Saturday, December 25, 2010

Duuunnn (insert Irish accent)

I'm not hearing any noises coming from the various rooms in my house where children are supposedly sleeping. For all intensive purposes, that signals the end of 14 hours of Christmasing. And no bah humbugs here, we all had a great day, but wow, it's nice to collapse.

This was the first year I had the kids - last year they went to their Grandma and Grandpa's in California with Matt. And it's interesting - somewhere a day or two ago, something snapped in me. All of a sudden, that perfectionist in me that I've been trying hard to corrupt over the past year rose up with great gusto. All of a sudden, I found myself standing in line for 10 minutes at Ulmer's to get the perfect stocking stuffer tube of lip gloss for Théa that I had forgotten in the first round. And before I knew what was happening, the house had to be spotless, and relatively organized, and the pile of laundry had to be put away, and and and... madness.

It was also admittedly an interesting experiment to try a joint Christmas with Matt. It seemed to work for the kids for the most part, especially Liam, but it did make for an interesting day. We had stockings and gifts for each other with Chris in the early morning (early, really early, what a cliché), then Matt came by with a literal truckload of presents for the kids - whoa. As usual, they made out like bandits. Liam's favorite gift was the Millennium Falcon Star Wars ship that is literally the same size as the small trampoline the kids got from our friend Mike. Théa's favorite gift was a baby and a bottle and binkie. Good grief. But they got everything kids could ever want. Liam got an original Red Rider BB Gun from Chris, and went out for his first lessons this evening, just as my peace-loving parents and I were Skyping, which I'm sure left an impression. (On a side note, just in case they read this, though Chris does own more guns than anyone I've ever met, he speaks French and he did vote for Obama.) Théa got sparkly stuff and puzzles, and a barn with animals in it. They also got a Wii. I don't know how I feel about all the screen time, but Liam for one was thrilled.

What I found about this Christmas was that while lots of the details had changed, the main themes remained the same. The holiday bread didn't rise until midnight, just like usual. There wasn't nearly enough sleep, way too much stuff, and even more candy. But what's not to love about wading through a house covered from one end to the other with wrapping paper and the voices of joyful children.

We finished up the night with a dinner of home-grown roast chicken with all the trimmings, and Chris joined us for the evening. The kids were fruitcakes by then, but kept it together enough to clean up a bit before bedtime stories. Now it's quiet. It's so cold outside - single digits of brrr. The wood stove is going gangbusters and it's still more comfy with a blanket on. And I am completely and totally at peace with it all. I hope it lasts for a little bit.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It has been my general experience that the things you think will be a good idea for activities to do with kids... aren't. Take the annual getting of the tree, for example. Tears. Every time there are tears. Who cries when they get a tree?? That is not how it looks in the pictures, nor the movies. People are happy. Smiling. It's all good. Not my clan. Someone has cold fingers. This year, there was also a scuffle over who was going to hold the saw. Sadness.

But last night was the exception to that rule. Last night was winter solstice - the longest night of the year - and the full moon - and, to top it all off, there was a lunar eclipse. I tried not to hype it many things could get in the way. But as it turned out, it was a perfectly clear night and the moon was high in the sky. We went over to Chris' house around 7 and ate some dinner. The kids played without incident for a couple hours, then outside we all tromped and lit a big bonfire (not without a lot of artificial substances and a few rule-breaking incidents, mind you) and gazed upward. I didn't know how long the kids would last, given the late hour and the single-digit temperatures. But as it turned out, they did just fine. The eclipse started, the kids noticed, even wowed at it, and chased sparks like puppies chasing butterflies. Snowball fights erupted. There was much throwing of sticks into the fire. Neighbors stopped by with binoculars. The eclipse got more intense, covering half, then almost all of the moon. The moon turned rosy red. The stars came out. It was beautiful. There were periodic shouts of "look at it NOW". At the very end, Thea pooped out and went inside, but that was maybe 11 p.m. so all in all we all managed very well. And I think, maybe, just maybe, it will be one of those memorable moments in Liam's life. I still remember a solar eclipse from when I was maybe six or seven. It's an amazing thing. But nothing like this. This was beyond that. It was a night to remember.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday humm

Liam's Christmas --- err --- holiday concert was tonight. As per usual, he takes his performances very seriously, wearing a stoic expression I've seen before in some photos from the early ’80s. When the music started, he performed his heart out. Then came the part when the class had to wait a bit before relaunching into the next verse of the song. One kid started to launch in too early. Liam, like a traffic cop, raised his hand and stopped him. Then, a second or two later, another spot came up. Again, Liam stopped the erroneous singers. My friend Mo above me said that when they were rehearsing this had happened and Liam had hollered out, "STOP." Thank goodness he tamed it down this time. Sheesh. But the performance was, as always, sweet and fun. Théa and Matt sat on the sidelines because Théa couldn't sit still for the whole thing. Well, to be honest, Théa couldn't even make it through the introduction. That girl has a lot of energy. Yikes.

It's been a busy month for the kids. Winter has come on strong, and both Liam and Théa have tried their hand at skating. Liam, after not too long, was zipping around the rink. Théa needed a bit more help, but insisted she did not. They have also been doing lots of swimming, with they both love, though Liam tried and opted out of a great swim club for reasons including locker room chaos and perhaps chilly water? A bit befuddling as a parent to unravel the inner workings of that kid's head, but I'm optimistic he will get lots of water time, now that he has even more family living on Maui.

School has also been interesting these days for Liam. The other day, his teacher pulled me aside because of an incident the previous day. Apparently, he had asked to see the principal. When asked why, he had said something benign, like he hadn't had a chance to see him recently. But after the visit, his teacher pressed him for more information. "I don't want to tell you because I don't want to hurt your feelings," he said. His teacher said perhaps he should tell her anyway. And Liam did. Apparently he had gone to talk to his principal because he wasn't happy with the amount of yelling in the classroom these days. Wait. What?? Here is a child who will take care of his own problems. He never even mentioned it to me - he just went and did it. Matt and I were flabbergasted, if a bit concerned about the implications and the issue. But ultimately, I think it's safe to say we were proud as can be. Independence is huge.

We're a bit late getting in the holiday spirit, but this weekend, I plan to launch in with both feet - Christmas Tree, holiday festivities, etc. I'm looking forward to a chunk of time with my family, launching a few new traditions, reworking some others. The world is looking pretty peaceful these days, and for that I am very, very thankful.