Friday, December 3, 2010

Scrooge, Interrupted

I'm not nearly as crotchety as Scrooge, yet every holiday season I struggle with the meaning of Christmas and how it manifests in my holiday celebrations. Until tonight I never had a good answer for myself on combating the gross commercialization that has sucked real meaning from the season. I have become an emotional Scrooge, bah-humbugging my way to the end of the year as I make myself crazy figuring out how much money to spend on whom, and for what.

Then there's the matter of trying to raise kids who realize that Christmas should not be about getting gifts, or even giving gifts to our loved ones (stay with me). It shouldn't be about gifts at all. But again, I've been at a total loss on what should fill that void, and how to do it. And then tonight I had a revelation of sorts.

Christmas is, ultimately, about LOVE.

It is the celebration of Jesus's birth- but to what end was he born? Jesus didn't walk around handing out the first century equivalent of ipods and XBOX 360 games. He walked among us to help us, to show God's love for us... he was born so that he could give his life for our eternal salvation whether we want it or not. Therefore, his life is about God's love.

We're living in a time when the economy is going down the toilet, when so many willing to work must do without it because the jobs simply are not there; this is a time when banks and big businesses have made incredibly reckless decisions and yet received bailouts on the tax payers dollar to continue business as usual.

Meanwhile, unemployment benefits are expiring leaving millions of people in our country even more desperate to find ways to buy food for their families, and pay for basic utilities like water and electricity... for many of them, the hyper-commercialized Christmas season may be an even more depressing time because they simply cannot give even when they want to. Just day to day living is sucking up every bit of income they've got. When necessities are hard to come by, something has got to give. And I get that. I totally do. And it breaks my heart that when many get the chance to receive something- anything, for Christmas, they'll ask for things most of us take for granted- toiletries, sweatshirts, blankets, pillowcases, socks, food...

We live in a time when our legislators are clearly uninterested in helping the American people ease their burdens even just a little bit, and billions of our tax dollars are going to fund causes overseas. In light of this the meaning of Christmas (to me) became undeniably clear.


We can only help ourselves so much, our government will help us hardly at all. But we are not hopeless. No one is hopeless. Because despite these uncomfortable facts, it is more important then ever that we come together and help each other. Jesus came to show God's love for us, and in turn, we should use this time to celebrate his birth by taking care of each other. Our loved ones already know we love them, and it's great to show them even more during the holidays with gift cards and goodies. But what about those who struggle to keep warm? Jesus showed kindness to strangers... that was sort of his MO. And I think it should be ours, too.

As far as raising ungrateful, materialistic punks, I realize I also had that all wrong, too. I shouldn't strive to make them grateful by depriving them of the luxuries they want, or harping on them about being grateful for the things they already have. Likely, my best chance at raising grateful children would be by teaching them the joy of helping others who need it. Emotionally, physically, materially. I can teach them to be grateful by teaching them to spread the love.

My renewed philosophy on the holidays, then, boils down to this-

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2

Love is the reason for the season. We don't have to have Scrooge's millions of dollars to make a difference, either. We just have to harness the power of One- one person, reaching out to fill another's need in love. This is the only way I can think of to truly honor the birth of Christ.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Santa's Going Green

I was chatting with Santa the other day and he was telling me about his renewed commitment to reduce environmental waste. Besides, with the economy being crap these days, wrapping paper seems like such a waste of resources.

"Ach, wrapping paper!" He said ruefully. "I hate that stuff anyways! My elves take so much time and care to wrap each gift and the kids rip it to shreds within seconds and the paper ends up in the trash! Noone ever remembers how elegantly a gift is wrapped, anyways."

I know what he means. I hate wrapping gifts, too. And then there's all that extra trash to contend with.

"So, what are you going to do instead?" I asked.
"Furoshiki." he said. I thought he'd sneezed.
"Bless you?"
"No, no, furoshiki. That's my solution this year. Replace wrapping paper with fabric. I've even hired a consultant to train the elves on the different ways toys can be wrapped using furoshiki. Google it."

So I did. And you know what? Santa is fucking BRILLIANT! Here's a little video to give you some idea on ways to do this:

Besides wrapping, I've been thinking of all the ways a furoshiki cloth can be used once the gift getting is all said and done. Here's what I've come up with so far:

* A tote bag
* Toy shopping bag
* Small apron
* Shawl
* Cloth napkins or table cloths for playtime
* Doll blankets

What do you think? Will Santa be dropping off paper wrapped gifts this year or is he going green at your house, too?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

These days will fly by

I bought perfume today- Love by Nina (Ricci) limited edition. I haven't worn, much less bought perfume in over 6 years so this is a big deal for me. And like everything else I try, the girls are completely taken with the novelty of spray that makes you smell pretty. I don't think the cute little apple shaped bottle it comes in makes it any less enticing.

After their bath tonight they wanted a spritz. Because I have a short memory and am prone to lapses of judgement that end up in DOH! moments, I said sure. And gave them each a spritz. I mistakenly thought "a little dab'll do" them and their need to smell lovely would be sated. Riiiiiight. D'OH!

Twenty minutes later I was instantly overpowered by the now familiar fruity aroma of my newly purchased eau de toilet. As you know, even the most pleasant of scents can become an assault on your senses in excess. I'm sad to say that my living room is now awash in the perfume, and not in a good way. I have a headache, and my throat feels weird.

"Did you spray more perfume?" I asked the smelly offender without looking up. In response I heard "these days will fly by" in a soft and cryptic tone. I looked up to see Allie intensely fiddling with her handmade magic wand. Puzzled, I asked her to repeat herself. She repeated her enigmatic statement in the same low, trance like tone.

"These days will fly by..."

"Was it you?" I asked her suspiciously. She was practically chanting then, seeing as how her non-sequitor response was the only response she was giving up. My brain thought, thank you so much, Nostradamus. But my mouth said, "What do you mean by that?"

She lifted her eyes, peering at me from behind her choppy bangs. Pure mischief.
"These days will fly by. Tomorrow is a different day and then it won't matter that Sofia ruined my wand." I
paused, carefully considering my response. I mean, I couldn't exactly argue with that logic. And I was glad she had concluded that. But right then I didn't give a damn about Sofia and her magic wand. We're talking about my perfume, here.

"You're right," I said. "but I need to know that you understand you are NEVER to touch my perfume again without asking. Do you hear me?"
"It doesn't matter." she murmured, her attention still on her wand.
"Actually, it does. Don't touch it. Do you understand?"
After a brief hesitation, Allie grinned again and replied, yes.
"Just so we're clear, you won't touch my perfume tomorrow or in any of the days after it, right?"

And now, stewing in the thick residue of Love By Nina permeating the living room, I'm left wondering two things:
Where should I hide my perfume so their grubby hands can't find it, and what the hell is going on in Allie's head?

Although I'm not sure I want an answer to that last one...
These days will fly by, indeed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition

Know what my favorite thing about having young kids in the house is? How everything turns into an Inquisition. EVERYTHING.

As I was getting the girls up for school this morning I noticed Sofia was unusually warm so I checked her temp. When 100.2 came up on the thermometer I decided she, along with Allie (who also had a fever) were staying home from school today. I didn't even bother waking Sofia up, since she wouldn't be going to school anyways. Once she finally did an hour later she looked at the clock and said, "Oh, no! We're missing breakfast!" (they serve it at school every morning). I told her she had a fever and she was staying home and she asked how many days she had slept. Confused, I replied the way I always do when I'm uncertain of the question- "yes." Unsurprisingly this answer was insufficient.

S: How many days was I sleeping mom? HOW MANY?
me: ummmm, one.
S: So I'm sick because I slept a whole day?
me: No. You didn't sleep a whole day. You slept a whole night, like you do every night.
S: Is that why I'm not going to school?
me: No. You're not going to school because you have a fever.
S: So I have a fever because I slept all night?
me: (sighing) ...yes.

S: Mom, how come I'm not going to school today?
me: Because you have a fever.
S: So I'm sick?
me: yes.
S: How do you know I won't be sick tomorrow?
me: I don't know but I hope you're not sick tomorrow
S: If I'm not sick I go back to school?
me: yes
S: How do you know I'm going to school tomorrow?
me: I just said I don't know.
S: How do you know I'm not going to school tomorrow?
me: I don't know. I hope you do.
S: BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW I won't be sick?! HOW?!
me: (utterly resigned) Yes.
S: Yes WHAT?!
me: I. DON'T. KNOW.

still later (Groundhog Day, anyone?):
S: mom, how do you know I won't be sick tomorrow?
me: uggggh. I. Just. Know.
S: because you're psychic?
me: yes.
S: oh, so you looked into my brain? And saw that tomorrow I would be better?
me: (seeing an opening) YES. YES. I looked into you're brain and saw you would be better.
S: okay.

Good God. Why didn't I just start with that?!
As I said, nobody expects (the Spanish) Inquisition.


What's better than having 2 sick kids at each others' throats all day? Listening to them have at it after one decides she's only going to communicate on paper because her throat hurts so badly!

following a disagreement:

S: ... you hate me?
A: (shakes her head)
S: you hate me a little?
A: (nods her head)
S: what's wrong with you, why aren't you talking?
A: (writes) my throat hurts
S: so you're not talking?
A: (writes) not for the rest of the night
S: you should take some medicine or something so you can talk again...
A: (indicates she wants some of Sofia's ramen)
S: you want my noodles? Just a little bit?
(spoons some onto a plate for Allie)
Here. That's all you get and you don't throw a fit

Okay, well as far as fights go, this was actually pretty civil but they were fighting earlier, Allie responding by writing in her notebook and putting it in Sofia's face. I could give you a better idea of how funny that was but I can't remember what they were fighting about at the time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Sweetest Thing

Holidays aren't usually my thing. They're my husband's thing, but since he's currently unavailable, the task of making Halloween an enjoyable occasion fell solely on my shoulders this year. But I have awesome friends, and I love getting together with them and our kids love each other, so it wasn't too much of a sacrifice to take the girls out trick-or-treating myself this year because, really, I was far from alone!

Altogether our group consisted of 11 kids (12 if you include the baby, which I didn't) and 9 adults. Believe me, we needed every single one of us to make sure we didn't accidentally lose anyone as we made our way from house to house! But we all made it around and back with fairly little drama and the entire kid-tourage intact. I call that a victory!

But the best part of my night so far was after the candy-corn panhandling was done, after a lovely time just hanging out with my friends while our kids raided and compared their loot, after getting the girls home...

Right before going to bed, Sofia came downstairs with a TWIX in hand (it's one of my favorites). She handed it to me and said, "mommy, I just want to give you this TWIX to thank you because I had a really good time tonight."

Now, I really LOVE chocolate. Really, really. I have a wicked sweet tooth. But you know what? That moment was definately sweeter than all of the candies the girls brought home last night put together. Better, even, than the pumpkin pie cheesecake waiting in the fridge for me.

For once I was extremely grateful that I went ahead and participated in Halloween, even without my partner in crime here to enjoy it for me. But that one moment was certainly the sweetest thing I could have experienced last night, and possibly even the nights to come.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Feels Like Rocket Science

This is Gwennyth. She’s a Newborn.

Newborns are the hottest accessory for fashion- forward mamas, doncha know? Don't believe me? Walk into your local Target- any Target and look around (or maybe this is just in Tucson). You can’t swing a fully loaded diaper bag without hitting a woman sporting one. They come in all shapes and sizes, although you don’t really get to choose your Newborn the way you get to decide on nursery themes.

(FYI-I spent eight and a half months and 10 hours waiting to get my latest Newborn, so if you want one of your own, prepare to be wait listed.)

A variety of accessories are available for Newborns, and sorting through them all trying to decide which ones you want can be mind numbing. It's like brain freeze, but worse. Baby Brain Freeze is triggered as soon as you enter into the baby aisle at the retail store of your choice in search of all those things necessary to keep your Newborn alive and thriving. Baby Brain Freeze happens regardless of what you’re shopping for and even if this is not your first Newborn- it’s totally indiscriminate.

For example, let’s say your Newborn needs bottles. So you head to your favorite shopping haven and steer the cart into the bottle aisle. Several shelves of varied bottles refract the overhead fluorescent lights off of their surface. You step forward to take a closer look and then realize how many types of bottles and nipples there are to choose from. At first you think, woohoo! Choices! You begin scanning the shelves, looking at how each type is different from one another and yet not.

Attracted by the colorful butterflies decorating one BPA free bottle, you pick up the box, flip to the back and begin reading about its benefits. Then back it goes so you can compare it to another brand. This one isn't as colorful but it promises to reduce gassiness and raise your Newborns IQ by 100 points. Sounds good, you think, but your baby isn't so far the really gassy sort. The IQ boost sounds good, though, but you keep looking. It isn't long before you're eyes go from scanning the boxes to frantically darting between them. Baby Brain Freeze begins to really set in. A glance at your watch tells you that you've been standing there for nearly a half hour and you still haven't chosen a bottle. Your Newborn whimpers from her car seat, serving only to increase your panic. Eventually you find yourself pumping your fist and railing at the gods about all the godforsaken choices.


Your attention returns to the pantheon of baby bottles.

Which one should you pick? Vented, anti-colic, natural breast shaped nipple, angled, wide mouth... 5 oz, 10 oz...  Before long you're glassy eyed and slack jawed, completely checked out of this world until the drool hits your shoe. The sheer weight of making a decision is suddenly paralyzing. NO decision is a little decision when you have a Newborn. Get the wrong bottle, and you're baby may spit up more, become more colicky, gassy, lose IQ points or (if you're breast feeding), reject your very own nipples in favor of the clear, BPA free silicone ones and never drink from your au natural tap ever again.

Your Newborn, the reason for your Baby Brain Freeze, stirs again in her car seat. Her face is getting all pinchy, and the rosy color spreading across it is like a theater curtain, alerting you that the Newborn is getting restless because you’re TAKING TOO LONG! It’s not rocket science, but it sure feels like it.

When consciousness returns, you realize you're disgusted with being brain locked and begin grabbing one of each box off the shelf and tossing them in the cart. The strategy evolves from buying the best to hoping for the best and burn shopping cart rubber out of the baby section. But at the checkout you realize you also need more formula, so back you go. And even though you've been using formula for weeks, Baby Brain Freeze starts up. ALL. OVER. AGAIN.


If you think you’re immune to Baby Brain Freeze because you’re a veteran baby maker, you’re in for a rude awakening. Unlike most other pregnancy symptoms, Baby Brain Freeze will creep up on you with every child you welcome into the world. Every. Single. One. Products evolve at an astonishing rate these days so there's a very good chance that all the things you used for the baby you had just two years ago have been replaced with those touting new and improved features!

I like to think that these days, even a rocket scientist would find themselves rocking back and forth in the baby goods section, wondering why universities don't offer PhD programs in Shopping for Baby.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Entropic Life

Entropy is the natural tendency of the Universe to dissolve into a state of chaos. Much like my life- particularly my life as a mom. Maybe even everyone else's life as a parent is like this- i don't know.

I have a hard time with routines, despite my best efforts and endless charts, lists and schedules. I'm almost positive this encourages the chaos. But I've learned a lot about myself over the last several years and one thing I've realized is that, right or wrong, I've just got to embrace the madness. Fighting it just makes me tired. And cranky. And tired and cranky already come easy enough to me.

So join me as I chronicle the journey to manage the mayhem that is my life, will ya? Laugh at me, cry with me and most of all, enjoy being a voyeur of my entropic life.

Stay tuned for my next post on Domestic Politics. You won't be sorry, pinky swear.

Domestic Politics

Around the nation, officials and voters alike are getting ready to head to the polls come November. Unfortunately for me, my 7 year old has caught Election Fever, and announced that in mid-November there will be a domestic election for the King and Queen of our household (never mind there's only one male living here. And that Kings and Queens aren't normally elected). She even made up campaign posters.


this is supposed to be me

It should be quite obvious who the front runners are for Queen of the House (If not, you may want to get your eyes checked).  Oddly, it certainly isn't me.

What do you suppose the implications would be if I lost the election to be the Queen of the House to my 7 year old? *shudder*

I don't even want to think about it. So, I won't.

However, I will say, if Allie happens to approach you about your vote, tell her you're going to VOTE FOR ME!! I'm not always mean. Only sometimes. But as long as you pick up your shoes off the floor and refrain from flooding the bathroom floor every time you take a bath, I think you and I will do juuuuust fine.