Sunday, December 28, 2008
Things that Work:
  • Portable DVD players and video games
  • Modeling clay
  • Fresh toys
  • Audio books (esp. good for traveling when out-numbered by your B.O.J.)
  • Crayons or other supplies (washable or invisible ink recommended); Don't forget the paper
  • Lots of snacks continuously and shamelessly flowing like wine
  • Wine itself or other intoxicant, if possible and not prohibited by law
  • Bribes (Remember to following appropriate conditions for bribery as outlined earlier.)
Things that Don't Work:
  • Telling them to "be quiet!"
  • Asking them to "take a nap!"
  • Less than one seat-degree of separation
  • Showing them where you are on the digital flight map (esp. true on a 14-hour flight)
  • Lego
  • Dancing in the aisles
  • Trips to the bathroom where the scary potty is
Hope this helps.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
This year we decided to celebrate Christmas a day early, on Christmas Eve, because the kids and I are taking a very long international flight back to the States on the 26th and I was hoping that the kids would rest better on Christmas Day in preparation for the trip. We even asked Santa as his "home visit" on Sunday if he would mind going out of his way to deliver early this year. (Extra cookies and Bailey's on-the- house! Oh, and carrots for our reindeer friends.)

Let's just say it seemed like a good idea.

In order to go with this plan, we ended up basically skipping Christmas Eve and, for the most part, it was a huge disaster. While the kids were excited as they would normally be on Christmas, we ended up so tired, frustrated, and generally unfulfilled that we decided just to have Christmas dinner where it belongs, on Christmas Day.

I didn't really realize how important having Christmas Eve was until I skipped it.

Not particularly ironically, like laboring for a child, there is natural progression from December 23rd to the 24th to the 25th to the 26th. We all know that the 23rd is business. The nesting/tying up lose ends time; the 25th is the arrival, the celebration; and, the 26th is the complete crash from all the excitment and peace is (somewhat) restored as life moves on. But the power of the 24th is underestimated. At least by me. Afterall, there's no baby without the birth, right?

By skipping the 24th, I realize I completely and utterly missed the blessed serenity of Christmas Eve. I'm not a classically religious person, so this really surprised me. There is truly a magical mystery to the waiting and the hopefulness of Christmas Eve. It is probably the one time of the year that I really find peace in church whereas I usually tend to find the "darkness" of church a bit overwhelming. I love wrapping presents and I like to wait to do it all on Christmas Eve. I love having family rituals at the end of the day of Christmas Eve. Overall, I love the sense of optimism that warms everyone on Christmas Eve.

And this year I missed it all. But I will not let the lesson go to waste. If anything, I think I just learned that I would rather spend a year in the serenity of Christmas Eve, than even 10 minutes of Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas! Joy to the World!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I just wanted to chime in on this because I'm getting pretty annoyed at all the marketing out there that talks about the 12 days of Christmas being BEFORE Christmas. I even unsubscribed to a newsletter that I get because I got daily e-mails numbered according to the 12 days of Christmas even though we're not there yet! For some reason, this really irritated me as it is a major mistake and if you are going to attempt to brainwash me, at least get the topical accuracy correct.

So for the record....

The Twelve Days of Christmas are the 12 days starting on December 26th, the first day of Christmas. In "early Christian tradition", the Christmas tree is put up immediately before the 12 days and is taken down at the end of 12 days.

January 6th is Epiphany, a season on the Christian church calendar that signifies the arrival of the Three Kings to witness Jesus' birth and the subsequent spreading of the "Good News".

Don't get me started!!!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Have you ever noticed that when your child is terribly ill, they are so nice? And when they are just getting better (not necessarily fully healthy), they are so mean? It's like the conscience, the essence of being, lies somewhere between healthy and ill. Too sick to be mean. Not well enough to be nice.
It's Pictures with Santa time again. I dread this particular Act of Commercial Christmas (even though I do enjoy many others.) Every year we have the "do we take the kids to see Santa?" discussion. Invariably, we decide that we should probably just go ahead and do it because if we don't, we have to worry that we've ruined our children's cultural experience of Christmas and denied them an important right of passage.

So we wipe the gunk from their faces, prep them for the experience, and dive in. We wait in line as we watch other children go kicking and screaming to Santa's lap all the while reassuring our children that Santa is really just as jolly as a bowl full of jelly.

And, finally, when we get there, we are pressed into paying for these odd photos capturing odd moments. Fear. Panic. Uncomfortable contact with a mysterious, mythical stranger (that, as parents, we would normally not approve of). Caught on film for an eternity and, in the digital age, distributed world-wide.

I don't know too many people who really enjoyed their trip to Santa's lap as a child and not many parents who can say their children didn't cry, at least when they were too little to hide their emotions. I'm definitely more a fan of the idea of Santa than the living breathing one at the photo op myself. Sometimes real magic is best not seen.

Now, excuse me while I go post our Santa photos on my website.
Monday, December 8, 2008
When I reflect back on my years of parenting, as I know I will, I think I will refer to them as my "Laundry Years". For some reason, it wasn't so bad with one child. I could handle it. When my daughter popped splendidly in to the world, everything changed. Not a day goes by that I don't have at least two loads of laundry to wash, dry, and fold. Ah, the memories give me chills.

For example, there was the time that I successfully wash, dried, and folded an entire week's worth of laundry in one day. And, then there was the time that I had to come dripping wet from the shower in to the living room just to find a clean, dried (but not yet folded) towel. What blissful times those were.

Other times, I will remember my daughter standing excitedly on a pile of warm, fresh-from-the-dryer laundry only to pee on the whole pile. (Yes, she took her diaper off.) Or the time when both my kids vomited so many in one 8-hour period that every single sheet, towel, blanket, and cloth diaper needed to be washed. It took me nearly three weeks to wash all them all. Then there was the time, recently, when I washed (or as he says, murdered) my husband's new cell phone. Good times. Good times.

No matter what events are happening in my life, laundry is predominant and undying. When will it end?
Sunday, December 7, 2008
1. Any non-washable drawing/art untensil (use Washable art supplies or Color Wonder markers instead)
2. Non-submersible electronics, such as telephones and cameras
3. Super glue
4. Electric hair clippers or razors (Either you'll think you can cut their hair or they will.)
5. Snow globes
6. Anything else you might care about
Saturday, December 6, 2008
1. Magic Eraser (You'd be surprise how simple your life becomes with one of these in your purse.)
2. Two pieces of long-lasting candy or lollipops (You need two in case one gets dropped on the ground.)
3. A clean pair of underwear (No explanation required.)
4. Shout wipes or similar
5. A juice box with straw ("I'm thirsty!!!!!!!")
6. Baby wipes (Duh!)
1. They know how to say "no". Pleasing is not a top priority so they always get to accomplish all the things on their lists: drawing on the walls, playing in the dirt, running around screaming, etc.
2. They know what they like. (Even if it changes from second to second.)
3. They know when to act like they love you. (Call it self-preservation if you must, but it is effective and pretty darn cute, too.)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Today the Ambassadors of Son and Daugher met for a conference concerning the virtues of sharing. The goal was to come to an agreement on whose is toy is whose in the hopes of reconcilliation on the issue for a future treaty. Unfortunately, initial talks broke down when Ambassador Son reclaimed some territory that he said was his and Ambassador Daughter demonstrated her disappointment by launching a full scale attack. Peace talks could not be re-established, but after hours of deliberation both parties agreed to reconvene in 18 years to see if there was any change in the current policy.

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