Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Gift for Every Child

Even the furry ones.

Who doesn't like catnip?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Four Gifts

1 - a state of tranquility or quiet
2 - freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions
3 - harmony in personal relations
5 - a pact or agreement to end hostilities beween those at war or in a state of enmity

1 - a desire accompanied by an expectation or belief of fulfillment
2 - to expect with confidence

1 - a strong affection for another
2 - unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

1 - a state of happiness or felicity

I wish you a healthy dose of each. For tonight, for tomorrow, for all of 2013. Forever.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Magical Thinking

My kids believe in Santa Clause.

I'm putting that out there because I know there is a time in every child's life when they stop believing, and I know that this may happen before I am ready.

One of my Facebook friends, someone I knew in high school, posted a query. Why do so many people lie to their children about Santa instead of simply promoting the giving of gifts as a good thing? I asked if we could do both, but what he wanted to know was, why lie at all? Why perpetuate the myth? (He grew up jewish, so he had no experience of it himself.)

My children are extremely sheltered. For all the garbage they pick up on their DS things, for all the chatter they hear on the bus, there is a major source on input they do not receive. TV.  Oh, they watch the TV. They watch DVD's and stream movies and watch episodes of all sorts of shows, not all given the MOM seal of approval.

But we do not watch network TV with our children.

This Christmas, the boys did not come to me with lists and lists of items because they didn't see the commercials so carefully crafted to make every child want, no NEED, every item on the face of the earth.

Last week, when a crazy person barged into a school and shot twenty children Nathan's age, my kids were not subjected to hours upon hours of the news. They were blissfully unaware that anything had happened at all. In fact, it occurred to me that I should probably bring it up, as they would pick up details from other kids, from overhearing the adults, and from the well meaning folk who keep walking in to various classrooms in order to "help the kids sort out their feelings."

I told Nick and Nate that a bad person came into a school and hurt lots of kids and teachers. "But not our school," Nick said. I agreed. And then I told him it was scaring a lot of people, but that to make the school safer, they were going to change a few things. (They are now locking the doors and added the security measure of placing an adult at the front door at all times. I've also been sent the link so that I can volunteer to be one of these adults, a measure which made me roll my eyes in exasperation, but that's a different issue.)

So my children are children. They are young, and they think young. This is something I am so, so grateful for. I have a sneaking suspicion that Nick suspects something about the Santa issue, but goes along with it because he is not yet ready to be "old enough" to not believe. He wants to stay a kid, and I'm going to let him for as long as he wants to be.

I told my friend that, yes, I did lie to my kids, although I don't really consider it lying. I did it not as a behavioral technique, to threaten them with coal when they don't behave, but so that my children can have those moments of magical thinking, those moments of wonder. We balance it out with gifts for each other, for our family. We give to the giving tree at the library and to food pantries and soup kitchens. And when they are old enough to want to stop believing, they'll stop. But I hope they will still remember the feeling of magic. I hope they will still find joy in the act of giving.

And finally, for the record, I want you to know that I misspelled the word "Believe" every single time I typed it in this post. That i-e thing gets me every single time.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

This Crazy Garbage

Something happened Thursday night.

The phone must have rung, because I found myself listening to a message. It was one of those messages the schools have started using, they call you with a recorded message and it usually says something like "There is a 90 minute delay this morning due to snow / ice / the power outage." Or sometimes "busses 23, 17, and 8 are running twenty minutes late."

But it was 11:30 at night. and it was not, as far as I knew, snowing.

It was a message from a school district official who was rambling on about some threat to the schools in our town. He had heard about it from some people, and at first they thought it was for same-name town in CT, but then it turned out that no, it was for our town here in NH. And then he went to the police and it turns out the police didn't even KNOW about the threat, so now the town police knew and the state police too, and also the FBI, but don't worry, there would be a police presence at every single one of our schools the next morning.

I know we have to take threat seriously, but this message angered me.

Perhaps it angered me because, moments before getting into bed, I received an "invitation" from the PTA to all PTA volunteers to "man the doors" during school hours. See, after the school shooting last week, they have started locking the doors to the schools, and now they need people standing there opening them. This is called "increased security."

So if you're wondering what that looks like, take a look my way. It's people like me, with no training, with no special skills, just opening doors for however many hours. Forgive me my candor, and my possible coldness. I don't want to be insensitive or rude, but just how is this supposed to stop a crazed killer armed to the gills? I am not a maniac, have never held a gun, get nervous when I think a police officer is carrying when we're in the same room. But even I could figure out how to get past a couple of moms and two school secretaries. Except for the fact that there are only 7 parking spots in a school of over 700, and everyone has to walk a half mile. THAT's your security right there.

Anyway, Steve and I both listened to the message and decided that this threat seemed unfounded. It was... vague. We decided to send our kids in to school.

Actually, the next morning I asked the boys if they wanted to go. It was the last day of school before break, the day of parties and games and crafts. Of course they wanted to go.

So I sent them.

Many, many people kept their kids home. Why chance it? parents asked.  I could kind of see how that would work - last day, not missing anything academic. But hey, my kids complain about school so often that any day they want to go I will cling onto, Right?

Besides, I was supposed to be at Nate's party. And I could make Nick's library time.

It was pouring rain. I had to park a half mile away. I was lugging Nate's forgotten library books from earlier that week. When I got to the building, I was met by two police officials and the usual hallway greeter. They asked me for ID. I had forgotten mine in the car. The rain immediately picked up. My bag fell in a puddle. I wasn't wearing a coat. I arrived at the library dripping and freezing cold. I was snippy to the police and the sign in guy and had to apologize when I left.

Half of the kids in Nick's class were missing.

On the flip side, almost all the kids were in Nate's class.

It turned out not to be a viable threat. Because it was all so, "I heard from these people who heard from someone who read on this website" and junior high "he said that she said that SHE  said" and it turned out that the threat was, indeed, made for schools in CT. Also, there was some kind of threat tweeting making riot today that was somehow linked to the Mayan calendar actually HAVING AN END instead of, what, going on indefinitely? Don't people think that would be stranger? And I am just so ANGRY at the school district guy for feeling the need to leave a convoluted message RIGHT AWAY, spreading hysteria and causing panic. I'm angry at people for letting themselves be panicked and angry at the stupid stupid thoughtless and heartless people who think this is a laugh a minute and I hope they get what's coming to them, whatever that may be. Preferably life with no electronic devices EVER AGAIN.

I'm glad school is over. I'm glad we are at home for the next couple of weeks. I'm so happy to get to deal with family, but so angry at society and it's stupid rules and stupid laws that says I can't buy too much cough medicine for my kids but hey - I can walk into a Wall MArt and purchase rounds of ammo no problem.

My vacation is from society. I'm out.

Friday, December 21, 2012


It's when the earth has tilted as far as it will go in one direction, and starts tilting back to the other side. Days will start getting longer again, which is great because these "days" are not even 8 hours long. You could literally sleep through the day without half trying.

This is my reason to celebrate. The renewal of light and life.

AS long as we're all still here tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Busy Season

What Christmas Looks Like

This year, for teacher gifts, I decided to make tins of cookies.

I used to do this every year I was in HIgh School, for my teachers and my friends, thanks to Larissa. Larissa was very organized - in fact, she managed the whole thing. Which was great, because at the time I had the organizational skills of... someone with no organizational skills.

Even so, each year I would have a meltdown in the kitchen over making the madeleines, which require clarified butter, and always stuck to the pan. So this year, I remembered the chaos and decided to stick to four simple kids of cookies. None of which were the pre-made pillsbury kind, which tend to do this:

I spent all afternoon Monday making cookie dough. I baked on Monday night and Tuesday. I decorated the rest of Tuesday and into Tuesday night.  I over did it, actually. We now have enough cookies to pass out to another 10 teachers. But I don't care. We have them on hand, I can throw together a nice plate for emergency situations.

And during all of this,  the Elf had to remember to move itself every night. And the Tooth Fairy had to pay us a visit. And this morning Nate had to remember to wear green for Grinch Day, and Andy had to remember to wear red for his holiday concert. And Nicholas's teacher requested that we please make our child a special lunch for today, and put in a little gift, wrapped please, and the things our child love the most to eat, and then wrap the box itself, and them label it so there are no mix-ups as to who gets which wrapped lunch. Which is great because every morning I am in a rush just t pack my kids snack, forget lunch, which they usually get from school. I don't have time to make a special lunch in secret and then wrap it. So instead I make it the night before, and I was kind of in a panic about what to pack that would be OK to be packed 16 hours ahead of time. Also, Nick hates all packed school lunches except leftover tacos, and we didn't have any. And when the other two find  out Nick got a special gift I'm never to hear the end of it!

But now it's all done. 1 more teacher gift to deliver, and I'm all good. I just need to rush to the vet to pick up insulin needles, and then I can.... start wrapping gifts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Time!

... kind of. We're getting ready.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday Andrew

Happy Birthday to my amazing little boy! I love you so much, and I'm so glad you're you!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hurt in the Heart

Yesterday I overdid it.

Andy was still out of school, but I had to drive there anyway to drop off the puzzle he was giving for the holiday puzzle swap. Then I went grocery shopping, because we had to eat. After that I drove to the school, for Nick's Library Time.

I'm comfortable at that school. I had to use the copier - I'm comfortable with the copier. I managed to create 200 double sided copies. My biggest concern that morning was not chopping my fingers off with the paper cutter. I know the library well, too. I can comfortably shelve books, find books, help kids choose books...

I must have overdone it. When I got home I was tired. I didn't fel sick. I felt tired.

And then I checked the internet. And read about the shooting.

I have to say, I didn't have an immediate reaction. I was getting snippets of information, nothing whole, and I had Andy to make lunch for and I was hungry myself.

And then I decided we would take a nap.

And then I started feeling really sick.

And then my head started pounding behind my eye. I had one of my headaches. I don't get them a lot. Usually I get them when I'm really stressed out about something. They are really bad. It hurts to move. It hurts to open my eyes. The light actually creeps through my eyelids and I have to bury my hed under a pillow, or in my case, pull my nightshirt, usually stored under my pillow, and wrap it around my head like a blindfold.

I blame the news.

I still had no grasp on what had actually happened. I kept asking "why would a person do this?" I wasn't dwelling on it, but it kept coming back to my mind. As if it mattered. As if there were ever a real reason for taking someone's life. Especially the life of a child. Let alone twenty. At a school, for God's sake.

I spent three hours in bed. I would stay motionless until I couldn't stand it anymore. Then I would check the internet for updates. Then I would cry some more, and then I would have to turn the computer off again because my head was pounding.

I have my own ideas about how such a tragedy happened. I have my own ideas about what should be done in response. No everyone shares those ideas. Some people feel the exact opposite should be done. I do not understand those people. All that I can hope for, now that my head is better and my mind has been able to wrap itself around the event, is that we as a society learn something from this. Maybe a few somethings.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hitting My Head With A Hammer

After feeling sick for so very long, I've started to feel better.

It feels awesome, actually. I'm tired, and I still have a temperature over 99, but my body is not hurting. I'm congested, but my head doesn't ache each time I turn my head. It's not so much that I feel GOOD. It's just that I've felt so horribly horrible for what seems like so long, that just not being in pain anymore is euphoric.

Like that thing about hitting your head with a hammer. It feels so good when it stops.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

From Here To Eternity

You know what eternity is?

You get a glimpse of it when you're really sick. I've felt it before, when I had food poisoning, and then when I had that stomach bug. And then, now.

It's that feeling of not remembering exactly what it was like to feel well. It's forgetting that there ever was a time I didn't have this congested head, a headache. Forgetting that I ever could take a deep breath without hacking coughing, or sneeze without severe pain in my throat.

You know how I know I'm really really sick? I have stopped even trying to keep up with the housework. I mean, the clean laundry is piled up on the laundry room floor, and I haven't cleaned the cat box in days, and there is cat litter getting all over it, and I don't care.

I know I'm sick because I don't even finish my first cup of coffee in the morning.

I know I'm sick because I would rather turn the TV on and let the boys watch it for the 6th day straight, even if I did find out they were watching Baby Bratz.

I know I'm sick because I'm spending my third day in this bed, and I'm not even trying to move. I will probably spend the rest of my life here, in this bed. I'm too tired to get out of it. Even when I get so thirsty my mouth feels like rubber.

Of course it really isn't eternity. And I can't imagine what it feels like to be really, really sick. To be on bedrest for months, to fight with chemo, or to live with a terminal illness. Then forever might actually be forever,  until the end.

I know, in my head, it won't always be this way. I know it's just for now, and that, at some point, maybe tomorrow, I'll wake up from one of these odd dreams I've been having, and the fist thing I feel won't be muscle aches or my head throbbing. It will be peace. I will be relaxed.

I'm just being a little dramatic at the moment.

This is karmic payback for sneering at those clorox wipes commercials, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cold Or Flu?

Today's episode of Medical Mystery: Is it a cold, or is it the flu?

We've been sick. I think I've mentioned that.

I can't tell you when I wrote the post about us being sick. I've lost track of the days. All I know is that I've been miserable for about... well, for about forever.

For a long time I thought that "The Flu" meant vomiting. A stomach bug. But I was wrong. "The Flu" is actually a lot more like a cold. In fact, the CDC website says it's almost impossible to tell the difference between cold and flu without special tests. The WebMD site says there is a slight difference in fever and muscle aches.

I usually let the indicator be the fever. If there is no fever, it's just a cold. Also, colds are much more common than the dreaded flu, no matter what panicked parents and doctors waiting to jab you with needles say. However...

I've been wondering if what we have could be the flu. I was sticking with Bad Cold, but then my fever spiked at over 101, and I'm the type that commonly registers in at 96.8.  It's very high for me, is what I'm getting at. That, and the boys have existed in three states of being: cranky and fighting, zombie, or asleep. Nathan slept for fifteen hours straight this weekend. And even when I thought it was over and sent everyone back to school, I was there 3 hours later picking everyone up again.

So... yeas, I have fever and muscle aches, which makes me think it's the flu. But then again, I'm sneezing and congested, which makes me think it could possibly be a cold. Of course, I'm a bit paranoid, and so I spent a little too much time on the internet researching the sound of the whooping cough, comparing them to the coughs that punctuate our daily lives.

Another thing - Steve is also sick. And a little over a week ago he received his first flu shot in years. So that reduces the chances that it's flu, right?

Except no, it doesn't because every flu virus is different, and the flu shot is merely the prediction of which strain of flu will be most rampant in the population, so if another strain of flu wins out or attacks, you could still get the flu, right? At least, this was what I understood.

In the end, I guess it makes no difference. Except that I like to know. If I can tell people "We all had the flu" they might be more inclined to let us off the hook and not worry about the homework we had to do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Same Old Story

Blogger tells me I'm once again out of space.

I deleted a number of old photographs from old posts, but I can't seem to add as many as I delete. Probably because the cameras are getting more and more sophisticated and it takes more and more memory to store a picture.

At the same time, it should be simpler to store larger digital items.

I get 1 GB of space.

If I paid $2.50 a month I would get 25 GB of space.

And I could just upload tons of pictures and not have to worry about blabbing on and on...

Also, its faster. By now I'd have had most of the week pre-posted.

Instead, I'm tired and sick and wondering if paying for this would be the worst thing on the world, of if I should scrap it, or just write words, or keep deleting photos one after another until I can only keep a weeks worth of photos up there at a time...

What should I do, universe? Send me a sign!

What's that? You say I should just stop typing and think about this tomorrow?

OK. That's what I'll do, then.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Not as good as yesterday

We are all sick.

Thursday Nate cam home from school all droopy and quiet. I caught him sitting against the wall not doing or saying anything, which is very unusual for him. He had a temp of 101.

The next morning, Nick had a temp of 102, and Nate's had skyrocketed to 103,  so I called them in sick.

And I went about my business as bet I could, trying to do secret holiday things, go grocery shopping, etc, but with the boys at home.

Saturday, the older boys seemed better.Nate was still a bit sluggish, so Steve took him to get the Christmas tree while I took the other two to karate. Then I took all boys with me on an errand, and we arrived back hom just in time to make it to a Birthday Party Andy had to go to when... he told me he felt sick. And he had a fever.

At this point I was convinced - 100% sure - that Nick and Nate were better and that Andy was just getting the illness, but that by Monday, today, it would be history.

Sunday morning Nate's fever had returned and he was coughing. Andy was feverish and coughing. But the worst, the very worst thing, is that I was also not feeling well. I was feeling so unwell, in fact, that I chose not to go to church. I never don't go to church. I love church and I sing in the choir and I go to rehearsal and practice the choir songs so by golly I usually move heaven and earth to get myself to church just so I can sing. I've gone there with colds and with half a voice.

But not yesterday.

As the day went on, things got worse. We put on movie after movie for the boys. I took some Nyquil and gave Nate some cough syrup, which knocked him out. He slept from 2pm to 3pm in the living room, then we put on a movie that I slept through, then I climbed into be at 5pm and NAte climbed in with me. And we both slept. I woke up to eat and to change into PJ's, but Nate said no. He stayed in that bed until 7am.

Yesterday I took it easy. I didn't do anything I didn't have to. I let Steve make lunch and dinner for the boys.

When I got up this morning I figured it would be the same. I'd just take it easy.

 But the things is, everything I didn't do yesterday is still waiting for me. The trash is grossly full and it stinks. The dishwasher needs emptying and the dishes need doing. The laundry needs folding and putting away, and I really need to get another load in before Nate runs out of pants. And Steve is sick now, too, so he will be no help.

So really...I'm not going to get to rest today, am I?

Saturday, December 08, 2012


Andy, looking like an Elf.

For my birthday last year, someone gave me an Elf-On-The-Shelf.

When I was a kid, Santa knew who was naughty or nice because he Just Knew. He was always watching. like Big Brother. Like the yet unformed Homeland Security. All knowing and all powerful, and you better think twice before wonking your brother over the head with that doll, even if he DID chew her fingers off.

These days, despite the advances in technology, Santa relies on a team of tiny and terrifying looking elves. Elfs? Elves? What's the plural here? Anyway, Santa uses them.

You get this Elf, which is supposed to sit on your shelf and keep a watch on your kids. The elf looks like a little doll, in that it doesn't move, and it's got a frozen expression. In this case, the expression is eerie and more than a little frightening.

To make matters worse, the elf MOVES IN THE NIGHT. YES! At night it travels back to the North Pole, fast as lightening, and then reappears at dawn in a different location, to see how the kids act from different angles, I suppose. One morning he's on the bookshelf, the next morning he's hanging from the light fixture. And the next he's perched on top of the piano.

I mean, it really moves! All by itself! It would have to. Otherwise, that would mean that a large number of well meaning but most likely misguided parents are actually sneaking around and changing the location of this inanimate object in order to fool their children into thinking their every move is being monitored and judged.

I'm not sure which is creepier.

You also get to name your elf. My kids chose our elf's name. It's Ooshykablob. I was hoping for something cute, like Snowflake, or Crinkle. But Ooshykablob won out.

Ooshykablob is quite lazy. He doesn't do mischief, like the elves in some of our friends' houses. He also doesn't always move. I tell the kids this is because he wasn't sure, or just couldn't be bothered to take the trip all the way back to the North Pole... I mean, Every NIght? He's got to rest sometimes.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Doing Things

A couple of Sundays ago, we did an exercise at church. They passed out paper and pencils and we were asked to write down everything we had to do between then and Christmas.

People laughed, and sniggered, and a few people like me started scribbling like crazy because there was no way I would have time to put everything down, but I remembered most things from when I'd made this list for myself the day before...

And then afterwards, we were asked to think of these things in a different way. Instead of thinking about the list as things we HAD to do, we should think of them as things we GOT to do.

And then this past Sunday we had a sermon at church about the season and reminding us to take time to feel the wonder, to enjoy it instead of just being busy busy busy.

I guess I tend to get introspective about some church sermons.

Anyway, I have decided to apply these things to this holiday season. I'm not going to worry so much about the shopping and the wrapping. Instead, I'm going to just enjoy things. I'm going to take my kids to the cookie swap. I'm going to decorate the Christmas tree with my kids next weekend. I'm going to listen to The Christmas Can-Can 10 times a day because my kids keep asking to hear it. I'm taking Andy to The Nutcracker.

The point is, I'm planning on enjoying Christmas this year. Less to dos, and more get tos. I want it to be Christmas like when I was a kid, all lights and ornaments, very little stress.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Candles In The Window

This is what Christmas looks like.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Piano Recital #2

Before the 2012 Christmas Piano Recital
We declared the event a success.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Getting To Look A Lot Like Christmas "Round Here

Nicholas - 2011

I bought new electric candles for our windows.
I ordered hanging bells for an inside door.
I've hung the paper chain in the dining room.
The gold ornaments are hanging from the light fixtures in the dining room. 
The kids holiday projects are hung in the hall.
The holiday card ribbon is hanging and ornaments and cards are already on it.

Christmas is coming, ready or not.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Cause and Effect

"Of COURSE it's snowing outside!" Nathan just said to him brothers.

"It's December today! The first day in December. That's why!"