Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Just this blogger's mouse.

Stop on by, Big Guy. Cookies and reindeer treats await...

Merry Christmas to All
And to All A Good Night!

Snowmageddon 2008

I never thought I would ever write these words...I'm so glad it's finally raining!

The cozy blankets of snow that have been falling for the past 10 days have been a blessing of sorts. We're healthier than any December since bringing the little petri dishes into our lives, since we've been unable to interact with the outside world and therefore unable to collect its germs. Long, hibernating nights during this Solstice week have made for happy little morning bears (and well-rested Mama and Papa bears, too).

The week before Christmas this year has found us gift-making instead of buying, since driving to shops is on the list of dangerous activities that might also include eating radioactive waste and playing hide and seek with tiger sharks. We've enjoyed extraordinary meals prepared from the contents of our freezer/pantry and have managed to get equal amounts of energy-sapping snow shoveling and cozy couch cuddling in each day. Mr. Wonderful's daily trek to the gas station to see if the paper delivery truck made it (Yay! Boo! Yay!) have kept us connected to the outside world and its necessary provisions.

I've really enjoyed this week of having our family together to focus on what matters most to us this season...each other.

Well, that and dry socks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just a little off the top, please

It was time. The curls were fraying out and my little man was beginning to impersonate a small troll spinning upon the top of a pencil. The little devil wings above his ears were sprouting into horns and we made the family decision for a FIRST HAIRCUT.

Mr. Wonderful and Max have built a beautiful relationship around their trips to the barber together; replete with lollipops, trucks and a stop at the Daddy Store (aka hardware store). Although it was very hard for me to undo the apron strings and let Daddy take him for his first haircut, I decided that this was a gift that needed to be shared with Sam, too.

I only cry about the lost curls three or four times a day and keep wondering who this big boy is who showed up at our house and keeps calling me "Mommy." He's cute, though, and he seems to really like it here, so we're going to keep him. And the little bag of curls that I've taped to the refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Golden Days of Yore

I've been searching in my ornament boxes for something to put on our tree that doesn't have wheels, treads, propellers, a sword, or a corn cob pipe. Even my favorite glass icicles, dangling all shimmery and oh-so-breakably, add a rather phallic tone to the Man Tree in our living room. The Man Tree is complete with a star on the top of it that Max made in preschool out of an empty roll of toilet paper covered in aluminum foil. If an empty roll of toilet paper doesn't scream male to me, then I don't know what does.

While plucking through these boxes of Christmases-past in search of something that represents the feminine in our family, I came across a picture.

A family photo taken ten Christmases ago, when my brother and I both had hands without gold bands and not even a glimmer of the little monkey boys who would one day change the holiday season forever for us. We look well-rested, unfrazzled, and well, calm.

It was the Christmas in which Mr. Wonderful asked me to do him the honor of becoming his bride, and my grandparents had come out to visit. Grandma has on a festive vest and I'm sure she told Grandpa to wear The Red Shirt. Or maybe she didn't say a word, but after fifty Christmases together, he knew.

We went to visit my mom's cousin and his family and shared our last Christmas with my Great Aunt Valerie, who had a tradition of sewing matching night gowns and night shirts for me and my brother every year. We joked about sleepwear while drinking martinis and eating cannelloni by candlelight. My little cousin, who now towers over me and knows all the songs being played in the Brass Plum section of Nordstrom, was five and she BELIEVED. Her mom believed, too. We all believed that year.

The next year, for the first time in my life, I didn't come home for Christmas. Mr. Wonderful and I shared our first Christmas tree and started our own family traditions that continue now and will continue for our boys in the Christmases to come. Hopefully some of these traditions and memories will even remain well after I'm no longer in the picture.

The holidays, while certainly merry and bright, also bring out the ghosts of Christmas Past, sometimes at the most unexpected moments. The ache can be overwhelming, especially at a time of year when we're supposed to be happy and bombarded with imagery of family and sentiment and mournful versions of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas".

Today I send out hugs to all who are missing dear ones. Whether that footprint is fresh or old, it still leaves a mark. Polaroids don't replace the hugs and laughter shared over a glass of eggnog. But I'll offer a toast to those no longer decorating the tree, and to those who still make it merry and bright while feeling the pull of the past.


It's not just my tree that needs more angels.

All The Way Home

It was a Winter Wonderland at our house with about six hours of snowfall today. The view was beautiful and bright and beckoning to our little boy who just cannot resist Mother Nature and Her gifts; wintry and otherwise.

Shortly after waking, Max was out the door in the falling snow without shoes, hat, coat or mittens. And back in. And out. And in. And out. Cheering with glee and getsitement and proclamation and anticipation while I was making eggs for a sobbing, starving and very impatient Sam.

Out and in. Out and in. The golden jingle bells hanging on our front door announced his indecision each time, until the door slammed and there was a crash and a "MOHHHHM!"


On the floor next to the door lay a crippled wooden horse that used to hang in my grandparents' farmhouse welcoming their guests. With two freshly broken legs. It's a sentimental item, and, along with the countless other holiday items that are missing feet, arms, wings, hats, etc. due to little hands dropping or squeezing them, kind of broke my patience. I burst into tears and mumbled about how everything gets broken around here and I can't have special things out and Wahahhwaaaahwaaah. Totally ridiculous, but thoroughly shocking and unexpected - for both them and me. The boys became hushed and apologetic, exchanging worried glances and wondering, hopefully, if I was just laughing.

Max even suggested that I might need to go to my room until I could stop crying.

Dude. If only I could.

My frustration was brewing faster than my eagerly anticipated morning coffee until I looked out the window. And what to my wondering eyes did appear?

A reminder...

That in the midst of the chaos and the cold, in the bleak and long gray days when I am stuck in the house with the ricochet of two preschool-aged boys, there is beauty. And stillness. And a tiny imprint of what will one day be much bigger and won't return back to my door in such a rush.

Wooden horses? Those can be replaced. These little piggies?


Monday, December 15, 2008

The One Where The Minnesotans Totally Laugh At Us

We got a little dusting of serenity this weekend in the form of the season's first snowfall. People who live in parts where this is a frequent occurrence might find that we are making a big deal out of something fairly mundane, but for the kids around here, the cold white stuff is pretty getsiting.

Max wanted to go out and touch it immediately. As soon as he was done with breakfast he was pulling his boots on and running out the door and licking the lawn and asking if he could half-pipe down the driveway.

This dusting of snow completely shut down our world for no obvious reason and made people drive like frozen lobotomized bumper car operators. The snow also resulted in the cancellation of pre-school. On Max's sharing day.

And it was Garbage Day.

The universe is clearly out to get me.

After dragging the kids, the garbage and the recycling down to the road, we got the sled out and had a little lesson in friction and speed that was highly disappointing and rather like launching a bottle rocket without any fuel.

Leave it to Max to find his own propulsion.

Winter X-Games, anyone?

This is Max attempting to sled backwards down a hill into a semi-frozen creek. And me standing up the hill taking a picture. The DNA is so not working in his favor.

Fortunately, he's got his brother to slow him down.

His dear, sweet, obliging brother who had to wear a size 12 month snowsuit. Sam is, oh, say, 31 months old now? A very large 31 month old, I might add. A very large 31 month old who had to squeeze into that thing two winters ago and yet again today. I'm quite certain he will never forgive the snow (or his mother) for such a painful experience. He also may never be able to father a child or sing baritone after I hung him by his underarms and shoved his long limbs into the powdery blue suit of doom that zipped him right out of potential puberty.

But at least his butt was dry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Math: or how to divide the joy

Karma, you certainly have a sense of humor.

About ten years ago I sent my future nephews (ages 4 and 6 ish at the time) an advent calendar filled tiny pieces of chocolate, one for each day in December until Christmas. One chocolate advent calendar: two boys. I'm pretty sure that someone could develop a mathematical equation termed the ratio from hell and it would involve those two numbers. But that's about the extent of my mathematical genius (thank you liberal arts degree), so I will leave that bit of configuring to the geniuses at MIT or wherever those smart types hang out these days. Clearly, it's not at my house.


Because counting down the unbearably long days until Christmas comes so easily to small children, and sharing a miniscule tidbit of a petroleum-based sugar product is always so rewarding. It was one of those good intention gifts that really ingratiated me into my future family and warmed them to my generous spirit.


This year I spotted a darling advent calendar that I was sure that I had checked to make sure that was NOT of the chocolate variety, because who needs candy to further flame the countdown? Apparently not only am I not good at math, I think I may have also failed vocabulary. Of course it's filled with chocolate.

Which I didn't discover until making a really big deal about letting the boys each open their advent calendars (my brother got us one as well - yippee, one for each! I thought). The only thing worse than having to divide a piece of microscopic candy is to have to explain to the child who opened said piece of candy that he needs to share it. Yeah, that ratio just got a whole lot harder to work out.

So from now until the day the fat man wiggles down our flameless chimney, I will have the evening ritual of dividing the mini-est of bells, snowmen, and stars into two equal pieces (again with the math, ugh).

2:1 - Really spreading the spirit of season.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Home Sweet Home

An hour after bedtime:

Max 's Big Boy Bed is covered in tractor blankets, books, dinosaurs, orca and humpback whales, sharks, books, monkeys and other prized collectibles. Looking like an oversized baby doll, Max is passed out dreamily among the menagerie.

Sam's little toddler-sized bed across the room is Empty.

A quick survey of the room draws my eye to the wall next to the bed stand. Two large pillows are propped up against the wall, behind them Sam's wild and crazy curls calm my panicked heart.

"Shhhhhh" he hushes, little curls peaking above the denim pillows, "Max is seeping, me hiding."

I scoop him into bed, smiling into his tired eyes. Queen cars are tucked into awaiting fingers, blankets nuzzled around, and kisses placed on his chubby cheeks.

There's nothing better than your own bed, little one.

Night Night.