Friday, December 29, 2006

What was the moral of that story again?

We had a secondary gift exchange last night with the inlaws. My son behaved atrociously and pouted about only receiving one gift. And by pouting, I mean whined loud and long to anyone who would listen while pawing through the remaining gifts to make absolutely sure that he had not missed anything. Once I crawled out of the gaping hole of shame which had enveloped me, I tried the time-honored starving children in Africa approach. "You know, Buddy, some kids only get one gift for Christmas at all. That's all they get is one gift. Just be grateful and happy that you have that awesome pirate raft." That stopped him for a minute and he was mulling it over. Then an adult cousin contributed, "Some kids don't even have toys! They play with a stick and a stone!" My son's face brightened considerably and he replied, "They could play baseball then! Awesome!"

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I've read two news stories today. Pipeline Explosion and GM Executive Opposes Fuel Economy Proposal.


I went to Mass with my parents and son on Christmas Eve. One of the parish doyennes had crafted luminaries out of gallon milk jugs. There were hundreds of them, spaced 2 or 3 feet apart on both sides of the sidewalk then length of the entire block and around the corner. They were unbelievably, amazingly beautiful. One milk jug with some sand and an emergency candle in daylight is tacky. Hundreds of them in the twilight are magical. We walked into the church and found a pew while the children's choir was singing and drumming a little too enthusiastically. I looked at the altar to see six servers in their white robes spinning lengths of white and gold ribbon more or less in rhythm to the music. After the short concert, the servers led the processional, ribbons held in long trains above their heads. The children followed with vigil candles of their own, soft candlelight making shadows on soft faces. I cried.

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's a celebration, folks. Lighten up.

I've been perusing a lot of Christian blogs of late. The trend seems to be heading away from a secular Christmas. That's cool. Christmas can be (and is for me) a spiritual day. But somehow, a lot of these spiritual minded folks have sort of forgotten that it's a celebration. So go to church and do good deeds, but don't forget to heap a little joy on your own plate. Christ our Savior came to earth to be one of us and to save us. That is worth a party. That is worth a few over-the-top gifts. That is worth a bottle of wine, a feast or two, and a festive rendition of Joy to the World. My Christmas wish for everyone, Christian or not, is joy. Unadulterated, unfiltered, unreserved joy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sphere of Control

I was reading some very dry program documentation and I stumbled across the phrase "sphere of control." That's Sphere of Control. As in, I have the Sphere of Control and I shall rule the world! Bwa ha ha ha ha! I picture the Sphere of Control about softball size, constructed of blue and black swirling light. It hums a little. I really need to find this Sphere of Control. Lately, I feel very out of control. Obviously, I've misplaced my sphere.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Foiled Again

My husband is a notoriously difficult gift recipient. Well, he's not difficult exactly, but it's difficult to find a gift that really makes him happy. This year, I had a flash of brilliance. I found a concert that I just knew he would love. It was too expensive for me, so I gave the idea to my mother. She pounced on it with the pent-up enthusiasm that only ten years of gift frustration can bring. We snuck upstairs in the middle of a family party, my mother's credit card tucked safely in her bra. (Mom, obviously, has cloak and dagger fantasies. Who knew?) I navigated to the venue site, found the concert with a big "Tickets Available!" flag and chuckled with excitement as I hit the button to buy the tickets on the reserved section of the floor. I was greeted with one of those verification screens where you have to type in some funky letter/number combination. And while I do appreciate the effort to stop automated ticket agents, it would be better if I could actually read the numbers and letters. I was struggling to discern character #2. Was that a g or a 6? My mother shouted out "B!" without the benefit of her glasses. After several stabs made more difficult by Mom's half-blind interpretations of the gray on gray behind chain link, I finally got the combination correct only to discover that the section was sold out. Repeat for balcony reserve. Repeat for balcony reserve right or left. And we finally discovered that the only tickets available were for general admission, ie, the cattle pen where the underage kiddies are sent so the bouncers can ensure they aren't drinking. Damn. Foiled again. My mother is wrapping up an IOU for a concert of my husband's choice this year. Me? I'm still scrambling for an idea.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happiness is a boiled egg.

Spunkygirl didn't want her cheerios this morning. She just sat there on her throne, yelling at Buddyboy and me to "EAT!" while she stirred her cereal with the handle of her spoon. Good mothers don't let their children out of the house without breakfast, or so I've been told. I peeled a boiled egg, put it on a plate, and set it in front of the crabby child. "Egg! Egg! TWO egg!" She smiled so hard that her whole body shook.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Santa Baby

We went to the obligatory breakfast with Santa this past Saturday. My son was giddy with joy. He was so anxious to ask Santa for a skateboard* and helmet that he just could not wait his turn. As soon as the first child left Santa's lap, he burst out of his chair and practically attacked poor Santa with a rally cry of "SKAAAAAAAAAATEBOOOOOOOARD and helmet. " Luckily, Santa had a sense of humor. Santa ho ho ho'ed a bit until he was able to regain his composure and listen to the rest of the list. My daughter, on the other hand, was entranced by Santa only from a distance. She kept a 3' perimeter at all times and mostly succeeded in peeking at Santa from behind her brother. All morning long, I'd been vainly attempting to teach her ho ho ho. But she said nothing to Santa at all, beyond "no" and "sit" and "no sit." Until we got home, that is. Now, every time she sees a santa anywhere, she emits one deep, jolly "HO." Just one. Spunkygirl is not one to overstate the matter. * I'm distressed and undecided about the skateboard. Santa is welcome to bring the helmet. But a skateboard? For a five year old boy? My heart cannot take that kind of terror. My heart also cannot take the thought of his disappointment on Christmas morning should Santa not bring the skateboard. I cannot decide what to do and am vainly hoping that my husband takes the decision out of my hands.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Note to the world at large:

If someone wishes you a happy holidays, a merry christmas, a happy hannukah, a joyful solstice or any sort of anything that is clearly just a wish for YOU to be HAPPY on a cold winter's day then just be polite and say, "Thank you." It's just a happy wish for you - not an attempt to convert you to Christianity or convert you from Christianity or anything else. It's just one person being nice to another person. And there is nothing wrong with that. Peace to you all, A woman who will continue to wish people happiness regardless of scroogey replies

Friday, December 1, 2006


I left work a little early yesterday due to sleet. Understand, dear readers, that I am not afraid of a little weather. I fear not snow, nor wind, nor dark of night. But the thought of sitting in my Civic on the side of the road in a sleetstorm with Spunkygirl (who, you might remember, is nearly two) while I watch a mammoth extended cab pickup skid into me in super slo-mo, well that's something that strikes fear in the very core of my being. So, I left early. It took me 10 minutes to travel the 1 mile to Spunkygirl. In that time, I saw three, that's three, different bigass pickups fishtail as their drivers attempted to accelerate on ice. I packed Spunkygirl into the car, said a prayer, and off we went into the sleet. Well, off we went onto the side road where no one would let me merge into the left lane so that I could merge onto the highway and go off into the sleet. Because, you know, it would be somewhat sacriligious to allow the spunky woman and spunky child into the little black car to move into the line from the daycare parking lot where said spunky females obviously had no option but to merge into the line because the parking lot is where it is and the line is where it is and one is right smack dab in the middle of the other. People, regardless of spunk level, cannot generally change the physics of reality no matter how much the pissy man in the turquoise El Camino lays on his horn. I did manage to merge with the help of signals and much waving and a very kind older man in an Oldsmobile. And then the sleet hit the fan. It was sleeting so hard that ice was forming on my window as I was driving. I turned my defroster on as hot and high as it could go. This tactic did stop the ice buildup on my windshield. It also singed off the top layer of my face and dried my eyeballs so badly that I might not be able to cry for another ten or twelve years. I set a median speed of around 35 mph, figuring that if I was passing the fools traveling 10 mph on the interstate and being passed by the fools traveling 70 mph in treacherous sleet that my middle-of-the-road approach could not possible be foolish. And I was right because Spunkygirl and I arrived home safely. When I pulled her out of her seat, she told me, "Oh." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Advent of Advent

Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! I am being absolutely ridiculous about it. I should be stopped before I hurt someone. My radio is tuned to Christmas music. I find myself humming carols. My freezer will be filled with cookie dough in about 3 more days. And and and I'm going to make a tree skirt! And a flag that says "JOY TO YOU!" And an advent wreath! And patchwork stockings for the entire family! And handmade wrapping paper to enclose the handmade gifts that are under construction every night from the time I tuck my kids into bed until the time that my body screams for tea and television (in other words, from 8 - 9pm CST). If I continue down this path of merriment, I will likely find myself at the bottom of a wassail pot wearing reindeer antlers on or about Christmas Eve.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I have Thanksgiving on my mind. My son has been asking questions - hard questions, perceptive questions, five-year-old questions - that set my imagination spinning. We have been discussing religious freedom a lot because it's something that he can understand. "Pilgrims came here because they wanted to worship God in their own way. They were tired of being told exactly how to pray. So they left and made something new." And somehow, at this time in my life, I find myself in a spiritual renaissance. I don't know what happened anymore than I know what happened to set off my spiritual dark ages. Sometimes, I think the light just changes and suddenly what used to be sure and real becomes shadowy and uncertain. And you can look right at a thing and see its outline and see what it used to be, what it ought to be, what it still is and somehow wonder what it has become. And then the light changes again and whabam! It's the thing! It's so clear and you wonder why on earth you ever even wondered because it's right there for any fool to see. I remember many years ago during a particularly charismatic phase in my spiritual life, I took a walk with a friend. He told me in the kind/cruel manner of truly good friends that my faith was too much. He poked fun at me, "Thank you for the glorious leaves! Thank you for that glorious song!" I was all wrapped up in the glorious wondrous joyful JOY of it all. It must have been hilarious from the outside looking in. For that matter, it was fairly amusing from the inside looking out. I'm not so charismatic now, thank goodness. I no longer have the energy for all that unadulterated bliss. Instead, I am finding a happy certainty. I like it. I'm thankful for it. I am glad that we're heading into advent because I think this will be a fruitful season for me. For the first time in a long time, my faith is carrying me along instead of me lugging it on my back like a cross.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I apologize in advance for the schmaltz. Wait, no I don't. I warn in advance of the schmaltz. Having children has done this to me - they have turned me from a woman who throws away greeting cards moments after receipt into a weeping mess of schmaltz. And for that, I am both grateful and disturbed. A few weeks ago, I was driving in the car with my children. I told them that I loved them. Five minutes later, I did it again. And then again another three minutes after that. My son was annoyed. "Why do you keep saying that? I know you love me. You don't have to say it all the time." I laughed and told him that moms just do that, that we can't help ourselves. I've been letting that conversation percolate for a while now, wondering why I do feel compelled to tell my children that I love them so often - too often really. (Although perhaps too often is just a myth. Perhaps there is never a too often when it comes to this.) Is it really because I love them that much? I do, but I don't think that's it. I think it's a verbal talisman. I think that in the primal-fire-dancing region of my brain, I'm protecting them from ever feeling unloved or unwanted or uncherished or unalive. I'm making love into their totem, I suppose. And why not? We name our children after great people or give them names with great meaning: Victor, Faith, Christian, Ming, etc. That's as much magical thinking as my love chant, I suppose. So I just keep repeating myself in the hopes that on some bad night in the future, my children will know that I love them. And I hope that it will be enough.

My Solid Best

So there you have it. I am a wife, mother, friend, worker bee, human being and I am doing my solid best in all (or most) of those roles.