Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Twas the night before Christmas, about 2:00. The presents were arranged, the stockings hung by the chimney with eggnog and an overabundance of chocolate consumption to fuel the final stages of preparation.

Opening presents requires great concentration. Notice the right hand in action? Daddy set that up, but still, action.

Look Ma, no hands. And a lolli-lobotomy.

Hannah was fascinated by the dog eating a Christmas treat.

Holly studies up on Lego building codes.

Nice niece.

The iPod Touch is much more fun once you get it loaded up with stuff.

So many manuals, so little time.

Again, Daddy on the technical manuals and Barbie set up, while Mom runs the camera and attempts to load an iPod with loathsome games. Fail to mom, score for Dad.

I told you "One day, my prince will come. Why does he look like a beach bum?"

I had told Claire that Santa gave some presents and Mommy gave others. A few days after Christmas Claire came to me unbidden and said "Thank you for the robe, Mama. I really love you. But who gave me the Barbie?"

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas tradition: the ties that bind

This is for Write of Passage - see here for details

As a child I struggled against my mother's Christmas traditions. I found certain of the strictures beyond enduring and others filled me with comfort and joy, just like the songs we sang at church.

Christmas trees were decorated on Christmas Eve only, and taken down on Epiphany. During the pre-Christmas season of Advent, an ancient German glitter bespecked cardboard bird was hung in the house, and our parents told us Walter would tell them and Santa how we'd behaved, and if we would deserve presents. Our Christmas morning began with stockings to be opened by each person at their speed of choice, either as fast as possible in one's own bed, waiting for the others to get up and enjoy each other, or slowly, over the course of the day or even the twelve days of Christmas. All stocking presents were wrapped in gaily colored paper, and every single thing in the stocking, even Kleenex, was wrapped except gold coins in the toe and candy canes at the top, peeking out, just so. Our breakfast was always, and I mean always, Little Sizzlers sausages, grapefruit halves, and Sara Lee pecan coffee cake. We had to go to church and on our return we could finally get at the presents. Before we began to open "tree" presents we would first open the "couch" presents that were all presents from anyone other than immediate family. All tree presents were wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with red ribbon, no exceptions. Friends might call me at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. to compare our respective loot, only to find I had not yet opened any of the real presents.

Some of these traditions remained difficult to carry on. I challenge you to wrap a bicycle in sheets of white tissue. When my sister married her husband balked at the white tissue. My husband snorts with laughter when I swear at the layers of wrapping as I put tissue on gifts, then ask him to stick his finger in to help me knot the ribbon. Five family gifts this year went out from my house in white butcher paper as a compromise, and I probably had only ten presents in white under my tree. After blackmailing my daughter with Santa's ever watchful eyes, I didn't hang my Walter bird and tell her he'd be observing her, because I thought that might be a lot of pressure for a three year old, and, she might put his eye out. Still, I wrap every gift in the stockings save candy, at great personal cost to my sleep in the weeks before Christmas. I don't attend church anymore, and I miss the Advent hymns, but I can't remember them well enough to torture my children with more than an opening line. My tree must be large to hold all my cherished ornaments and it looks just like my mother's always did.

When I was young I hated the waiting; now I can hold onto presents for days without batting an eye, in fact, I feel joy in the savoring. This may have been the beginning of me actually learning anything at all about patience. When I was young I did not know how comforting patterns were, and how disturbing to have the people around us change. As a parent, the necessity of routine is much more apparent, and I know now what it is to feel lost when the pattern is lost.

This year my mother ate her sausages at our Christmas brunch at my sister's home, and liked the sausage links I brought. Perhaps a woman shouldn't know and love the taste of a certain type of frozen sausage but she does. I brought a sauage I like better and so we didn't have Little Sizzlers but she liked fresh maple links more. We laughed, but it hurt just a little to see her change. It's her second year without a Christmas tree in her home, as the physical effort to put it up and take it down has become too great for her and my dad. Change is coming, and it won't be easy. I hope it tastes as good as maple.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fa la la la la, la frickin' la

Time? Where have you gone? You frickin' taskmaster. You've left me here twisting in the wind, a cold and bitter wind I might add. If I destroy a clock and a calendar in a ritual burning and I perform all the right incantations could I get some time added to my life? I see that bumper sticker that says time spent fishing cannot be deducted from a man's life, but if I paid to add some fish to that guy's river could I get a couple extra hours?

Today found me taking a day off work, sending the girls to day care, sorting through the entire mighty toy collection in our living room so I could downsize it to make way for new items that might be coming if a certain redhead stops screaming no at me. We like a largish sort of tree, once that needs its own zip code, so it is best to remove some pieces of furniture before the tree gets here. All of this meant that I might as well dust the mantle so I can proudly display my Christmas cards sans dust bunnies and parts of dead flies, and I finished up eleventy zillion Christmas cards but didn't get them to the post office, and I baked twelve loaf pan sized carrot cakes of joy to serve as gifts to day care teachers and neighbors who please me. I sent clouds of powdered sugar out beyond the expected mess perimeter making the cream cheese frosting and blamed Lord Honey for the cake he dropped and broke (I think he wanted to ensure one carrot cake would stay with us.

For a few days earlier in the week I felt like I could make it all happen. Sure it would be busy, there would be no knitting or blogging time as every non work non child moment would be filled with planning, purchasing, ordering or wrapping, but still I was filled with the joy of the season and the feeling I could do it all. Not any more. Now I think I might scream. My mind is filled with questions such as why the tender touch doll available in different races has the Latino doll smiling the most, white next, black after that (and not a big smile) and the Asian doll is virtually not smiling at all. Why? What about these posable wooden families who come in "contemporary outfits, these 4-pc wood families have flexible arms and legs for sitting, standing, and greeting company." Will they have a lot of company? The laundry day play set will likely fall flat at our house, since my children have never seen me use an iron. Some of these things just plague me. And I know I'll be running around next week without a bit of peace. Not one bit.

Five days left people, five days left. Ho, ho, ho.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Four years and two babies ago

Exactly four years ago tonight, Lord Honey and I came home from our wedding and went to bed, to sleep. We were exhausted and exhilarated and ready to fly to Hawaii the next day, if only to get warm. I remember feeling so overcome with emotion, and grateful, and hopeful, it kind of cracks me up to reflect on how I felt. I had wondered if Lord Honey was the right man for me, but made up my mind to give it my best. Now looking back, with all that water under the bridge, the reasons to worry look pretty different. And how would you know just what water would go under your bridge, and just whose skills would be needed? That multiple times I would call Lord Honey from a hospital room, shrieking about a baby coming too soon, or a baby coming now, or a baby that came and then went floppy, and all the rides in the car back and forth to the babies, and all those sleepless nights. And he was calm, Water, bridge. Bridge, water. Talk amongst yourselves, we need to grab a cup of coffee. And then the little things, more like puddles on the edge of the water under the bridge, like Lord Honey singing "The Battle of New Orleans" with me in a call and answer fashion while I shower and then finding the video of the song on You Tube. These were things I didn't see coming when I made my wedding vows.

Sweet Hannah got sent home from daycare today, after her caregiver was worried by how much she coughed while she napped, so she woke her up! So we opted not to put the girls at the babysitting night they were hosting at the day care, and instead stayed home with the wee ones and had pizza and watched Up. While I put the girls down one by one, Lord Honey crashed on the sofa and now refuses to go to bed although he cannot wake up enough to watch our grownup movie. This must mean we really are an old married couple. I had at least hoped for some anniversary action, but by the time I go to bed I'll be too tired myself. Maybe next week.

Friday haiku: anniversary thoughts

The deli clerk at
our grocery store says Jason
is "not bad looking!"

Unfailingly kind,
faithful and true, and gentle
and tolerates me.

He works very hard
finishing our new garage
and doesn't complain

that he's on the roof
and its just seven degrees
with no sun shining.

Some marriages fail
when faced with adversity
I think ours will not.

Our life doesn't suck.
Today, I'm glad we married
four short years ago.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

News: small babies don't weigh a lot

This earth shattering news brought to you courtesy of Hannah's metabolic clinic visit this week. And the other big shocker: they want her to eat more protein and well, more food generally. Because they want her to weigh more. Wow! The dietitian will contact me with information about "power packing" Hannah's food to give her more calories without more mass. She actually told me when her daughter was too small she fed her avocado sandwiches on bread laced with oil. I'll sign up for that one anyway, with a side of cheese.

Now that I've got that out of the way . . . once again I went to a doctor's appointment that lasted nearly four hours, and felt wholly inadequate for all but the time spent in the waiting area where I stood Hannah up to play with toys and helped some non English speaking folks find the toys for their child. I was adequate then.

I am trying to feel grateful that Hannah's doctor would call as soon as the labs came back to tell me how her carnitine levels were, and discuss dietary issues from the diet analysis, but instead I just feel grumpy. I wonder if he calls because he is worried about me being a lawyer and that I blame the other hospital for letting Hannah go so hypoglycemic to begin with so now he is worried about dealing with me. Anyway, it is never good when the doctor calls right back. He did rightly observe, though, that Hannah is very beautiful.

I am working on gratefulness, I am.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Haiku Friday: Saturday version

There are better ways
than professional training
to spend a Friday

So I ate candy
and knitted with much fervor
and some snide remarks

Forgot to haiku
or finish the old projects.
Babe needs a poncho.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Did you miss me?

My sister did. I remember last year when I had started reading blogs regularly and I read some through November and I LOVED NaBloPoMo when it wasn't my job to post every day. I started this post on Wednesday and still have not hit publish. So be it.

Claire has been exceptionally, heart wrenchingly funny. She was naked and getting herself dressed when she said, as if she were quite annoyed, "Godsakes, it's cold in here." I decided not to correct her and tell her no dear, you say "For God's sake" because, well, correcting her use of profanity or expletives just doesn't seem quite right. The next morning Jason was trying to get her to say it again, asking her if she was cold (she said yes and put her coat on) and to describe how cold she was (very). After demonstrating her ability not to fall for her Daddy's ploys, that evening as I was driving the girls home from day care she leaned towards Hannah and said in a stage whisper "TAKE THE BAIT!" After I recovered I asked her why she told Hannah that, and she said "Mom, I was watching Madagascar today," as if that explained everything. Next day she crawled into bed with us in the morning, and said "Mom, where do ladies get husbands?" so I told her how I met her father. "Where will I find a husband?" I gave her some ideas, like college, in about twenty years, but she is thinking she'd like to get married and have babies in the next two years.

Hannah is an eating, pooping machine, apparently in a growth spurt. I live in fear of her metabolic clinic appointments, where I am terrified someone will tell me I am not up to snuff and that I can't keep Hannah. will I ever let go of this fear? They always tell me she could be bigger (I'll discuss that with her) and that her diet has too much fat (hello, breast milk) and then they poke her to get some blood and I cry all over her head. Good times, good times. So Monday will kinda suck that way and then I can return to pre-Christmas madness and power knitting.