Saturday, December 24, 2011

Visions from egg nog dance through my head...

~"In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukka' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukka!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'~Dave Barry

Last Christmas, as lay sprawled among the wreckage of wrapping paper and boxes I thought to myself -"Next year will be so much easier"... All of the kids will be in school full time..I will be able to leisurely shop, wrap and bake while fully(and fashionably) dressed with combed hair in a sparkly clean house... I will send Christmas cards and packages- EARLY!..In the evenings, I will greet my husband at the door with a cocktail and a "Darling-how was your day?" and as I sashayed into the kitchen to check on the roast.. my angelic children (washed and in clean pajamas) would gleefully announce(for some reason in British accents) "Oh Mummy..Father's come home!" Later on, after the children were tucked into their beds...we would sit in front of the fire sipping eggnog...just enjoying each others company. 
  I have absolutely no idea where this fantasy came from.  I blame the egg nog.   I mean, I don't even have a fireplace!  I certainly don't know how to sashay..and at the end of the day-I'm just happy that Omar is home and I have another adult to talk to. I have been alone-with children..for if anyone is going to get a cocktail it will be me. Especially after getting the kids (well, really just the girls) to put on their pajamas-something which can take mediation skills and intense negotiation. (Although, it is very good training if I should ever find myself in a hostage crisis)  So, when the kids finally do get to bed-we both kind of collapse on the couch together..
  No, holidays at my house are chaotic events. ALWAYS.  That is just the nature of things.  Although, I did start the month off with a clean house. There is something to be said for that.  I don't know "what" exactly ...but something.  Unfortunately, by the third of the month, it was a mess...and has remained that way ever since. I have tried to keep know-moving piles of things from one place to another...but the next day more stuff seems to magically appear to take its place..until I find myself cramming things in drawers and closets..that I swear I am going to clean out "once the holiday is over".  But I never do. No-I just keep cramming more stuff in them. Some of my cabinets are packed so precariously (I wouldn't be surprised if there were a fifth child stuffed somewhere in there)-that I have developed actual techniques of how to open and get them to shut again-without (hardly) anything falling on my head. But I digress...
  The month of December started with a clean house...but then Zoe got sick...and then Lily...and then Oscar..and Sam..and Oscar again.( Thankfully, they are all hale and hearty now-just in time for school break.) Having sick kids at home meant I could not Christmas shop very easily. Oh-I got it done..but it was very rushed.  Thankfully, I had their Christmas lists to guide me.  Lists that they start writing in June.(Only because there are times when I need a moment to think-and this can occupy them for a whole five minutes).   The girls wanted every Littlest Pet Shop...Oscar-every Angry Bird..and Sam...well, his list was 32 very detailed items long...which, he informed me was only half of what he wanted. Don't get me wrong-my kids aren't demanding..nor are they spoiled. This is the one time of year that we go all out with gifts.  They do appreciate it...although they think that Santa is their benefactor (except for Sam) . Which can make for some interesting conversations.."Mama, I'm asking for a new Nintendo 3D for Christmas." "Well..remember, you don't get everything on your list...and those are kind of expensive." "Well..I think I'm going to get one." "I wouldn't count on it..they are expensive." "So. It is from Santa..he just has to make doesn't cost anything."  *sigh* Kind of hard to argue a fantasy that you have thoroughly encouraged.  "Well..we will just have to wait and see.."
  Besides shopping, we have had many extracurricular activities.  I have had meetings and appointments and my girls have had scouting. This year, both of them decided to join Girl Scouts.   This month, besides their regular girl scout meetings...there was the Christmas party( and the singing to the seniors.  Maybe it is just me...alright, I KNOW it is just me-but, when I think about being elderly..the last thing I would want is 20 or more young girls singing loudly at me. VERY loudly about red nosed reindeer..and Santa..or the weather. To me, it feels almost like..well, punishment. As if we are saying "we had no place else to sing and you can't run away- ha ha!"  I must say, the people did seem to enjoy it...although, I suspect many of them took out their hearing aids beforehand. 

  We also did quite a lot of baking. I thought it would be a good way to teach measurements and how to follow a recipe.  I wound up doing the majority of it as my kids ran screeching through the house pumped full of sugar.( Sometimes I think that they would make a wonderful alternative fuel source. Feed them lots of sugar and then put them on a treadmill-which would be connected to a generator. Voila! The worlds energy problems would be solved.)  They did enjoy decorating the cookies-between bouts of sugar induced hysteria.  I was left with all the broken ones. I think I did a nice job. 

  So here it is..Christmas Eve.  The tree is up, the presents are wrapped..the house is a mess (I'll clean it after the holidays) and my children are insane excited. It certainly didn't happen the way I fantasized it last year. But that's o.k. because there is always next year-and besides, I have plenty of egg nog.  
To everyone-no matter what you may celebrate-I wish you all happiness and peace.  "May the road rise to meet you-and may the wind always be at your back." (from The Irish Prayer)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thankful...for the predictable..and the not so...

~" You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled."~

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

     Sometimes it's hard to be thankful...well, not so much hard.(to me)-as it is to forget to be.  I know that in my life, I can get so caught up in the "what's next"..that I forget to look at the "what's now".  There are days..weeks..when all my time is spent planning for the next IEP, the next hurdle to get over ...the next "thing" that needs to be done..that I rarely take the time to stop and see where I am standing.  That is why I like Thanksgiving.   Spending a whole day with (most of ) the people who are important to me.  It is also the only day of the year that we eat as a family. What with food issues and Omar's work hours..we rarely sit down together-much less share a meal.

  With the herd-I'm a short order cook. Texture, taste, smell...all those things effect how the herd eats. Sam likes some chicken, burgers, mac and cheese and pizza...Oscar likes bagels..tomato soup..and pizza...Lily-my adventurous girl..will try anything (even the heart and liver Omar cooks from the turkey on Thanksgiving...ick!!!!!!) and Zoe..she likes Pizza and chocolate-not in that order. They do get fruit and vegetables(well, carrots) and plenty of yogurt. They are all growing and healthy-so I'm not going to complain. Why mess with something if I don't need to?  That doesn't mean I don't...suggest that they might like to try something different..
"Hey Oscar...on you think that you might like to try some turkey and potato's?"
"O.K. sure"
"Great...what about you Sam?"
"Of course I will."
"Wonderful...Lil.I KNOW you'll enjoy our feast..."
"I can't wait!"
"What about you Zo?"
"No. I don't like it."
"Well alright then...everyone except Zoe is going to try Thanksgiving dinner this year-I'll make sure there is pizza for you Zo.."
"Pizza!...I want pizza."
"But Oscar-you said you would try turkey this year..."
So..I left it at that...even though I knew that it was more than likely that three of them would wind up opting for pizza..which really is fine by me.  You see,  I HAVE to ask if they will try turkey-it's kind of like a holiday tradition in our house- just like the "annual making of difficult costumes" has become for Halloween ...or the "I'm going to call Santa if you don't stop doing that" threat at Christmas.  It is just how we do things.  Although sometimes I wonder if I'll be asking the same question when I'm eighty....I'm hoping that by then they are cooking for me. Or at least ordering out for pizza..I definitely hope I won't be using the Santa threat...

  On Thanksgiving, we all sat down at the table-that held a beautiful meal cooked by the obligatory pizza. Sam did manage to take a few microscopic bites "It is really good-but I'm more of a pizza kind of guy" Oscar and Zoe didn't even try to pretend..and Lily had a bit of everything. As I do every year-I went around the table asking everyone what they were thankful for...and as they do every year..I was told.."I am thankful for you and coming..Mario..-predictable but nice.  Later on, Sam came to me and asked "What are you thankful for Mama?", you have to this point it had been a long couple of days. The holiday had started with Oscar coming home sobbing(carrying a crushed box) on Tuesday because he had dropped the pie he had made us- on the of course I grabbed a fork and started to eat his smashed pie telling him it was perfect and delicious while ignoring the boot print on it and smiling as I convinced myself that the crunchy parts were just bits of under cooked apple...and then the next day it snowed and school was was gloomy and cold out...and the herd had been stuck inside..and they(the girls) had a bit of "cabin fever"... I had just broken up the zillionth fight between my banshee's screaming mimi's daughters.....*sigh* of course it had to do with "littlest Pet Shop" maybe that's why I answered the way that I did........"What am I thankful for?.." "yeah"..."Well, I'm thankful for our family..and coffee..and......that there aren't any werewolves living by us." (Really-I am..with all this "Twilight" movie obsessiveness going on-you'd think that werewolves would be great-hello?  They are predators! They EAT PEOPLE!-so I am glad that they aren't around..besides I already have three dogs..and could you just imagine how much a werewolf sheds?)  I really have no idea of WHY I said the minute it came out of my mouth-I regretted it. I was(selfishly) afraid it would lead to a discussion about Big Foot...something that Sam is very interested in great DETAIL...with charts, graphs, eye witness testimony and video clips...along with the "Loch Ness Monster" and the "Chupacabra"...But-he didn't take the bait. Instead, he looked at me and said "We have a weird family"..."Ummm..I guess?..does that upset you?" "No-I like it." "Me too certainly keeps life interesting huh?"  " really does"

   Just like my girls, I have a hard time sitting still..Most days, I feel like a racehorse being released at the sound of the alarm in the morning. Truth be told-I like it that way.  Which makes days like Thanksgiving a little more special for me.  That does not mean however,  that I wasn't thankful to see them get on the bus Monday morning..I was(after being stuck inside for five days)..truly thankful (especially my girls!) almost as thankful as I am about the werewolves...