Category Archives: holidays

The Gift of Magic

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The Gift of Magic

Well the elf has arrived at our house.  He’s not THE Elf on the Shelf – he’s Chritopher Pop-in-Kins, which is just a different, less snitchy version.  We all know I thought I’d never do the elf because I’m kind of lazy about Christmas things like that.  But I actually think I love this little guy!  I know my boys are only 5 and 2, but N in particular is so smart, so practical.  When he asked me to help him tell K who Santa is last week, I actually felt silly trying to get them to buy that he is magical and has flying reindeer and can go all over the world in one night.  I keep waiting for him to call b.s. on me, but he doesn’t.  And now with this 12″ pose-able elf – it requires such a complete suspension of reality to believe that he is anything more than plastic and wire.

That is the truly fantastic, amazing thing about children.  They believe with everything in their little bodies.  Magic is so very magical and mysterious and wonderful, and they behold it with the light in their eyes shining so brightly, so free of skepticism.  No one has told them yet that there are impossibilities.   I sure as hell am not going to be that person.

You run into those adults who for some reason don’t like to let kids be little.  They feel like it’s their duty to tell little ones how it really is – how cruel and un-magical life has been to them and surely will be to every child they cross.  And there are older children equally eager to squash the glow of little minds.  I feel sorry for them, because I  know it comes down from someone having taken away their glow too early as well, but I’d also like to protect my boys from these walking rain clouds.

I don’t want to know at what age that light of belief fades against the force of disillusionment.  Right now, all I want is to see them run down the stairs to see where little Christopher the elf has posed himself each morning, and I want to give them liberty to believe all the wildly implausible stuff that Christmas gives to little children.  They won’t get to keep that fleeting gift for long, and once it is gone, it won’t return again until they have children of their own to share it with them.  So I thank N and K for that – for giving me back the gift of that childhood Christmas magic in spite of life’s efforts to demystify everything that is bright.

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Grandma and the Christmas Skeleton

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Grandma and the Christmas Skeleton

It’s Thursday afternoon, and I’m helping my mom package some dolls she’s sold on eBay while the boys try to coax their aunt’s pet snake out of the woodchips carpeting the bottom of his terrarium.  I see a large skeleton still hanging on my parents’ kitchen curtain rod (I come by my taking-holiday-decorations-down procrastination honestly), and I tell the kids to go check it out because they have a weird love affair with skeletons.

The next thing I know, my mom is excitedly producing not just one, but two skeletons with clacking jaws and wiggling bony limbs.  My mom starts teaching her grandsons how to dance the skeletons so their jaws go clackity-clack and their feet tapdance on the wooden floor, and N chimes in with “the skellies on the bus go jingle jangle jingle…”.  The boys are elated at the fun interaction with their grandma, and soon I am volunteering at my mom’s suggestion to knit Christmas hats and scarves for the skeletons (because *that* would make them appropriately-themed holiday decor).

My mom is not the typical grandma, if there even is such a thing anymore.  With three adopted, teenaged daughters at home and a full-time career supplemented by a zillion hobbies, she isn’t home babysitting my boys or taking them to the park.  Although we live only a mile from them, we definitely don’t see one another enough in a way just dedicated to hanging out or enjoying the grandma/grandson relationship.  There’s no one to blame and no use doing so – it’s just the way our lives have evolved, and despite the atypical life we all have, my boys are incredibly close to Grandma and Papa.

Which makes interactions like singing and dancing with creepy  jolly skeletons  in a living room full of packing supplies all the more special.  Seeing my mom be with my boys like that reminds me why we will always live close to her and how much she has to offer my kids.  Not every child needs a grandma who knits them sweaters and walks them to the park – some would rather sing a goofy song with bony toes tapping out the rhythm of their grandma’s laughter.  And I would rather have a mom who appreciates the joy little boys get from these authentic interactions, even if it means I’m left sitting on the couch knitting hats and scarves for her pair of Christmas skeletons.

A Year of Vulnerabilities

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In the little over a year that I’ve been keeping this blog – sometimes actively; sometimes poorly – so many, many things have changed in my life.  My children have grown from infant and preschooler to toddler and big kid.  And I have struggled with growing up with them.  The constant pull and weight of wanting them to grow while wanting them always to be little – holding on to the fleeting stages with everything I have while knowing that in the next moment a new stage will begin with the same amazing grace of the last.

And in this last year, I’ve really found my niche in writing as a mother.  I started like the fish love the sea as a blog about writing, baking, mothering, and crafting.  I’m afraid those of you interested in baking, writing, and crafting have been terribly disappointed because, just as the rest of my life has gone, the blog has followed my mothering almost exclusively.  Which is okay with me.  I am fulfilled at most times in my writing by my blogging here, over at get born magazine, and for the Greeley Tribune’s Greeley Moms section.  I’m certainly baking and crafting and even writing as much as I can; I have just focused my energy here on processing the mothering side of things.

As the year ends and 2013 begins despite the doomsday-ers’ best predictions, I’ve done my requisite reflecting on the last twelve months.  This time last year, I was finally coming up for air following the postpartum depression that changed the way I think about motherhood.   I was groping for ways to really understand Baby K’s little personality, and still navigating the strange new dynamics of my two-child household.   Since then, I have done a lot of healing and forgiving – mostly of myself for the little things each day as I acknowledge that I truly am doing the best I can as N’s and K’s mother.

This new year will find me still seeking the right – or right-for-right-now – path for my family, and I suppose that will be my journey with each new year that comes.   Helping N grow his beautiful, exuberant interest in life; helping Baby K succeed in telling us about the quiet little soul behind the mouth that works so hard to speak.  Loving every moment with the perspective that it is all so vulnerable, so fleeting, and so perfect for the people that we are and the family we are meant to be.  Because the last two weeks – in particular the shooting in Connecticut – has deeply reminded me of our human vulnerabilities, and hopefully given me a lasting renewal of my dedication to appreciate the now.

So with that, I wish you all a wonderful new year filled with love and peace and light.  And I THANK YOU for reading, following, sharing like the fish love the sea.  Cheers to 2013, and Cheers to You!

Sugar Highs and Lows

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Somewhere today between the 37th subsequent pretend game of “Fire Rescue” and nearly being stabbed in the eye as N spun around the kitchen wielding a pumpkin-carving knife and a sugar-induced adrenaline rush, I lost it.  It might have been when N jumped from the couch onto my back as I was sneaking in a quick song with Baby K, or maybe when Joe announced he wasn’t feeling good and was going to bed with very inconvenient timing, leaving me to cook for two hungry, tired kids, feed said hungry, tired kids, and then force everyone to enjoy some pumpkin carving.

Whatever it was that did me in, I was done.  Cooked.  Completely over all of it.  Which sucked, because I love carving pumpkins.  Love it.   I don’t go all fancy with printed-out patterns or exciting tools that help me etch Starry Night into a giant gourd.  No, I just stick with faces and maybe a bat or two. But, damn do I like slopping those disgusting seeds onto the floor and sawing out a creation some punk is just going to smash in the street the next night.   It’s worth it for the minute we light the candles inside the jack-o-lanterns and turn out the porch light to watch them glow while we sing “Jack-o-lantern, Jack-o-lantern” to them.

Usually, I love it.  Not tonight.  This is how tonight’s pumpkin carving went:

We (N and I, since Joe was in bed and I had secured Baby K in a bouncy chair to keep him from choking on pumpkin guts) lay out the newspaper and put the pumpkins on the floor.

N jumps onto his footstool to reach the counter: “Mama, I’m going to get some candy.”  Me: “No, you’re not.  You’ve had two cupcakes and more candy than you could possibly need today.”  N begins to pout.

Me, with the great redirect: “Which pumpkin should we start with?”  N: ‘The baby one.  But you need to give him a scary face.”  Fitting, considering N’s current feelings about his too-cute brother.

N, in his teasing voice, back on the effing stool: “I’m going to get some caaandy…”  Me: “If you get one more piece of candy off the counter, you’re going to bed.  Get back over to your pumpkin and scoop its guts out.”  And have fun while you do it.

This negotiation goes on annoyingly for five minutes, finally escalating to threats of cancelling Halloween.

Me (as you will see, I’ve lost it at this point): “if you get on that stool one more time to try to reach that candy, we’re not trick-or-treating tomorrow and I’ll give your costume away.”

Right, like that is going to happen.  For one, I spent four hours ironing purple stripes onto a sweatsuit for his cat costume and my back still hurts from leaning over the ironing board.  Plus, I’m not actually a terrible witch, I just play one most evenings.

So, after the near-miss with the pumpkin knife, a few tears and some screaming (both from me), and an eventual realization that I was going to be carving pumpkins all alone for the first time in my life, I gave up.  We took two hastily-finished jack-o-lanterns outside and I mustered the patience to sing to them in the dark because, well, they need it to fully function as jack-o-lanterns, I’m fairly sure.

Then, in what is more of a routine than I’d like to admit, I tuck N into bed along with my guilt over losing control of our house once again, apologize for yelling and tell him he’s a good boy.  To which he responds, “I know I am, Mama.  I just act naughty sometimes, but I still love you.”  And as I’m walking from the room empty of my earlier frustration, he shouts, “I’m gonna get some candy after I sleep all night.  For breakfast.  Lots of it.”   Sigh.  Next year I’m telling him he’s allergic to sugar.