Sunday, December 26, 2010

Getting the most out of the season

I can't believe it's the day after Christmas already. For the first time in about two years, I took consecutive days off from work (on purpose and planned ahead!) and did nothing but run around like a mad woman and fight with my family. In other words, I prepared for the holidays.

In the midst of the madness, P and I took a look at each other and realized we were going to miss it all if we didn't slow down and soak it in. Because of custody agreements and crappy logistics, we only get our Boy Wonder every other if we spent this entire past week bickering and stressed...well, guess what? It would be another two years before we got to celebrate with him again. (Oh, gosh, I even hate reading those words.)

So long about Wednesday night, we called a time out. We ate dinner, gave the kids their baths, and loaded everyone up in their pjs into the truck. We stopped off and got hot chocolates from a coffee stand, and we went out in search of adventure. We found crappy light displays, great light displays, living nativity scenes (our personal favorites). We listened to the Christmas music station and we had a contest to see who was the most excited about Christmas. ("Me!" "No, mee!" "Meeeeeeeee!")

By the time Christmas eve rolled around, we were happy and in love with each other and the season again. Which is probably the ONLY reason I didn't freak out and cry when there were no seats at the Episcopal Christmas Eve mass and we had to leave. (Trust me, church is the LAST place you want to feel like you don't fit or belong. I hate it.) Packed back into the truck in our fancy church clothes, I made the off-hand joke that maybe we were a little like the first family thousands of years ago trying to find a place that had some room for them. So we kept going. And we found a church that I used to go to years ago and there was plenty of room and they were happy to see us. The feeling was mutual.

We stayed up late putting together plastic kitchens and basketball hoops and wrapping more presents than I remember buying. As I had just closed my eyes (at least it seemed that way) I heard a tiny voice saying "Mom! Santa came!" It was 3:30 a.m.

By 6:45 a.m., the destruction had hit and the boys were love drunk with new toys and stockings full of chocolate and match box cars. P was exhausted and had blisters on his hand from the 12-hour stint assembling toys. I was comatose and hid underneath my new electric blanket (yes!). My mom took a four-hour nap. But we had made it a beautiful Christmas with a little help and a lot of faith.

Merry Christmas and here's looking forward to an incredible new year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Searching for this year's Christmas Eve-ning

Remember last Christmas Eve?

Well, I'm sure you do, but what I'm specifically referring to is the Christmas Eve traditions post I wrote last year. With shrimp and pajamas in place, sorta, (minus the spiced wine, thanks to the whole pregnancy!), our family is in need of a "movie" that night to distract ourselves from the copious amounts of little shelled sea creatures that will sacrifice themselves for our holiday enjoyment.

My personal favorite is "It's a Wonderful Life," but let's face's in black and white and is a little too introspective to attract the average dweller in my house. We love, love, love the Griswold's "Lampoon Christmas" and after the last couple weeks we've been having around here, well, let's just say maybe we can relate a little more than we should. Ha! But maybe I'm sending the wrong message with that one? (Listen, between the double pink eye infection Boo got himself and the epic meltdowns and face-scratching arguing in these walls, it's enough to want to give up all together and break out the prozac...but we can't. 'Cause that would be cheating ourselves out of the wonder and magic and chaos of the season, right?! That, and we all really like presents around here. Just sayin'.)

Boy Wonder likes "Santa Buddies" and Boo is all about the Caillou Christmas Special (Yuck!). P loves the original "Santa Clause" movie from the 80s and I'm too wrapped around the clothing and hairstyles to let the message sink in much. And me, well, with my penchant for old movies, you can bet I'm usually up late during the holidays watching Turner Classic Movies by myself.

So, if you have a favorite, let me have it. Odd, hard to find, out of date...send them my way. Our Christmas Eve may very well depend on you! (Well, maybe not so much, but at least you might save us from an evening of Santa Buddies and Caillou! Ugh!)

Good luck surviving the last few days of the Christmas crush...we've got a few days left and my to-do list is miles long (including the nagging desire to make these salted caramels! Nums!)


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seven is a grand number

Just ask Boy Wonder.

Last week he had his birthday and I'm still having a hard time remembering that he's no longer five...let alone SEVEN!

I started the letter-writing tradition last year and figured I'd keep it going as long as he seemed interested in hearing them. So here goes.

Dear D,

Seven!!! I can hardly believe it. Just yesterday I was baking you a dino-cake for your fifth birthday at the museum, and now here you are all grown up and leaving me on the side of the pool while you swim with your friends.

There are no two ways about it, are born to swim. In the past year we've dipped our toes in the proverbial pools of about a million sports and activities and they all stick for about 14.5 minutes before you'd rather stay home and watch cartoons than brave the cold weather. But not with swimming. From the moment we started your first lesson when you were three, swimming has been the one thing you never tire of. And you're good at it, kid. We like to joke that with that stretch torso and long legs, you're bound to put Michael Phelps to shame some day. Could happen...

First grade started off as a challenge. Not really because you weren't prepared, more because it was new people and new experiences that were waiting for you after your trip to Texas this summer. You weren't overly thrilled for me to leave your classroom on the first day and after the SHOVE out the door you gave me on your first day of kindergarten, I have to admit I kind of liked it! But you did fine. You've made some great friends who come over and eat all our food and never want to leave because our house is so, well, animated? Yes... that's a good word for it.

You shine in math, little man. Numbers are kind of like legos and you figure out places to put them and make it work. I'm amazed. You're on the road to reading and it's exciting to watch the wheels turn in that brilliant head of yours.

You're learning that being a big brother isn't always easy and sometimes a toddler is a challenge...especially when you have to let go of the power struggle, despite the fact that you're bigger. It's just what you do, kiddo, and you get it. You're protective of Andrew in a fierce, loyal way. I'll probably never forget the hike we took as a family at the end of the summer and Andrew did what wild, carefree toddlers do...he wandered off the path and into the thick of things. The tears on your face were real and you would not calm down until I had him back within arm's reach and safe from the dreaded Cow Parsnip! But that's you...even at such a young age you think it's your job to keep the ones you love safe and happy.

As you grow, I pray you learn balance...that sometimes your job is just to be a kid and laugh, fart, and get in trouble for putting gum in the dog's fur or something harmless like that (though be warned, you will learn what grounding is sooner or later and if you're anything like me, you'll spend a good portion of 4th through 6th grade under house arrest!)

Six flew by, my love. I see a pattern now, and it's bittersweet. Before long, we'll be packing up your room and shipping you off to college (Texas A&M, hopefully! ha!)...but not yet. You're still the boy who wanders around the house with one boxing glove on and a kitchen spoon tucked into your belt like a weapon...and I love you so much for it.