, but I didn't want the strawberries to sit around for days and get all yucky - fruit goes bad around here pretty quickly. And then I forgot about it.

Again, this is the moment where a person needs to make a decision. Especially if they have 30 minutes to a dentist appointment. Most people, normal, sane people, would probably just have apologized and moved on with their day. But I am nor normal or sane. "I CAN DO THIS!"

I rushed out the door and to the nearest grocery store. I parked the car and ran in, not even bothering to take my glasses off. I grabbed three containers of strawberries, a kitchen utility knife, a large bottle of water, and a large tupperware bin. I scanned the items myself and stormed out to the car.

I opened the sliding side door and used some of the water to rinse the tupperware. I opened the knife and the strawberries and rinsed them. Then I used the top of the tupperware as a cutting board and sliced two of the three containers of strawberries. In the parking lot of the grocery store. Half in and half out of my car. THIS was my moment. It was unique. I must have looked certifiable.

I made it, though. I dropped the strawberries off and then rushed back to the dentist, which is actually right near the grocery store. It took less than 30 minutes for the dentist to fix my cavity.

The end.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Dropped Ball

It's 5:34 am.

I got up to run before the kids wake up.

And I just realized I didn't write anything for today's post.

Nothing comes to mind, either. At 9am I'm getting a cavity filled. I never used to get cavities, and now I get one every year. Yuck. This will be my fourth.

That's it. Nothing holiday oriented. Nothing cheery. Just.... tooth and drill.

That's why I forgot to write anything interesting.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sunday Stories

We were sitting eating dinner when I realized that I had never seen Nick throw away his chewing gum.

I'm not in the habit of handing out gum, but Nick's friend at karate had given him a gumball, so what could I do?

"Nick, where is your gum? Did you swallow it?"

Nick didn't say anything. He just shrugged and shook his head No.

"It's OK if you swallowed it. It's not great, but you won't get into trouble or anything."

"I didn't swallow it," Nick insisted.

"Well then did you throw it out?"

"No, I didn't throw it out."

You're probably wondering why I cared so much to continue this line of questioning. Keep reading.

"Well then what happened to your gum?"

"It kind of fell out of my mouth."

"It fell? Where? How?"

"I was just opening my mouth, and the gum feel right out."

"Did you pick it up?"

"No. I couldn't find it."

"So there is gum somewhere in the car, a chewed wad of gum, on the seat or on the floor?"

The boys all look at me blankly.

"Guys, you can't have gum just sitting in the car! Someone will sit on it or step it in, and it won't come out!"

Something must have impressed them, because both Nick and Nate checked the soles of their shoes. "Don't worry, Mom. We didn't step on anything."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I was chatting with another karate mother at the coffee shop. She was telling me about how she had to stop drinking coffee because the caffeine kept her up at night.

She got up to get a cup of decaf, and her daughter started talking. This is a little girl we have known for over a year, but recently she has warmed up to us. I know this because she's gone from a quiet, shy little girl to a chatty, funny, inquiring child.

"My mom hasn't had coffe in a year!" She started. "She mostly just drinks a lots and lots of iced tea."

"Well, iced tea will keep her awake, too, if she drinks too much of it."

"Well, she used to drink it all the time, every day, iced tea, all the time. But she doesn't drink so much of it anymore," said the girl.

I shrugged. "Maybe she was drinking it in the summer. It's a great summer drink because it's cool."

"Yeah," she said. "She used to drink it all the time. But now she just drinks wine."

"Me too!" I said.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fitting It In

I really want to see this movie!

It seems simple, really. Place the children in the car, drive to the movie, purchase tickets and popcorn, enjoy film!

But there's so much more to it.

Actually there isn't. It would be very easy to just do that. It's just that there are also so many OTHER things I have to do, also. And doing one thing means I'm neglecting thirteen others.

Our schedule is pretty full on a day to day basis. We have school and karate lessons. On weekends we have church on Sundays. We have birthday parties to go to and a birthday party to throw. The party at our house means I need to restore some sort of order to the belongings that seem to appear in odd places all over our home. In the meantime I need to shop for a number of people, and many of those people are stubbornly difficult to shop for and refuse to forward me any kind of a wish list.

I'm kind of flying by the seat of my pants, here.

All of this business, all of the craziness and the to-do listing, only makes me more determined to take the boys to see the movie. WHY? you ask. BECAUSE, I reply, this time of year shouldn't be about the billion things we have to do. It should be about the time we spend with people we love.

So There!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Darkened Windows

One of the things I love most about the holiday season is the decorations.

No, not the tacky, blow-up, blinky light kind of decorations. I prefer the white lights, the green branches, and colorful ribbons. Just yesterday I finally dragged my boxes of decorations out from the basement, and set up the electric candles in the windows.

This is a lot more difficult than it sounds. See, these candles have these itty-bitty bulbs, and when they burn out it is almost impossible to find a replacement. Also, the candles themselves are very light - lighter than the electric cords that plug them in. In many cases, the cords pull the candles right off the windowsills. I used masking tape to stick them in place.

I also told the boys that, yes, they were exciting and lovely, but that they were strictly off limits. No touching! In fact, if the boys played with the candles and broke them, then I would have to take them all down.

Two hours later... yup. Steve informed me that two of our children had been playing with the candles and had broken one of the bulbs.

And HERE, at THIS point, is what you call a crossroads. This is one of those moments when a parent can make one of two choices. One is right, and one is wrong. Or one is over-reacting, and the other is giving in. Or one is being ruled by your kids, and the other is actually letting them walk all over you.... There are actually many ways of looking at it, but in fact, I could either take the candles down, or go back on my word and leave them up.

I paused. I didn't WANT to take the candles down. I wanted to leave them up. And I frantically searched my brain for some way I could just keep them. But then Steve, who had been unaware of my previous ultimatum, announced that, in HIS opinion, we should not have the electric candles this year at all.

I would like to say I was immediately motivated by the right thing, but the truth is, I was fairly reactive as I stormed off to unplug the electric candles, ball up the cords, and place them back in the huge holiday storage box. But I wasn't. I was, actually, really mad at Steve. "Fine!" I shouted as I stomped up the stairs, acting like a child myself.

This will show him! I thought to myself. Only then I thought, show him what, exactly? Because Steve doesn't care about the candles. In fact, they are kind of a bother. I rush around and turn them on as soon as it gets a little dark, and I refuse to let anyone turn them off until we go to sleep. The kids are always playing with them. Bulbs are always burning out. Pets knock them over...

And after all, this is exactly what I said I was going to do. Remember that audiobook I got from the library, Scream-Free Parenting? It wasn't the most revolutionary parenting book I have ever heard, but it had quite a few really good points. I like to think that parenting books are mostly full of thing you already know, but don't think about in the right context. This book says, and I'm paraphrasing here: we should keep the promises we make to our children.

ALL promises. Promised you a puppy when you turned twelve? Woof! Said I would take your bike to Goodwill if you left it in the driveway? Goodbye bike. And in this case, I told my kids they needed to not play with the electric candles, or they would be removed. So, they would be.

Of course, I was really upset about it. And the boys didn't seem to care. Neither did Steve. In fact, I thought, the only one being punished was me! I tried to turn this around into a reason I could keep the lights up, but in the end I took them down anyway.

I drove off to choir grumbling and fuming.

The worst part was, I just didn't know why I was so upset. These were stupid window candles!

It wasn't until three hours later, after choir, driving home, that I figured it out.

When the candles are on at night, our home looks warm and inviting. You can't see the dry lawn in the front, or the fact the backyard was only mowed once this summer. You can't see the plastic toys scattered in the bushes, or the leaves we never raked up. The house looks, for a little while, like any other home in the neighborhood. It looks relaxing and cheery. You'd never know the floor inside was scattered with toys and socks and checkers from connect 4 games.

Once I figured it out, I wasn't really bothered by it all that much anymore. The reason just seemed so stupid. Instead I found this huge paper chain we made last year and slung it up in the dining room. I had kept the school holiday projects the boys made last year, and I hung those up. It's going to be OK. I think I did the right thing (even though my motivation was unclear.)

And there's always next year!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Holiday Decorating

It's December. It's officially time to decorate!

The main Holiday Decoration in our home is, apparently, dust. At least that's what it seems to be. All of the junk I dragged out of the basement is covered with it.

I have also done a little Holiday Reorganizing on this blog.

I have added a list of links over to the left. The Holiday Cheer links are to music, books, and movies that might add a little something to your holiday season. So far, there are only a couple of things there, and they are the same old things I talk about every single year. But maybe there will be new things, new exciting things! So keep looking.

The Holidays Past links are links to older posts on this blog. I went through the posts I wrote in December, and these are what I thought were the very best, or at least most interesting, holiday posts. There are a couple of videos. The boys are so so young. I cried. Now I dare you to not go look at them.

Also, if you're wondering what to get us for Christmas, but missed that post, the link is up top. But I have a feeling most people are going to give us socks. That's OK, though. We love socks!