Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Chaos

Observations from Christmas 2009:

Sometimes the squeakquel is even better than the original.

Bubbles even work in the snow.

Grandpas are the best story readers.

Second cousins can be as fun as first cousins.

Six boys are very rambunctious but very cute.

When it comes to slippers: the bigger the better.

There is no such thing as too many presents.

Cookies for Santa must be prepared with great care.

Train tables are amazing things.

Christmas can be exhausting.

Hope yours was wonderful!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just before dawn

T was raised Catholic, and I Presbyterian. Lately though we have been going to a Unitarian-Universalist church periodically. Today's message really resonated with me.

The UU denomination is very flexible and open. It does not have a specific creed but rather a set of guiding principles in which UUs believe, the first of which is the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Within any UU congregation you could have Jews, Christians, atheists and agnostics. Services can vary widely and often explore various religious traditions or philosophies.

Today the service centered on the Solstice. In December, that is the shortest day of the year, before the days start to get longer again. In many cultures, it is celebrated as a time of change. A time of hope and light in the coldest, darkest days.

The Christmas tradition ties into this with the gleaming star providing guidance in the dark night and the birth of a baby bringing hope to the world.

The minister described other traditions and cultures that describe this time of year as one of rebirth and renewal, hope and change. It works well with our calendar as we contemplate the closing of the year and our New Year's resolutions.

The message is reflected clearly in nature especially in Wisconsin, where the thoughts of green shoots and flower buds are far from mind. The grass is brown, where it can be seen beneath the slopes of snow. The trees are bleak and barren. The world is painted with colors of grey, brown, and blue. But buried beneath the frozen ground is the promise of new life. Hidden amidst the blinding white are shades of green, pink, red, orange, and yellow. In the most desolate time of year, the promise of Spring remains.

This has been a year of change for me, as I left behind a career I had always dreamed of with the idea of staying at home with my children. We moved across the country to the place I grew up. We found a new home, new friends, new favorite places. I struggled to find a sense of worth and identity in a foreign role.

Now as our year of transition draws to a close, I am ready for a rebirth. I recognize now that I would like to return to a fulfilling career, and that this would be best for myself and my children. A happy mother is a good mother! I have an interview next week, and a couple of promising applications submitted for other positions. But even if these don't work out, I am confident the right opportunity will come along, just as I know the green shoots will soon emerge from the cold, hard soil and the robins will begin their song once again.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Potty time!

I am very happy to say Q is nearly potty trained! You don't realize how important a development this is until you are standing next to your toddler perched on his mini potty seat, Thomas underwear encircling his ankles, and a smile on his face as he announces, "I went poo-poo!"

"Number 2" is like the holy grail of potty training. Much harder than simple peeing of course. When Q announced his achievement, I clapped and danced. I praised him and high-fived him. I called his dad and let Q leave a voicemail on Grandma's phone. It was a grand occasion. Nothing I could have imagined a few short years ago.

Q had been wearing underwear at his babysitter's house for sometime, and so I decided it was time to lay down the law at home where he was clearly pulling a power trip on his mama. We switched to strictly underwear during the day and muddled through. There were a few horrible messy days of poop-filled pants and multiple clothing changes, but today we were accident-free! Hallelujah!

It's still far from a done deal. I continually ask him if he needs to go potty and have to offer endless bribes to get him there. But I think we have definitely turned the corner.

That means one big thing: preschool. You have to be potty-trained to attend many of them, and now we are finally at that pivotal stage. Q could be headed to 4K next Fall, and I think he requires a little more socialization before that. Preschool is just what he needs.

I hope to get him in somewhere in January, so he can go for a few months at least and get used to the routine.

One more big thing for mama? Fewer diapers. That makes me very happy.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We are in the midst of a blizzard. T inched his way to work, but my classes were cancelled. It was a long slow drive home last night.

Today we are holed up. I stayed in my pajamas till after lunch. At that point I decided the boys had to play in the snow for at least a little while. Q's snow gear from last year still fits well, but R has outgrown his. He desperately needs new snow pants and some boots, but for now, I squeezed him into last year's 6-12 month snowsuit. It kept him warm for the short time we were outside, but he couldn't get up when he fell over.

One being who doesn't like the snow is Ruby.

She is just not a winter dog. She strains at her leash and shivers by the door. So far she has peed outside, but pooped strictly indoors. It's going to be a long few months of winter if she keeps that up.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Is it over yet?

I do love Christmas. From the sparkling trees, to the tasty cookies, and creamy egg nog, I very much look forward to this time of year. I will feel a lot better though when all my tasks are complete.

There's the decorating, the card-writing, the shopping, the wrapping, the planning, the cooking. The days quickly slip by and the calendar edges ever closer to December 25th. This year is a bit more complicated as we are flying east to visit T's family. That adds organizing, packing, and traveling to the to-do list. Should I wrap packages and check them in a piece of luggage? Should I carry them on and wrap them there? Should I ship? What to get all my sister's little boys? Stressful.

Gluttons for my punishment that we are, we added a cocktail party to the mix. It is this Friday, so I am planning the food and drinks and gearing myself up for a major housecleaning.

We are chugging along nicely toward the deadline. The tree is up, the stockings are hung, the cards are done and on their way, about half the gifts are purchased and a few are even already wrapped. I do feel a lot of satisfaction as I cross things off my list, ahead of schedule. I feel like I am in control when I complete my cards and stick on every last stamp.

But what if I didn't get it all done? Would it really matter? Though I enjoy most of the trappings of the holidays, I often wish it were all a little simpler. I could make this change myself of course, but I find myself swept along on the tide of tinsel, twinkling lights, and mall bargains, and I can't seem to pull myself out.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Going Rogue"

I finished Sarah Palin's book and didn't cringe as much as I thought I would. It was actually well-written though seemingly not by her. She included a letter she wrote to her family from God's point of view and it is in stark contrast to the writing in the rest of the book.

I do find her impressive in a lot of ways. She looks amazing, especially for having five kids. She has run a sub-four hour marathon, which is a goal of mine. And she is an involved mom as well as a successful careerwoman. Her book however, is fiercely partisan all the while criticizing partisanship. She is simple-minded about things like abortion, patriotism, and war, not recognizing how complicated those issues can be. And she completely entangles religion and politics while praising the Constitution. Isn't that a contradiction?

I'm glad I read her book. If nothing else, it gave a fascinating look into Alaska and political campaigning, but I am not likely to jump on the Palin bandwagon.


I have to admit, I have been a bit fascinated by the Tiger Woods scandal. Though I don't blame him for protecting his privacy, I am very curious. Whatever the truth may be, it shows even this incredible athlete with his beautiful wife, bulging bank accounts, and cute children has his own problems. None among us is perfect or has the ideal life, and I think this is kind of comforting in a strange way.