This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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After the stress

I’m all done. If you follow me on Facebook, or just know me in real life, you have heard this already. I’m sort of shouting it from the rooftops these days. ALL DONE! No more homework, no more assignments, no more papers, projects, or discussions. Tomorrow is graduation, and though I have elected not to attend, I’ll be officially a Master of Library and Information Science. A librarian. For real.

20151215_121607It’s not like I’m not busy anymore. It’s Christmas, after all. That’s the main reason I chose not to attend the graduation ceremonies tomorrow. The thought of dragging everyone up there for a 6pm ceremony, then bringing everyone home overtired and late, just didn’t appeal. Plus there are several other things on the calendar for Saturday, including a piano recital for the two big kids.

But somehow my brain is still processing this lack of school thing. For almost four years I’ve been in the thick of studying, or preparing for the next wave of classes. I’m having trouble just accepting that there is no next wave. Sure, I have to get a job now, and who knows what challenges I’ll find next, but this challenge has been met. And conquered. I’ve reached the shore and climbed out of the water. There are mountains to climb, and jungles to explore, but I think I’ll just sit here on the beach for a bit and enjoy my cocoa and cookies. Okay, maybe that’s not the best image.

Christmas is shaping up to be as lovely as anyone could want here. Except the weather. Not that I want to complain about something nobody can change, but I could use a few flurries. Or at least weather cool enough to force me to close my window at night! It’s like being back in Georgia. We may have to turn on the AC to run the gas fireplace on Christmas Eve this year. That’s just wrong.

Still, we’re rolling in blessings and I’m determined to remember each of them when I say my prayers at night. Enough blessings to induce guilt sometimes. I pray every day for ways to show my children how blessed we are. May they never, ever be unaware of how fortunate they are. I can’t stand to spend any more effort participating in the social media drama of the political discussions this month. I also can’t imagine remaining silent forever on some of these topics. But for the rest of 2015, I will enjoy these blessings with my family. I’ll keep teaching my children how blessed they are and encourage their compassionate natures. We’ll focus on the lessons of a tiny baby born in poverty who brought divinity to mankind. There’s no greater blessing than that one!

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Holiday cheer

Here we are again, my third year blogging through the holidays. I so love this time of year, and I’m already feeling like it’s flying by. This is the third year pushing through the holidays as a grad student, too. Thankfully, this is it! Graduation is Dec 18th and though I’ve opted to stay home, I’m really looking forward to calling it DONE! Elli Cucksey, MLIS!

Today, I’m putting the bins back in the basement, they’ve been emptied of their Christmas decor bounty. I’m rearranging the living room in preparation for getting the tree on Saturday. I’m pushing the laundry through as fast as it can dry. I’m generally putzing around the house. I’m ordering pictures for the Christmas cards.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to get the cards addressed. I may be trimming the list a bit. Last year’s 200 was a bit unwieldy. I’ll maybe bake brownies. Because, well, BROWNIES.

20151203_112044_hdr.jpgThe holidays always make me weepy, sometimes over sad stuff, sometimes with joy. You know what got me yesterday? Johnny Mathis belting “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” Yeah! I mean, “But the prettiest sight to see is the holly/
That will be on your own front door!” YES, I’ve got holly on MY front door, and it’s gorgeous. And then the end, “Soon the bells will start/
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing/
Right within your heart!” I’ve got a carol right within my heart!

Again, I’m keenly aware of my blessings, because of national events, because of family illnesses, because of friends going through difficult life changes. I’m praying that as long as my blessings last I’m aware and grateful. I’m praying for healing, in all its forms.


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#NaBloPoMo experiment FAIL! And other December reflections.

Yeah, I tried the post-a-day project for November pushed by BlogHer called NaBloPoMo. I tried, I really did. I failed. Spectacularly, I think. And as any good scientist will tell you, a failed experiment is still very valuable. I leaned some important things. First, I have NO BUSINESS trying to write a post every day. It’s obnoxious to me, to my family, to my readers (those who stayed), and just generally silly. I just don’t have that much interesting to say and that’s okay. It was never the intent of this blog to document in excruciating detail the operation that is running this house and raising this family and trying to record SOMETHING every single day just makes the things I do post feel forced, or boring, or whatever. I mean this blog to record our lives as my kids grow up, that’s true, but no more than any generation before the blog, I don’t have to remember everything, and it’s okay for some days to just pass in anonymous blurs. If I try the experiment again (and at the moment it’s not looking likely), I’d choose some kind of theme and just stick to that. Post a description of a single moment of each day, or one thing I’m thankful for each day (though, I have issues with that I wrote about here), or a genealogy tidbit, or maybe just a fashion question each day. Anyway, the open “write something” thing just didn’t work for me.

Second, I learned that a few folks WILL check in everyday if I write everyday. Not a huge following, but a few folks will read whatever I write and I appreciate it. Thanks, guys.

And lastly, I need to let things brew a while before I try to write about them. With the possible exception of the lists of things I want my children to learn and not learn from me, and maybe the Thanksgiving Eve poem, I don’t think I wrote anything of much value during the challenge. I’m not saying that lots of my posts before the challenge were super excellent, but I’m at least a little proud of some of them. Not so much during the challenge. As one regular reader told me recently, I’m never gonna win a Pulitzer, but still, it should be at least a little interesting.

Moving on from the NaBloPoMo, IT’S THE HOLIDAYS! December slipped up on me in the same way it does every year. Suddenly, it was Thanksgiving and BAM! time to put up the tree, shop, bake, decorate, fill up the calendar, blah, blah, blah. And then I blinked and December was sliding by in a hurry and it feels like I’ve been getting ready for the holidays for weeks on end and they’re almost over. I suppose part of it is because of the tree.

Ah, the tree. Maybe you remember when I wrote a completely self indulgent, lengthy but loving, post about MY Christmas tree last year. My tree means a lot to me. I invest a lot of emotional energy in that tree each year. I attach a lot, maybe too much, emotion and Christmas spirit to my tree. In short, I REALLY love my tree.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.21.29.jpg.jpegWe put our tree up as usual this year, purchasing it on the first Saturday in December, which was a little late this year, December 7th. We declined the vendor’s offer to put a fresh cut on the trunk, took it home and cut six inches off the bottom to make it just the right height. The tree seemed unstable when we got it in the usual stand, so thinking that the 15 year old stand had just seen better days, we used another stand we happened to have on hand. There was a weird trunk split about a third of the way down that caused the center of gravity to be slightly off, but carefully secured in the stand, everything seemed normal and stable. Off I went on my annual light extravaganza! I strung some SIXTEEN strands of light on that sucker, including an addition this year of three strands of C4 sized LED Phillips Warm White 60 count lights. I can’t afford to make the switch to LED in one leap, but I think the colors have come a long way and I thought I’d add some depth to the tree by adding some of the larger lights. It was magical. The camera doesn’t really capture the complete beauty, but it was as pretty a tree as I’d ever had. Once again, I felt like I’d captured some magic for my family and put it on display in the living room.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.27.03.jpg.jpegWe went on with the month of December and all it’s craziness. The second week of December is the last week of preschool, including the funny, silly program of preschoolers singing the same funny songs in all their sweet, frilly glory. There really isn’t anything cuter, unless it’s the one who doesn’t want to sing rubbing his belly. Sorry I didn’t get a better picture.

I worked my butt off on Friday to FINALLY get all the decorating remnants cleaned up and everything dusted and vacuumed and ready for company and parties over the weekend. I was thrilled to have gotten it all done on Friday evening, including haircuts for everyone! Saturday came and we packed the kids off to the grandparents and headed off to not one, but TWO parties with friends, and then even had dinner together with completely adult conversation before making it home for a decent bedtime on Saturday night.

We came home to a dark house and since we didn’t plan to stay up, we didn’t light the tree, or even wander through the front room on the way up to bed. The husband was snoring pretty quickly, but I wanted just one more cookie (that will teach me) so I wandered downstairs and just happened to glance into the dark living room on my way up the stairs.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.41.40.jpg.jpegwpid-20141214_151118.jpgThat’s when my heart sank. There it was, like a big fat dead body in on the living room carpet. My beautiful, wonderful, much loved tree had just dropped while we were out. Fell, fainted, collapsed, prostrated itself, DOWN! I woke the husband, who calls me hysterical when he tells the story. I maintain that I was simply upset, but I can see how it might have LOOKED like I was hysterical. There was glass EVERYWHERE. I was certain that every ornament I’d held dear was broken, that they were all gone. As it turned out there were only a few precious ones lost, most of the broken ornaments were just cheap glass ones I’d picked up over the years to fill it up. The wedding gift egg was the most precious and I might be able to glue it. Still, a sad loss.

But we have to go on, right? Christmas is still coming! When I stopped crying and got a good night’s sleep, we examined the tree and decided it was not salvageable. It was completely dried out. I thought I’d kept it watered enough, but the water had been low, so maybe I didn’t add enough. Maybe it had just been cut too long ago. Whatever the cause, the needles were dropping like it was mid-January and I couldn’t see rehanging my most loved ornaments on this traitor tree. I also couldn’t see buying a new real tree, unstringing the stupid amount of lights I like, and restringing them on the new one. The final solution was to get that awful, evil tree out of my house, and borrow an extra little tabletop model that Mom and Dad had in the basement. It isn’t ideal, but it works. I rode a roller coaster of emotions as I took out the old tree, but I could feel my Christmas spirit rebuilding as I decorated this little dear tree. In years to come, I’m sure my children will remember the “Year of The Tiny Tree” and I hope it’s a happy memory, though it will always be bittersweet to me.

So, the upshot of the whole story is that I have been getting READY for Christmas forever. And now it feels like BAM, it’s almost over. It isn’t, but I know how fast these next two weeks will fly by. We will have “Christmas” with two different sections of the family this weekend and a dinner for a nephew graduating from college (Congrats, Alec!). Plus a bonus piano recital! And then the kids will be out of school next week. Thankfully, their father is off all week between Christmas and New Year’s this year. I look forward to some quite family time, though we’ll probably spend most of it cleaning out the basement and preparing to have friends over for New Year’s Eve.

Through all, I just want to remember that life is so good, I am so blessed.

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Christmas Pageant rehearsal

I love kids. I love my kids, and other people’s kids most of the time. I love kids shows, and I love directing amateur productions. But I think I would rather die than direct a children’s production. It’s chaos. It’s insane. It’s WORSE than herding cats.

Thankfully it’s not my job.

But Girlie got a big speaking part in this year’s Sunday School production. So, each Sunday evening until the production, I’ll drive her over to the church for practice and watch her flounder with her lines and experience the frustration of not being able to will her to speak louder and clearer and with better diction. Gah, I have issues!

Still, she’s worked hard already to memorize her lines. And watching kids try to do this is sweet and makes me teary-eyed. And that’s my girl! She’s trying so hard and she’s going to be great.

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I could complain…

I could whine about how I got nothing done this week in the way of basement cleaning and pre-holiday deep cleaning. I could whine about my headache, or how whiny the kids are, or how I’ve been running non-stop since my feet hit the ground this morning. I could complain about the huge amount of laundry my husband is about to bring home from his week away (though, in fairness, he’ll do most of it himself), or the gear that he will spread out for two days while he carefully packs it away for next year. I could moan about how I really have to wash the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher because the dishwasher stinks and we had potato soup so everything will be covered with potato starch.

I’m not going to, though. I’m just not. The house will get clean and Christmas will come either way. The kids are going to bed before long, and they’ll be fine. Part of their whininess is that they got flu vaccines today and I’m much more comfortable about the beginning of flu season. I’ve got a decent working washer and dryer so the laundry will get done and I don’t even have to haul it anywhere to do it.  All that gear will get packed neatly into a corner of the basement and my husband will not leave for eight days in a row again for another year. We had a wonderful, warm, comforting soup for dinner.

And it might be too early to decorate, but it’s not to early to drag out my favorite Christmas mug for a cup of coffee to try and ease my headache with caffeine. Just can’t forget that life is good.

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The truth about the OUR Family Christmas pictures

I wrote the bulk of this post for LiveJournal in 2007. I’ve been stressing about Christmas cards pretty much every year since I started having children. Some people have cooperative children and get lovely Christmas shots every year. Me? Not so much. These kids are all related to Chandler Bing.

I thought I’d share the stress I found just a few years in and then share a bit of what I’ve learned since. Enjoy.

I have been sending Christmas cards pretty regularly for a couple years now.  Since Annie was born, anyway.  (So, get me your address if you’re one of those old friends I’ve recently reconnected with!)  I love the opportunity to send people I only speak with once or twice a year, a picture of my beautiful children.  I imagine them admiring their sweet faces and placing the card on the fridge where it will gather dust until July or so and then be tossed out with the expired pizza coupons they were covering up.  I know, I know.  Many of these cards end up in the trash within minutes of opening.  Now that’s a sin, don’t you think?  Those beautiful faces in the trash?  I won’t think of it.  And some stay in the Christmas card pile to be thrown out en masse.  I can live with that.  They didn’t look right at my children’s faces and toss them in with the eggshells, or empty milk carton if they recycle. 

I love having my own cards printed.  It seems so personal, but finished.  A big picture of my child(ren), but a message I thought out myself.  Still, I cannot bring myself to have our names printed inside.  I feel the need to sign each and every individual card with a short, but personal message, and my actual name written in my own hand.  Nevermind that I also sign for my children and husband.  To me (and there’s no offense meant to those who send me these cards each year), sending those pre-signed cards with no message says, “Hey, I thought of you for 2.8 seconds this year while I put the stamp on this envelope.”  Especially because most of the time, these cards come with a computer printed label with my address.  In that case, the sender may not even be aware that he HAS sent me a card!  I’ve sent out batches of résumés with more personal thought.

Annie’s first Christmas, the only one for which she was the only subject of the photography session, was so much fun.  My mother helped me get the shot when she was visiting for Thanksgiving.  We dressed my sweet 10 month old in a lovely red corduroy dress with the sweetest matching tam.  We sat her on a white sheet and surrounded her with little colored lights, greenery, and some not-too-breakable tree ornaments.  She was so enthralled with this stuff.  She seemed to know instinctively that it was a pile of stuff she wouldn’t normally be allowed to touch.  She drew the lights up over her head, then down in her lap.  She pointed with her tiny finger at a blue one and starred right at it.  Snap!  Got the shot.  The card was perfect with the caption, “May the wonder of the season stay with you throughout the New Year.”  Sweet, cheery, pretty.  Done.

  

The next year, I started trying for the elusive Card Picture around the first of November.  I wanted to get it all done and printed so that I could take my time signing and addressing, by hand of course.  I chose some sweet holiday-ish outfits for the kids.  Annie, now 22 months, in a sweet flannel Stausburg dress of blue checks, and Sammy, at 7 months or so, in his holiday snowman sweater with the sleeves rolled up.  For our first session, I dressed the kids and put them on our red couch, gave them each a giant jingle bell and starting shooting.  Thank heaven for the digital camera.  I would have ruined a lot of film!  They grabbed the bells from each other.  Sammy put them in his mouth.  Annie grabbed Sam’s cheek so hard, she left red marks.  Session over.

  

  

Session Two came up by accident.  I realized one day that Sammy had on a dark green and red plaid one piece thing, and Annie was wearing a black sweater with a big pink snowflake on the front.  The session went about as well as the first, but in the end, I think the picture we used came from this day.  There were several more “sessions” of chaos, but nothing I want to remember.  Why does a seven month old child get SO upset when you aim a camera at him and want him to sit next to his sister for .8 seconds?  And WHY must a 22 month old girl hug the STUFFING out of her little brother just because you picked up the camera?  Around the second week of December, in desperation, I ordered 50 copies of the best snapshot in the bunch and stuck them on some of those photo cards you can get at Target.

  

Last year, I got smart.  I began dressing the kids in outfits that looked good photographed together on a regular basis.  I always had the camera at the ready.  I snapped HUNDREDS of pictures of them together in an attempt to get that one Card Picture.  Anytime they were even close to each other, I’d try to get them both looking at the camera.  There are files and files on my hard drive of pictures where their hair is sticking up, they’ve food on their faces, or the background is a baby gate or something equally as attractive.  Eventually, I got a semi-decent shot.  I ordered beautiful cards in two patterns from Vistaprint.com and I loved them.  Great, huh? 

Except now the bar is set.  The pressure is on.  It’s not even Halloween and I’m OBSESSING about these damn pictures already.  Like I have NOTHING ELSE TO WORRY ABOUT!  Somebody, please talk me back from the edge!

Those were just the first THREE years! The next couple years didn’t go much better. The next year these were the best of the bunch.

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In 2009 we moved to a new house with a big fire place and hearth. I was sure that I could get a wonderful shot in front of the stockings and poinsettias.  HA! I dressed them up and stood them there. After an hour or so of frustration and tears, both mine and theirs, I gave up. In the end, I sent a photo collage with a whole lot of laughable out take shots.

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In 2010 we had new a new baby. In the fall, we hired a photography student to take family portraits of our family, including my parents and my brother. I put together a card with some of those images, and I was fairly pleased with the result. Easiest year of all, I guess, but I can’t afford even a student EVERY year. And even she had trouble getting a great shot of all three of them! (She’s working as a professional now, and I’m happy to send her some business. Her name is Ashley West, and I don’t even get a kickback.)2010 card

2011 came and I snapped this shot on Thanksgiving. I printed wallets of this and each of the kids’ school pictures and put them in small cards. Done. Call it a punt.

2011 card

2012 we went to Disney and since they make it so easy to have pictures taken with your whole family, I sent wallets of one of the shots the Mouse took. Again, punt.

Animal Kingdom pass

2013 I felt like I needed to step up my game, so I went back to the folly of trying to get a great shot of all three. I tried for weeks. We hadn’t spent real money on cards in several years so I was willing to order nice cardstock  prints this year, I just needed to get the right shot. Dozens of tries. Gave up. Fine, I’ll just put separate shots of the kids on the card. Again, no luck. Finally, I drug them out in the yard before school and told them to smile. I got lucky, I guess. I ordered them THAT DAY!Fullscreen capture 11182014 10841 PM.bmp

 

This year, I’m not willing to spend a fortune since I did last year. But of course, I got great shots in the leaves a couple weeks ago. Yeah, it’s more fall than winter. Yeah, you’ve all already seen them. I don’t care! They are great shots and they are going on the cards!

 


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Grandparents

Another month has slipped by with nothing to show for it here. It was a rough month, I guess.  I’ve been working on this entry for a while and it really doesn’t feel finished. Still, it’s time to let it go, to put it up. Just a few things I feel like sharing.

I lost my last grandparent on October 2. On my wedding day, in 2001, all four of my grandparents, and two of my husband’s, were in attendance. They all danced at our wedding, and we felt so blessed to have them there. Instead of throwing the bouquet, I gave it to the set of grandparents married the longest, just short of 60 years at the time.

They are all gone now. But I know a couple things about them that need to be shared. They were flawed, quirky, brilliant, strong people, and you should know a few other things.

  • They loved us. All of them, all of us. Nobody, ever, in the history of grandchildren has been more cherished and loved than the 30 some grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even one great great grandchild of these grandparents. Loved so deeply that their example will live long after their deaths.
  • They loved each other. My husband’s grandfather called her Babe. It was sweet and silly and gave me goosebumps. He held her hand whenever he could. My paternal grandfather was so fiercely protective of my grandmother it left an impression on everyone who knew them. And my maternal grandfather, the last to leave us, spoke regularly in his final weeks of just wanting to dance again with Grandma.
  • They were people of enormous faith. My grandparents-in-law spent most of their married life working in the Methodist church in their community. Their funerals were held there. All four of my own grandparents were members of the Emanuel Lutheran in Marion, Ohio. All their children were baptised there, as was I, and all four funerals were held there. At each of their funerals we sang their favorite hymns and praised God for the gift of their lives, and commended their souls to the arms of Jesus. Each time, I was struck as they wheeled out the casket that it was the last time they’d leave the church.

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These are my maternal grandparents. Seems like all the pictures I have of them together are like this. He is always looking at her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15340667190_a6fbf0200e_oI love this picture of my paternal grandmother, and the inscription on the back. I believe it’s the picture Grandpa carried with him to the South Pacific in WWII.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I got into a discussion on Facebook about how to make the holidays a little better after losing a loved one. Some people are of the mind that a change is needed, something different, to keep from getting “stuck in sad.” I know where they’re coming from, I understand completely. I just don’t agree. For me, it’s really important that our Thanksgiving and Christmas will be pretty much the same as ever. There will be an absence, for sure, but we’ll tackle the new reality. My grandparents haven’t hosted these holidays for a long time, so it’s easy to carry on. We’ll still gather at my parents’ home for Christmas. There will still be thirty people or so gathered. We’ll still tell the same stories, sing the same songs, and yell at the same kids. It won’t always be that way. There will certainly continue to be an evolution to these holidays, but they won’t change because we lost one of the senior members of our family. The circle of life (Yes, I did just see the Lion King on stage and it was fabulous) will keep going. We’ll laugh and remember them. We’ll tell stories and poke fun. They were wonderful people, all of them, but they had short comings and flaws, too.

Someday we’ll have to gather somewhere else, and kids growing up and having their own families will change the make up of the group that can gather. Still, I hope that my family, or some portion of it, will always continue to gather on these holidays. We are so lucky to be such a bunch of loving, crazy, nutcases! Holidays have not been a place for folks to fight or ignore each other in my family. We’re as nutty and dysfunctional as the next family, but we love being together. What a gift! Thank you, God for my family!

 

Thanksgiving 2011

The crowd that gathered for Thanksgiving, 2011.

 

And if you’d like to see it, here’s the wonderful video my uncle made for Grandpa’s memorial. I think he did an excellent job.

 

 

 

 


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“Too much of a good thing” or “Time keeps on ticking, ticking…”

I just read a friend’s Facebook status that got me thinking. She posted, in part, “It’s been the loveliest of holiday seasons, but I’m excessed out. Welcoming January and austerity in all things.” Hadn’t thought of it until then, but that’s exactly how I feel.

raw-veggie-and-hummus1If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the last few months you know that I adore the holidays. From Halloween right through to Epiphany, I just love it all. The anticipation of November, the chaos and parties of December, even this last week of the year that feels a little like limbo. I love it. I’m really excited about New Year’s Eve and the fun we’ll have with neighbors tomorrow night. But something about my friend’s status knocked me out. I AM ready for some austerity. I am craving simplicity in lots of ways. I want simple foods like toast and raw veggies. I want to drink water, maybe juices. I want to wear nothing but pajamas or jeans and sneakers for a week straight. I want to go to church and worship with predictable, liturgical services.

I wonder why we do this. Is it a human thing, or something our modern culture has taken to the next level? We don’t have to feast to increase our fat reserves while the food is plentiful, before the long bleak winter. I have had such a wonderful Christmas season, but I’m ready for there not to be any cookies or chocolates on my kitchen counter. I’m ready to have simple meals that clean up quickly and let me just sit with the kids. School will resume for me soon enough, too, and I’ll be missing that mental down time.

Competitive Hat Stackers Party, complete with trash talking

Competitive Hat Stackers Party, complete with trash talking

Not that we haven’t enjoyed some simple pleasures over the last few weeks. There have been lots of board games played. The grown ups watched all of the first season of “House of Cards.” (I highly recommend it! Kevin Spacey is phenomenally bad!) I’ve experimented with cooking some of the venison from my husband’s successful hunt back in November. Several mornings I got to actually sleep in without getting up just because a kid was awake. I scraped a few things off our plates this season so we wouldn’t be too stressed, and it worked, but it’s still, well, excessive. Despite our best efforts, the kids haven’t slept quite as much as they should. Meals have been irregular, and usually consist of at least 50% cookies. The house is a wreck, every room strewn with leftover bits of wrapping paper and ribbon. There are shrink wrapped boxes of science experiments and LEGO kits, shirt boxes with tissue paper still inside, and the tree is dropping needles on top of it all. Christmas just seems tired.

This is why I have to live where there are seasons. I was so excited for this season and now I’m excited for it to be over. I will enjoy winter for a bit longer, hoping for more snow with each weather forecast, and then I’ll be done with that, and ready for spring. I’ll watch for green shoots and blooms and enjoy having the windows open, then I’ll hate putting the air conditioner on but will revel in taking the kids to the pool each day of the heat. I’ll be SO ready for fall to arrive and the kids to go back to school. I NEED this constant change and turnover. I can’t say why, but I do. I need lots of external stimuli to give me constant feedback on the progression of time. And looking back over the past, particularly since my children were born, knowing what season it was has helped me place so many memories on the timeline. I can remember that Girlie was just about two when she said that funny thing that one time when everyone laughed because it was really cold out, lots of snow. And Middle Bird was just about three when he got so dirty that one time and dirtied up everything because he wearing shorts, but long sleeves, so it must have been spring, not far from his late March birthday.

Time and it’s passage is becoming a recurring theme for me, huh?

 


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So, how was your Christmas?

Mine was/is lovely. It’s still Christmas in my mind, though, I know that technically it was just yesterday in our culture. We will not be celebrating the full 12 days of Christmas, but for today, Boxing Day, for me and my family, this day is JUST as special. We won’t leave the house today. Most of us won’t even get dressed. I put a venison roast (I should write about how that came to be, I guess) in the oven since it wouldn’t fit in the Crock Pot, but it’s been cooking since 10:00 at 225 degrees. We’ve been picking at leftover desserts brought home from yesterday’s feast and candy from the stockings. My husband and I drank coffee until it was time to switch to beer and wine respectively and we’re just hanging out. The big kids are working on LEGO kids that Santa brought, and the little one is enthralled with a new video game. I LOVE Boxing Day.

Yesterday was so different, but just as lovely. The kids got up early and our house is much the same as any other house with kids on Christmas morning. Then we dressed and headed to my parent’s house for more Christmas gift exchanging. This year we were one more since it’s the first year my brother’s girlfriend has joined us. We really like her and hope she’ll be around for many more Christmases. The kids were impatient and whiny and overtired, but it was lovely. Then Mom and I whirled around making food and cleaning up before the huge extended family descended on us. It’s loud and chaotic and a bit crazy, but wonderful. My sweet introverted husband is such a good sport about adapting to our loud-mouthed, matriarchal group. It was a wonderful day. I could tell you more, but I’ll  just leave you with some pictures of the wonderful people I love so much. Feel free to ignore them, but I felt I should show them to you. This is our Christmas.

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My brother and his lovely girlfriend.

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My aunt and her sons

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My mom and her great nephew

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My cousin and our grandpa

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My handsome Grandpa, lookin’ good!

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Our elders, Grandpa and his sister, my great aunt

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Grandpa and our youngest family member, his great great grandson

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Mom taking a breather

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Two of my gorgeous cousins

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My brother teaching Middle Bird to play chess on the glass chess set he got him for Christmas

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Two of my pretty cousins taking a selfie

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My cousin and his girlfriend who he should just go ahead and pop the question to already!

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My Grandpa and another of his great grandchildren, who happens to be mama to that sweet baby.

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Sweet smilie boy

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My and my baby

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My parents and my kids

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My mom and my lovely aunts

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My grandpa and a bunch of his great grands

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I’m panicking a little…

Just a little. Not the usual holiday panic about getting it all done. I’m good. I don’t bake tons, I do some shopping, but not a crazy amount. There is a little wrapping that still needs to be done, but those gifts won’t be exchanged until December 28th. The kids are out of school, so they will be here wanting to eat and make messes all day, but that’s not such a big deal. What I’m panicking about is that it’s going to be over soon. Wasn’t it just a few days ago that I was so excited that the season was just beginning? Wasn’t it just yesterday we got the tree? How is it already just a few days before Christmas? How do you folks who take your tree down on the 26th do it? How do you stand all this buildup and hype, the anticipation and excitement and then, BAM, wake up just one day after the climax and it’s over? I mean, don’t get me wrong. Come January, I’ll be ready to get the kids back in school and get back to a regular schedule and a normal life. But I can’t just hit a brick wall like that. I just can’t. 

So, I’m panicking just a tad that the holidays of 2013, when my babies are 3, 8, and 9, is just flying by. Next year Girlie Bird will be 10, almost 11, at Christmas. The teenage years are just MINUTES away. And Baby Bird, he’s going to be almost FIVE next Christmas and hurdling toward kindergarten. Once they’re all in school, and I’m working full time again, THEN I’ll be a mess at Christmas, I guess. I don’t know how I’ll get it all done then.

I’m freaking out a bit that the year is coming to a close a little too soon, but maybe it isn’t the holidays that are moving too fast. Maybe what’s really got me scrambling is the thought that I’m going to turn around and the years of Santa Claus and childhood magic will be nothing by happy memories. I’ll be glad to have those memories, but I just want to hang on to the sweetness of the present.Image