Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry and Bright

Unlike last year at this time, I don't have to go out to the mall for last-minute Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. Go me!

For everyone who celebrates the holiday, have a merry, happy, peaceful, Christmas. I'll most likely resurface sometime around the new year. See you all then.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sometimes the Holidays Just Get Overwhelming

Other times, all it takes is an up close and personal encounter with the man in the red suit.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Through a Door, Foolishly

At last we bid adieu to our old front door. It was warped, it required a hip thrust to shut and a kick to open, it let in a steady stream of cold air even when closed. And it was purple. I love purple, but a purple door that matched NOTHING else on the exterior of the house just looked dumb.

So now we have a lovely new door that matches our blue shutters.

After dinner last night I wanted to see how the door looked from the outside -- the man who installed it had just left, and I was eager to view the finished product. Of course, Sean and Allie had to join me.

You know where this is going, right?

Right. I locked us out of the house.

Nobody was wearing a coat. Allie had on a pair of plastic princess shoes, and Sean just had socks on.

After a quick trip to the back of the house to see if the back door was open (it wasn't), I calmed the kids down ("We're TRAPPED!" Sean kept saying) and tried to figure out where we could go. Fortunately, my friend across the street had just gotten home from work, and as she was hustling her kids in the door, we prevailed upon her to take us in.

The kids spent a marvelous hour playing with their friends while we waited for Jeff to get home and let us back in. In that respect, our adventure turned out to be a lot more fun for them than merely staying in our house would have been.

After Jeff came home and opened a door (not the new door, mind you, the keys for which were still inside the house -- what a pickle we would have been in if we had had all our doors replaced!), we examined the lock to the new door.

Here's where it gets really embarrassing. The door wasn't locked at all; the handle just required quite a bit of force for the first few uses. Ahem.

In my defense, I really had pressed hard on the handle in my attempt to get back in the house. Just not, apparently, hard enough.

When the man who installed the door came back this morning to finish hanging the wood trim, Sean couldn't wait to tell him about the debacle last night. Thanks, kid. As if I weren't feeling sheepish enough!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Isn't It Ironic, Doncha Think?

I am a glutton for a guilt trip, so it was with interest that I read an article in the newspaper on ways to make your holiday greener. Since the most effective approach -- something along the lines of not purchasing any presents or decorations at all -- would have made for a short article, the writer focused on the usual exhortations: buy a living tree, then plant it; wrap your presents in fabric; and don't for one second think that you can buy your way out of environmental Armageddon with green products, at Christmas or any other time of year.*

All well and good. However, one might quibble with the juxtaposition of this article and another on the same page: the one that discussed the myriad ways in which today's bigger houses demand taller trees, larger ornaments, more lights, and more decorations.

Guess which article was twice the length of the other?

*Note to self: So much for those LED Christmas lights I bought...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sean Lowers the Boom

"Allie! I am not playing with you again for the rest of my LIFE!"

Let's assume that in the future the rest of his life will last more than 3 minutes.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oh the Singing Inside Is Frightful...

A friend from where I used to work sent me an e-mail yesterday. "Don't want you to feel left out!" she wrote. I clicked on the attached message to see that the holiday carollers were once again going to be strolling the office building on Friday, spreading cheer. This happens every year on the morning of the annual holiday party.

I replied to her, "Why, thank you! Picture me cowering under my desk..."

I have no idea why the carollers made me cringe every year, but I would take extreme measures to avoid them. Even, I admit, ducking out of sight and holding my ears. They weren't inordinately untalented; some of the singers did in fact have good voices. It just always struck me as such an invasive display, such a breach of the professional-personal wall. I would actually feel embarrassed on behalf of the singers.

Then there was the inappropriateness of foisting Christmas tunes on employees who do not celebrate the holiday. The organization I worked for is extremely sensitive to issues like that (note the Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Peace banners hung across the lobby), but the carolling tradition has lasted so many years that I can only surmise that no one has complained about it.

Except in private, of course. Or on a completely not-private blog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Today's walk to school left me with a throbbing headache. It wasn't an atypical walk, but nonetheless today I found myself poorly equipped to handle Allie's stalling tactics.

It started before we left the house. I had left Allie and Sean to get their shoes and coats on. When I return to the room, Sean is ready, and Allie is standing there, giggling, no coat on, wearing not shoes but an old pair of slippers.

She has a gift for pulling stunts like this when we are running late.

Several minutes later, after having had to put her shoes on myself ("I CAN'T! It's too HARD!" says the girl who is perfectly capable of putting her own shoes on), we are finally on our way.

"We need to walk quickly today," I tell them. Sean shoots off ahead of us down the street. "Okay, maybe not that quickly."

I look behind me to see Allie standing perfectly still on the sidewalk. "Allie, what's wrong?" I ask, more charitably than I actually feel.

"I want you to walk BEHIND me! Not in FRONT of me!"

"Not today, sweetie. We need to walk together."

Cue the waterworks. And the headache.

In an attempt to circumvent a power struggle, I scoop her up so that we can catch up with Sean. She removes her hat and pitches it on the ground. I'd have to characterize her expression as triumphant. The waterworks diminish, the headache swells. Sean continues on his way, blithely unaware of the shenanigans behind him.

Somehow we make it to school without my head exploding, and then back again. The walk home is a little better, with just a few detours and demands and shoes that mysteriously fall off little feet.

If anyone else had caused me such grief, I'd be stewing for at least an hour afterward. But this is my child. And with her, you know what can make all that stress seem a distant memory? An hour snuggling in the rocking chair and reading books. I almost forgot about the difficult morning.

Till we are on our way to pick Sean up. And I hear, "No, I want you to walk BEHIND me!"

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pick Your Hue

Thanks so much for all your kind comments on the previous post! It means a lot to me to have such a supportive community in times like this.

And now, to give you whiplash, we turn from the sober to the completely frivolous.

This year marks the first holiday season in which I am decorating my house with exterior lights. We'd always just slapped up a few wreaths and called it a minimally decorated day. However, after having to listen to a pipsqueak-sized chorus of dismay over the lack of Christmas illumination for a few years, I finally acquiesced. We would hang lights on two, and no more than two, bushes out front this year.

I even yielded to the kids' insistence on colored lights. I myself am partial to white lights, but I don't expect children to appreciate their understated elegance. As long as we continue to trim our Christmas tree with white lights, I am perfectly okay with colored lights outside.

We've decorated one bush so far. And by "decorated," I mean "sparsely trimmed only halfway down." Yeah, as it turns out I grossly underestimated the amount of lighting needed. While we were picking out more lights at the store today, Sean gazed longingly at the artificial, pre-lit display trees. "You know, Mommy," he said, "our tree would look so much better with colored lights."

I would say there is not a snowball's chance in hell of that happening, but I know better now. Check back in a few years and I bet our tree will have not just colored lights but colored lights that blink, shimmer, and do the hokey pokey.

Your turn: colored lights or white lights?

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past

The kids are already heady with excitement over Christmas, and I'm trying my best to fill the season with magic for them. I always drag my feet a bit at this stage of the game. This year, though, it's even harder.

The good news that my mother-in-law received was, unfortunately, not the complete news. She found out last week that there was a satellite tumor next to the primary tumor in her arm. Which means that the cancer has in fact spread.

She's embarking on a year-long treatment course today. I'm trying to focus on the fact that the lymph nodes looked good, and that perhaps the satellite tumor spread locally rather than systemically. Still, it's a pretty scary scenario, with survival numbers that are discouraging to say the least.

This seems all too familiar to me. My father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer right before Christmas. He died six weeks later. Several years had to pass before I could view Christmas as a happy holiday again. The current circumstances are not analogous to my dad's, I realize, but the timing parallel is too eerie to ignore.

I'm sorry I don't have a pithy or thoughtful concluding paragraph here. I'll be back later this week, perhaps with a more uplifting post.