Friday, December 24, 2010

A thrill of hope.

And we're off! This year's Christmas festivities officially begin this afternoon, with cookie-baking in preparation for Santa's arrival tonight, then on to church for Christmas Eve service. Christmas morning is the climax for the kids, and there will be a mad dash for the Christmas tree and shrieks of joy when their loot is discovered. Driving to grandparents' houses, family dinners with seven hundred relatives from all corners of the country, and there will surely be two exhausted kids and two even more exhausted parents at the end of this weekend. But through all of it, we are keeping certain things in mind, things that put the reason for these days in perspective. Like, there were no late-night Walmart runs going on in Bethlehem. No stressing out over batteries and toys that require twelve hours of assembly surrounded the manger. We have Santa and presents and yes, probably a little bit of stressing out over the required rushing around to visit family. But we also have this: A thrill of hope, and the real reason for the season.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

And now she is five.

Ella's birthday was actually eleven days ago. I have had a five year old for eleven days now, and I am still getting acquainted with the idea. As bittersweet as it is to watch the baby of the family get older, knowing that this is my last time to watch a childhood unfold, it is perhaps more heart wrenching to sit by as my Big Girl gets older. She is the first, the one who made me a mom, the girl who made my parents into grandparents. For three years it was just me and her, all day, the two of us learning together how to do this thing we were doing every day. She is my first, and for that she and I will always have a special-ness that no one else on this planet can share.

Ella, at five (FIVE. I still have trouble saying it some days.) you are incredibly smart, and funny, and curious, and a million other things that I couldn't even begin to describe right now. Your intelligence astounds me sometimes. You throw around words like 'nocturnal' and 'interpretive dance', and you know what they mean. It really was just yesterday that you were a toddler, saying 'amaaaano' for 'tomato' and running around the house in a diaper. You are starting to read, and the perfectionist in you cannot stand it that you can't read really big words quite yet. I say to you, "Be patient, girl." You are at the jumping off point, thisclose to being ready to leave "little kid-hood" behind for good, ready to leap head first into big, important things: real, big kid school, making new friends, growing up into the person that you will be. I think you know this, can sense it, and while you are excited about what is to come you hold tightly to the little girl in you. Not quite old enough to be interested in all of the "tween" stuff like Hannah Montana and liking boys, but a little too old for toddler toys and games. Again I will say: Be patient, girl. It is coming. You have so much greatness in you, so many good, exciting things heading your way in the not-so-distant future. Some days I want to grab you tightly and say "slow down" to see if that makes it stop, this growing up thing you are doing.

At five, you are curious about everything around you, and this is evident in the million and one questions that you ask me every single day. I hope you never lose this curiosity, this need to learn things about everything in the world, to find answers for things that you wonder about. I love watching the world through your eyes these days...everything is a mystery to be solved or figured out, mundane things are miraculous through your five-year-old eyes. You are letting me go through childhood again, kid, and for that I thank you. I've learned that it really is pretty incredible that hawks can hunt for their food from way up in the air, and it is amazing how tulips know just when to pop up through the ground in the spring time.

I would say that I am proud to be your mother, but that word, "Proud", doesn't do it justice, really. I am honored to be the one you spend your days with, and I am already mourning the loss of these lazy days as we rapidly approach Kindergarten next fall. Because that means that many fewer hugs, that many fewer stories I read to you, that many fewer times that I am the one to hug you when you fall down, when you are out of the nest next year.

I'm not sure how this has turned into a letter to you, Ella, but here it is. My hope is that you keep being who you are, quirks and all, and that you always, always know this: I love you more than ice cream, and to the moon and back, my five-year-old.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

And now he is two.

Exactly two years ago right this very minute I was pacing the floor nervously, my hair wet from just having showered at 4am. "This is it," I told myself. "You will have two babies in a little while. TWO." I was scared beyond belief. Scared that I wasn't cut out for this motherhood thing after all, scared that I wouldn't be up to taking care of two human beings at the same time by myself, scared of a horrible recovery like I had with Ella. Hours later, this boy came screaming screaming screaming into the world:


"I did it!", I thought. "I have successfully birthed two living, breathing (HUGE) children and lived to tell about it." Little did I know the ride I was in for.

Charlie, you have shaken my soul to the core. That may sound cheesy but it is the only way I know to describe it and you. You shake everything to the core. You love big, looking me in my eyes and saying "I wuv ooo, Mama" while touching my chin, hugging my legs so tight that I can't move. You play big, zooming around the house in a blur, attempting things that Ella still wouldn't dare to try at her age. You scream big, wailing when I have to change a diaper or wipe your nose. While Ella is the person who made me a mother, you have made me a better mother. You have taught me patience, kindness, to let the little things go, and most of all, to love big, right now.


You have taught me countless other things that may seem insignificant to others, too. I now know the characters' names on Thomas The Train. I also know that it is a good idea to glue the air vents to the floor, and that crayons are usually okay to just go ahead and flush down the toilet, don't bother fishing them out with your hand. Most importantly I know that there truly, truly, truly is nothing else on this earth like a Mama and Her Boy.


It has been possibly the hardest two years of my life, getting you through the stages of being a newborn and an infant and that wobbly first year of toddlerhood. But we did it! Gone are the sleep issues and teething, here to stay (for now) are the funny words you say and the silly games you play.


So, happy birthday, my boy. I love you with every single fiber of my being, and can't wait to see what your next year brings us.

I figured I should include a picture of what you look like 99.9% of the time you are awake...peanut butter on your face, food hanging out of your mouth, a little drool on your chin. Perfect.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In which I whine incessantly about stupid things.

Thanksgiving is over, bitches. I was (and am) thankful for all that I have: healthy, happy kids, a husband who puts food on the table and is a wonderful father, a lovely roof over our heads, a good life. But, there are a few things pissing me off right now. As Peter Griffin would say, this is what "really grinds my gears" lately. Let's get started, shall we?

1. Sudden Service.


There is a chain of gas stations in Tennessee called Sudden Service. This bothers me. I am sure that the CEO or whomever runs this business chose the name because it implies that your service will be speedy, prompt, or otherwise convenient. It does not imply this to me. To me it means that there are probably gas station attendants hiding behind each gas pump, waiting to spring out at you with a 64 ounce Dr Pepper and some Cheetos. They will pounce on you before you have even put your car in park, your gas tank will be filled before you even open your door to get out. Scary, is what this is to me. I get what they were going for with the name: Two S words! Cleverness! But why not Simply Service, or Service With A Smile, or any one of a hundred other S words in the dictionary? They might as well have named it Shocking Service. I figured if you're going to be called Sudden Service, you should probably just go balls-to-the-wall with the theme you've chosen, so I came up with a new logo to get the folks at Sudden Service started. You're welcome, guys.


2. Ridiculous Barbies.

Ella is at the age where she is enchanted with all things Barbie. She can spend hours dressing them, making up elaborate stories and playing them out with her plastic dolls. So it was no surprise when she asked for more Barbies for Christmas this year. What was surprising? How utterly stupid Barbie has gotten. When I was a kid, Barbie came in four different designs: Blonde, Brunette, African American, and Skipper. They were all packaged wearing something simple like a sundress or a bathing suit, and you could then choose from about ten outfits to purchase separately. Not anymore. Here is a sampling of what I found when browsing an online toy retailer. Also? The morons at Barbie Inc. must know what they're doing because Ella wants all of these crappy dolls for Christmas. Of course she does.

Totally Stylin Tattoos Barbie


Barbie wants a tattoo, and YOU get to give it to her! Also included are tattoos for your child to put on themselves. Awesome. I am super excited about my five year old becoming an apprentice to the profession of "body art". Not included are the five tequila shots Barbie did before deciding to get a tramp stamp on her lower back.

Turning Tricks Barbie, aka Fashion Fever Fashionista Doll: Sassy.


There's not much to say about this one, other than stating the obvious: This is a whore doll. I am not thrilled about my five year old daughter playing with this pro-prostitution plaything, or thinking that "fashionista" is really just fancy-talk for "gets paid in fives and ones, and more likely than not has The Clap".

I've Given Up On My Hopes And Dreams Barbie


There is a whole line of Barbies called the "I Can Be" Barbies. Among these dolls there is a Barbie pet vet, a Barbie doctor, there is even a Barbie race car driver. In theory this is a great idea, it shows young girls that if you work hard you can become whatever you want to be. Then I scrolled down and saw this one. The I Can Be A Cheerleader Barbie. Barbie seems to have said "fuck it" to any aspirations to become a lawyer, a teacher, or hell, even a housewife. She's aiming high, folks. A cheerleader. I see nothing wrong with little girls and teenagers being cheerleaders. I was even one for a couple of years there. But all of the other dolls in this series are obviously adults, as evidenced by the aforementioned doctors and race car drivers. So by the same logic, this is an adult cheerleader. If Ella graduates from college and says, "Hey, Mom, I know I just got a degree in bioengineering and all, but I'm gonna just sack those plans and be a cheerleader", I will hang her up from my roof by her toenails until she changes her little mind.

3. The Christmas Season Morons.


Starting the week before Thanksgiving, I saw no fewer than four different stories on tv and the internet that spelled out ways to save money during the holiday shopping season. Mostly I clicked on these links wondering if they were going to give me some life-changing advice, or perhaps a coupon for $500. Nope. Their "advice"? Don't put Christmas presents on your credit cards. Don't finance Christmas gifts. Shop sales. Don't buy more gifts than you can afford. Now, maybe I'm just smarter than the average person, but to me this seems like common sense. We adhere strictly to the school of thought that if we can't pay cash for it, then we don't get it. But I know there are those out there that will max out credit cards and take out loans just to ensure that little Susan gets that $200 Dream Dollhouse. When I was a mortgage broker December was actually a really busy time of year for us. People called in by the hundreds to take out second mortgages on their house just to pay for an over-the-top Christmas. Sure, little Jimmy may be overjoyed when he sees that holy grail of gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. But will he really be so thrilled when he's eating hot dogs and beans for the twentieth night in a row, all because Mommy and Daddy have to pay off Christmas? I think not. Idiots.

4. THIS.


Dear makers of push-to-open boxes: Stop lying to me. They do not open when you push them. All that happens is that my thumbnail breaks off and my two year old learns a new curse word that day, and then gets to watch mommy throw the box of macaroni against the wall. Stop it. It would be more accurate if you put this on the box: "Try to open this box from the side, get increasingly annoyed and try opening the top, and finally resort to furiously ripping the entire box apart with nothing but your teeth and hatred."