Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best-laid Plans

Our New Year's Eve plans in years past have been simple. We first hit a party store for streamers, noisemakers, and silly hats. Then the whole family heads to the local market's frozen food aisles where each member of the household picks an item of their choice (nothing is off limits) to create a fairly disturbing end-of-year case of heartburn. We hang out drinking sparkly beverages out of tall glasses and watching t.v. or a movie. It's generally pretty low-key.
Last year we opted for an alternate plan: poker with candy for ante. (I always have a big ol' "Whoo-Hoo!" for candy.) Except we never made it to the party where the poker games were held because a certain 90 pound lab ate a pink bath fizzy then had a seizure. Ew. Needless to say, there was no way any humane soul could crate the oversized baby who looked like a rabid Barbie dog courtesy of the steady pink foam dripping from his muzzle--- not to mention the falling on the floor and twitching.
Should the assorted critters avoid falling ill, we are going to attempt to attend poker night for at least a portion of the evening. The mister and I are not big fans of driving on the same roads with geniuses who think their reflexes are "just fine" after knocking back a few celebratory beverages. So we will likely head for home before the clock strikes twelve, but maybe not. It's a hang loose sort of an evening as we look toward the coming of the New Year with anticipation.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sock Monkeys and the Pottery Fairy

Sure enough. We did find the Christmas jammies were not all gone from Target. And there was something even better than pink Christmas kittens. Or even gingerbread sock monkeys. There were--- oh, be still my heart, Santa Sock Monkeys with strings of lights, presents, Christmas trees, stockings, and candy canes strewn about a bubble gum pink background. Kitschy. And absolutely laughter inducing.

And. The something that gives me a bigger jolly than sock monkeys is Polish pottery. A week or so ago, the FedEx guy dropped off a box with lovely pottery tucked inside. "Whoo-Hoo!", says I. But yesterday something even better happened. While I was sleeping off the yuck-fest of a post-infusion hangover, the Pottery Fairy dropped by and left a lovely bowl. and. a. free. donut. coupon. Pottery Fairy, you rock! Thanks.

First Thing

Ooooh. I woke up this morning to the usual lovely scent of coffee wafting from the kitchen. And some ridiculously loud banging on the front door which set off crazy over-protective dog barking prior to 8:00 a.m. The banging would likely have inspired something of a less-than-pleasant greeting, except that the banger had something that made up for the banging.
The lovely new range and dishwasher (washer to be installed tomorrow) have arrived. The range is ready to go, and now the only real question is "Whatever should the inaugural use be?" Something mundane like a grilled cheese sandwich or a casserole seems wrong. There would be drama if I found myself cooking another big holiday meal like the ones that killed off the pretty's predecessor. There's not anything I feel like baking right now. So the range will just have to sit in it's spot looking lovely for a bit while I try to determine the answer to the Question of the Ages: "What's for dinner?"

Monday, December 29, 2008

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

They are mighty cute without the soundtrack of constant arguing.
Unless one is really intrigued by Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Mr.'s travel plans, how tired I am of the insurance carrier's stupidity, or my medical junk--- my conversation leaves much to be desired today. Instead I figure it's going to be a day or three of picture posts...
I think I am going to have to go back to Target for a grown-up pair of either the pink kitty p.j.s featured in today's photos or maybe the red sock monkey/ gingerbread house ones because I would have a laugh just looking at them. They are bound to be on super clearance if there are any left. One can only imagine the ha-has to be had in actually wearing such things.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Running Time

Whoo-Hoo!!! There is already a bonus involved in switching infusions. The new medication will only require about 2/3 of the volume that the previous IVIG involved. It can also be infused (run through the I.V.) at a higher rate of speed if tolerated. Infusion times could be cut to a mere two or two and a half hours. And the hour with the nurse hanging out preparing the medication for administration (because the new one comes in a liquid form that will not have to be rehydrated) will not be necessary any longer. Welcome news all around.
We will start the thing tomorrow morning at 7:00. And if all goes well, it will be done around 10:00--- the same time we usually manage to start the actual I.V. with nurses arriving at 8:30! It's a good night to let the kids stay up late so they can miss out on most of the procedure, and they might just sleep through the majority. I wonder if this medication might not have as many side effects... and if maybe it will be less expensive? Here's to hoping!

Wide Open Spaces

In three weeks something crazy will happen. There will be three days when there is no one in the house except me and the furry friends during the day. This happened in August, 2000 (or maybe it was 2001?) while the kids were at my parents and Don was in Lubbock to play with his old band... That was the last time I was alone. Don will not be here, and the kids will all be in school. There is potential for over six hours per day on a three-day stretch that would be solely my own. (Except the kids may be out of school for one of those days now that I think about it...)Practically unprecedented.
Even when away, I am accompanied by the other members of this household. The phone keeps me accessible. When I am away from the assorted people here, I have usually promised to meet other people somewhere else. In between, I am probably that fool on the phone in the Mom-mobile. The up side is that I genuinely do not comprehend true loneliness. Yet, the lack of privacy is sometimes keenly felt.
Turning off the phone would likely lead to a mama hunt. The family would crater. Autism speaks, and it is a bit obsessive about the phone and my whereabouts. Tween girls need to tell their latest drama to their mothers quickly before there is escalation to full-scale trauma. We need something from the store, someone has an asinine question, or there is something no one but me actually can answer, etc. It's good to be needed, but occasionally it would be nice to be a little less hunted, mmm--- make that sought-after.
No clue what I'll do, or if I will just be a little weirded out from not being wanted for a little bit. It is most likely to be time that is somewhat solitary. Because solitude is not loneliness, but simply an opportunity to finally Be Still.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lost Weekend

Whew. Today, I finally did exactly what this body has been needing to do for weeks: stayed in bed. Bumping infusions is apparently a dumb thing to do, but the idea of being ill with post-infusion side effects over Christmas held no appeal. The tired of last week is now utter exhaustion, but with 2008 tucked safely amongst the ghosts of Christmas past rest is finally possible. It is a much-needed day of rest that finds this tired mama tucked up in bed reading Alison Weir's Eleanor of Aquitaine and the intriguing young adult series including Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras by Scott Westerfield. With the oven blitzed, we're gnoshing left-over bits from our Christmas feast and indulging in a bit of take-out to finish off the meals. Come to think of it, this sounds like an excellent opportunity for a weekend lost in other people's words and images so long as the house doesn't get wrecked before the nurse comes Monday. Then again, so what if it does?!

Friday, December 26, 2008

New Black Friday?!

Apparently retailers can no longer count on the promotions, mobs, and extended hours of the day after Thanksgiving to boost flagging sales from the proverbial "red" and into the "black". So instead of the "Day After Christmas" we have "The NEW Black Friday" as internet headlines dub today's post-holiday sales. And our household has done its part to boost the ailing economy today by dutifully spending at a local retailer this morning.
Except our sale shopping was not exactly planned. Yesterday's sudden death for the oven highlighted the slower downward spiral of the dishwasher. Neither appliance is all that old, but both were replaced this morning. Having done our comparison shopping over the past few months while contemplating the possibility of replacement in the dim future, and brushing up on price points by scouring the internet yesterday, we were prepared to make a decision today. We had not managed to fully settle on any one direction. There were choices to be locked in on regarding features. And the inevitable color consideration.
Our kitchen has almond appliances because I have a general prejudice against white (except for socks, t-shirts, and linens), if it can be avoided, and black tends to be super shiny and show fingerprints. Stainless might be given preference, but it causes too much of a contraction in the pocketbook to be appealing. Except that the sign in-store said the stainless range with the dual-size element option and giant 3-rack oven had no price difference between black and Clean Steel (all the pretty and most of the price of stainless typically, but not prone to dings, dents, or fingerprints). That's not the sort of thing we have come to expect when mooning over upgraded finishes. Sound too good to be true? It was, but because the sign was wrong, we were given the price by an unhappy store manager.
I'm still a little nauseous over making a major purchase today, but it will give our somewhat antiquated, er, Retro kitchen a much more modern look when the new range and it's accompanying dishwasher (might as well get the most out of the delivery fee that will be rebated...) arrive in their gleaming "Clean Steel" finishes to boost us into the 21st century.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

White Christmas

It is definitely a white Christmas here. Unfortunately, the white is not snow. A flurry of baking soda flew to put out the fire in the oven (the heating element was on fire). Sparks were shooting and flames were attempting to consume the roast beasts intended for our dinner. The flames were hot enough to burn through the heating element and the oven door is cracked, so it may be time for a whole new range rather than simply replacing the busted bits. Uh-oh. Or, precisely, oh but no.
We carried the food over to our friends' home where we are due for a shared dinner in about an hour. Their oven is now really full. The stuff for the stovetop, I will finish up here before going back over there. Fortunately, we had a certain amount of duplication between the cooking mamas. And we will have a really good story out of this year's Christmas dinner to tell in years to come.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Sunday I informed Don that Christmas celebrations were not feeling very special. He agreed, but the wise man actually knew why. Repetition is not special. I suspect that Don is on to something here. "Christmas" has been a long drawn-out affair that just won't come to an end. And we still have the actuality of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and some sort of visit with my brother and his wife to go. At least Christmas Eve and Day will be spent among friends adding a little variety to the stream of parental visits that saw last week out, the three day stretch of Christmas performances from band concert to Christmas Festival, and the holiday music selections practiced around here since late September. Not to mention the shopping (nightmarishly drawn out) and the baking (generally therapeutic)...
Last night, in an effort to snatch back some small measure of what could be a joyful season, Don suggested we go look at lights. Last year we walked all over surrounding neighborhoods. It was a ball, and we carried flashlights and sang Mommy's Christmas Medley (a blend of bits from every holiday song Mommy ever knew some words to...) while hiking about "ooh"ing and "aah"ing over all the pretty, sparkly lights. Except that we have a thirteen year old male in our household. In case you do not have one, they are generally a bit egocentric. Ours is also rude enough to announce that he finds looking at Christmas lights pointless. His father explained that the Boy's beloved video games were also pointless, but that they were entertaining... which was a point shared with Christmas lights.
So we went. And it was fine for the kids, including Mr. Grumpy. But it was not fun like it was in years past. Because it is Mommy's job to bring the fun, and Mommy was not in the mood for more Holiday Joy. Hello. Only Mommy can make "Mommy's Christmas Medley" work. (No one else is willing to sound that dumb by themselves until the others loosen up and join in...) Instead of walking, we drove in the car. And Mommy noticed that the lights seemed not-so-magical without the soundtrack of butchered Christmas lyrics and laughter. They were just electric strings of colored glowing glass wound around tree trunks, draped over shrubs, and tacked onto rooftops and doorways. And the memory of last year served to highlight the hollowness of this year.
Maybe tonight will see some of that vaunted Christmas magic revived? It could happen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nother Mother

Yesterday was a bit of a riot around here. Again. In a slightly demented, "Bloom where you are planted!", the unexpected can be fertilizer rather than the stench of having stepped in something. Sylvia's breakdown was an uh-oh of the blooming variety, and it brings to mind the years and years that she lovingly served our youngest child as a "nother mother".

Admittedly, there is also a maudlin twist in my knickers because infusion is due today, but has been postponed (with doctor's permission) to next week. (The postponement is to avoid the potential for yucky side effects over Christmas, and it will give us an extra week to coordinate new home health and insurance companies with job change.) The first infusions were nightmarish things taking eight hours to complete the administration of the I.V. and came with a host of side effects that lasted for a week or two. And during those years the two big kids would go away to school, or visit a friend if they were on break because the infusions were scary things for a child to have to see. For Erin, infusions were a little like Christmas thanks wholly to Sylvia.
Sylvia would coordinate her arrival with the infusion start time. Early on, she would have play days for Erin and Dylan. Once Dylan went off to school a year ahead of Erin, the play days continued, but they were all about Sylvia loving on Erin. Any emergency, surgery, or hospitalization would leave Erin happy and content with her Mrs. Sylvia--- sometimes even overnight. And Erin was a quirky child with sensory and speech issues. In the years when Erin's mommy could not lift her into the air to simulate flight or even just carry her around, Mrs. Sylvia could and did. It was not the same, but it was precious. Every seemingly small thing that Erin's mama could not give to her, came in the form of Mrs. Sylvia. The blessing here was not only for Erin.
The love given to Erin was just the sort of gift that embodies what we claim to celebrate at Christmas. How appropriate that Sylvia would have her sleigh crater in front of my home so that her elves could hang out here while the reindeer got juiced up over at the dealership days before the official celebration of the Big Event.

Monday, December 22, 2008


We have surprise visitors. We were actually talking about the likelihood of having some other surprise visitors when Sylvia (expectedly) stopped by to pick up yummy holiday breads baked for her family and hand-me-downs for a family in need. While Sylvia was here, I discovered to my horror that raw chicken juice had leaked all over the bottom shelf of the fridge. Ew. This required an immediate response with bleach because few things gross me out more than raw meat and anything associated with it. (The raw meat bleah was strong enough to fuel a vegetarian diet for a while; however, I happen to like the stuff cooked so that eventually had to be worked out.) We cleaned up the badness, and I gathered up the mountain o' hand-me-downs which were then loaded into Sylvia's car with the help of our collective seven kids.
I returned to my warm kitchen still thoroughly unhappy over the chicken juice incident. Fortunately, having delayed my breakfast, I was able to self-medicate with yummy breakfast casserole left over from yesterday's big buffet with the in-laws. Contemplating the banana bread with nuts in the oven, I lamented that Sylvia was not going to get any of that fresh batch after all. Just as the microwave signaled caramel french toast goodness was ready to eat, there was a knock at the door. Don said, "Sylvia's back." Heh?
Sylvia is having trouble with a lack of juice... she needs a new battery. Sylvia's kids and my kids are all hanging out here while Sylvia has the opportunity to do what the other mommies dream of today: being forced to simply stop for a moment. Sylvia is getting a new battery. Sylvia will also be getting some of that banana bread batch that was put together with her specifically in mind. (It's bonus #1.) And since it is almost lunch time, she and her kids will also have an invite to join us for the noon meal. (There's bonus #2.) I suspect she will be content with lunch, treats, and a battery that works as the family heads back out into the cold to resume the celebration of her eldest son's 14th birthday.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


After spending ten years at a telecom company, the mister plans to give his notice in the morning. Most of his previous team has moved on over those years as the feast of the late 90's became famine with the .com bubble blowing out early in the millenium. Himself one of the casualties who received the dreaded lay-off marching papers from his employer around 9/11, Don was brought back on board the same crippled behemoth by coworkers with a pre-approved requisition.
As further job cuts and pay freezes came over the years, many chose to jump from the oh-so-slowly sinking mother ship while others were told to walk the plank. Don stayed put because the mother ship still had the best and most comprehensive insurance coverage around, and our family has some fairly spectacular medical bills. The medical coverage is worth more than the actual pay checks. Except that has changed over the past two years as our opportunities to "cost-share" have increased to place a heavy yoke around the mister's neck.
The first interview with the new company arrived back in the Spring, and eventually there were two candidates left on the field. Don's then group leader from the telecom company was chosen for the position, but noise was made about the decision being difficult and the new company wanting Don's skill set. Whatever. Except they meant it.
As the economy spiralled in the weeks prior to Thanksgiving, Don was approached regarding his ongoing interest in a job change. Told to expect an offer as soon as there was approval from the highest levels, the waiting began. And no offer came as Thanksgiving came and went followed by the passing of days marked by Advent calendars everywhere. Last Friday, the offer came after expectation had generally curled up for a long winter's nap.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pod Person

My parents have been here and gone in the space of a day. They came to give gifts, enjoy a meal or two, and then headed out again to do the same at my brother and sister-in-law's place before heading back up on their mountain for Christmas Eve and Day at home. They chose to surprise the kids with crazy pie-in-the-sky sorts of gifts this year. The prize for funniest response to a gift goes to Erin.
Grandma and Grandad had an iPod Shuffle and a speaker/docking station wrapped and under the tree for the littlest missy. Unfortunately, the order was a bit off in the opening, and the speakers were opened first. Not a problem. The package opened to display a midget box that looked like a shuffle in the slot where a real one would go. Erin exclaimed with absolute delight, "A NANOPOD!!! I got a NANOPOD!!! Whoo-Hoo!!!" A few minutes later she opened the Shuffle meant to plug into the speakers. She could not believe the good fortune of having, not one, but two "nanopods". She was a little perplexed as it was explained (see photo on right) to her that one package held speakers and a dummy music player while the other box held the actual Shuffle. She clutched the blue Shuffle tightly as the silver one evaporated. All ended well and our girl is free to listen to all the High School Musical, Hannah Montana, and Third Day she wants without anyone else being required to join her.

That's my girl. On so many levels.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Polar Express

There's a dense fog severe weather advisory in effect. Not so great for my Mom and Dad who drove in from out of state yesterday night, but an awesome start to the day for Happy Suburban Elementary. The kiddies at Happy Suburban will ride on The Polar Express all day today. The kids came to school dressed in their pajamas. The day's plan consisted of hot cocoa served up as a treat while watching the animated film. The new classic Christmas book would be read, and each class period be filled with various thematic activities. How magical to travel through thick fog and a wintry chill in one's jammies, exit the Mom-mobiles, and then continue on with a special holiday adventure that lasts the whole day?
Who needs Calgon?! Polar Express, take me away! Since there is only one person around here in elementary school, we seized on the recent Ice Day to watch The Polar Express from home. Cocoa and chocolate bread were the treats du jour. While it wasn't the all-day extravaganza the kids will have at school, it was a warm reminder that the unexpected sometimes beats all expectation. A surprise day off the week before school lets out mid-year, snuggling into a warm home on a cold day, baking special treats for munching and giving away... what's not to love?!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Whoo-Hoo! Today the school called to say that we have a two-hour late start due to ice. It takes very little ice to make Texas roads unsafe because of all the drivers who think they can drive on ice. The ones that know they cannot tend to stay at home.
As soon as the vet's office opened, I called to reschedule Bad Bella and her canine cohorts from their 9:40 appointments because we would be in the midst of dropping off kiddies at the assorted middle and elementary schools. I finally gave in to the guy who seemed determined to fill the 11:40 slot today even while thinking that later in the week would be better, but when?! Assorted relatives come in and out from Thursday until next Tuesday. I wonder if any of them would enjoy an excursion to the vet? Like a field trip. Anywho.
Then the school called back. Guess what?! The darlings are out all day. So I called the vet back hoping we would not incur the wrath of the receptionist, er, a fee for a no-show and total lack of cooperation in rescheduling. The only available slot ths week is Friday morning at 10:20, and one set of grandparents will be on the way to Austin while the other will be not yet here. Mmmm. Okay, I'll take it. And I will rearrange a little bit more.
Time to call the doctor with whom a people appointment was scheduled at 10:30 Friday (in between the holiday preparations) to beg for a different appointment time. Except they are probably home with their kids who are out of school, too. The answering service opted to not give me a new appointment, but they did connect me to voice mail so I could leave a bright and cheery plea for a new slot. I was then able to get that appointment moved to the following Monday. I do hope it won't coincide with the Boy's appointment that day, and that my parents won't mind too terribly that it was the only way to squish everything in on the offices' availability.
The mister suggested that a people doctor appointment should have precedence over the vet visit. I goggled at his lack of understanding. A necessary explaination of my logic followed so he could decide that I had not quite lost the ability to reason. There is more flexibility to slip a half hour appointment for just me (in Pleasant Suburb) into the schedule than to fit in an hour-and-a-half appointment (in another Pleasant Suburb) for three totally uncooperative patients who will be rebelling by shedding all over the car or yowling for the forty minute roundtrip.

Still. I'm hung up on that big, ol' Whoo-Hoo moment of realization that the whole day is wide open with us all at home unexpectedly. Except for Erin who has a birthday party to attend this afternoon, and Don is still working since the path from the bedroom was pretty clear of ice. It's 25 degrees and liquid keeps falling from the sky. Imagine driving a herd of squealing girls to Build-a-Bear this afternoon on slick roads with inexperienced winter drivers. Another Mama will likely be making phone calls soon, too.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Apparently one ought not to resurface from the depths too quickly. Otherwise one gets the dreaded "bends". And so it was with me attempting to have my head above water this weekend after the craziness of the past weeks. No dice. Nuh-uh. Because the kids needed to be wrangled back into some semblance of order after spinning out of control along with our wack-o schedule. It is a "herding cats" kind of situation. The return to normalcy is beginning to work, but they didn't get to the current level of wild, wilder, and wildest overnight. So it will take time to reel them back in to normal. (Or at east what passes for normal around here.)
There is general rebellion and chaos because Evan needs super-structure and he has not had that at all. Erin has been a little too free and a lot too tired. Meanwhile, Katie is trying to have us prove that she is precious by being a pain. (It totally makes sense. She needs us to express that she is wonderful no matter how difficult she might actually be--- because she is a tween.)
The idea around here is that we build one another up. Because the second we exit these walls, there will be someone waiting to tear us down. (My father-in-law planted this seed after a fairly yucky scene many years ago. It has put down roots and flourished, but sometimes the idea can still hit a dry spell.) Home must be a haven. The safe place where one is loved, accountable, and understood. It's just a matter of taking the time to resurface slowly enough that we do it right.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The band concert, every other day rehearsal schedules, Christmas Festival, and my mother-in-law's shopping and wrapping are behind us. I went AWOL Friday with Shelley who is mercifully home for Christmas. We met for coffee and some much-needed silliness and laughter. Morning coffee ended up including lunch and ran right on into the afternoon. Glorious. While we were out, the pre-baked gingerbread houses took on a certain appeal as visions of laughing children a little high on sugar plums danced in my head.
The reality of the gingerbread house was slightly different, and probably indicates a need for at the least therapy, and perhaps even an intervention of some sort. As the house went together, the gingerbread man was sealed inside purposely with high-pitched mock gingerbread man squeals and pleas. Anywho. The house took a while to assemble, and perhaps next year the extra dollar will be spent on the pre-assembled model. Once it was completed, something was mentioned about waiting fifteen minutes for the royal icing to set. Sage words which were totally ignored.
Don snapped away taking pictures of the whole affair. The children tried to keep their squabbling to a minimum after two other incidents earlier in the day earned them all correction for "explaining" their actions and then arguing about whose "explanation" was accurate. At least, they tried. Right up until the gingerbread man saw a glimmer of hope. The roof of our gingerbread house was headed south at an alarming rate as the gumdrops and frosting rained down through the gap to reveal our prisoner.
At which point the kids started to argue. The gingerbread was confiscated and hauled off. The kids then argued about whose fault that was--- to the annoyance of their sainted parents. Until Mom remembered that saints are typically martyred. (Really now, no one likes a martyr.) Mom stomped off to the computer in general disgust with the whole failed attempt at a little "family fun". Evan went off to fume in his closet. Don headed back to talk to the Boy. Erin went from room to room assessing everyone else's states of mind. And peacemaker Katie made a beeline for the kitchen to salvage the gingerbread house (and in her mind: the evidence of family togetherness) with her pastry education gleaned from Food Network Challenges and Ace of Cakes episodes too numerous to count.
Ah, the holiday season is definitely upon us. Now if we can only recapture the fun instead of the dysfunction all might be Merry and Bright.

Friday, December 12, 2008


"So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your cares and worries to God, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

Ah. There it is. The words are striking, and I am thankful for the friend who shared them not knowing how they were needed. Care-worn and sick of being bombarded with worries which I would normally just put aside in relative confidence after addressing them, I am completely burnt out. Adrenaline can get a girl through a moment of uh-oh, but constant adrenaline to push, push, push and go, go, go just makes for weariness, irritability, and eventually anger. So walking or running, I try again to pass my cares and worries to the One with the ability to carry the burdens that bring me to my knees.

Almost There

Today's the day. The Christmas Festival that ate fourth quarter is upon us. Tonight and tomorrow night will see the thing come to its completion as the assorted performances run their course in multiple venues from "street performers" to musical extravaganzas. Middle child's band concert is now blissfully in the past taking Christmas Festival's over-extended rehearsal schedule with it. The hope was to crash on Sunday after all the hullabaloo is officially past. Except that Middle Child and The Boy are "on" this weekend for tech in children's ministry and nursery duty. At least the festival performers and their personal shopper and transporter are not the ones serving Sunday.
The Little One has become progressively wilder after rehearsals where I have divided attention while seeking to handle whatever fool thing her siblings are up to and somehow simultaneously being aware of what she is doing (using the sanctuary railing as a balance beam, missing her ballet rehearsal because she was nowhere to be found, and being late to get miked for "Imagine") at any given moment. I wonder if she will be able to rein it in for tonight? Then, tomorrow during the day and all of Sunday can be about bringing her back into some semblance of a rested, good-natured munchkin.
The Boy and Middle Sister will also be benefited by the end of this Christmas Craziness. Their Daddy will be back to full-time parenting instead of seeing the kids not at all, or only vaguely from his perch on the stage during their available time Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Their Mommy will be less overwhelmed because she will have a full-time husband again.
Two more days. Just two more days.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Hours

Eeeee. As in "Eke!" There was an error made in which someone decided to start tracking the number of hours going into purely holiday related activities vs. normal activities.

In the past 16 hours:
1.5 hours baking brownies & blondies for church bake sale
4.5 hours wrapping gifts
2 hours shopping, including driving
.5 hours pouring over holiday budget
4 hours half watching "ELF" twice on t.v. while doing other things
.25 hours considering preparing child's outfit for band concert
.5 hours returning child's outfit because it is ill-fitting for band concert tonight
.75 hours replacing ill-fitting band concert outfit

Hello. Is it just me or does this somehow account for 14 hours?! And there was comparatively little accomplished. Except that someone was (Drum roll, please.) multitasking. Even the down-time for Mama is squeezed in while "accomplishing something". It's an imperfect system, but at least down-time has been worked into the craziness before Mama has a teensy stroke. Oh, yeah.

2 hours of the gift-wrapping was spent at a friend's house talking and letting three-year-olds apply the tape to the packages because it was way more fun to tote the gifts and assorted wrapping stuff over there (and have a girly visit including much-needed coffee) than to do the task at home. A trip to pick up gift cards for grandparents to give the kids was tucked into the time slot spent waiting for Katie to finish at the orthodontist. Holiday budget, grandparent shopping accounting, and checking account tracking were all lumped together with a headache. Additional wrapping supplies were picked up while grocery shopping after the discovery that the boxes were not really much more expensive. The brownies and blondies baked while kids were getting ready for school. Laundry has run throughout all of the above, and a hot bath fit in around 1:00 a.m. with a new personal high score on my favorite time-sucking on-line game.

Whoo-Hoo! There may be hope yet for a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I'm looking for inspiration to write a brilliant, or at least passably appealing, recruiting message for volunteers to serve up a quick cup of coffee or hot tea along with a moment of conversation for a couple of hours one Sunday morning a month. The coffee shop in our church is looking to expand their volunteer staff, and I am hoping to be helpful in administrating the volunteer calendar for that expansion. I'm amused to be sending and receiving e-mail from an address including the tag "morethancoffee". Yep. Mmm-hmm. Because it is about more than coffee.
One favored former pastor used to say that giving someone a cup of coffee helped them to relax and feel more comfortable in an awkward or new situation. I started observing myself and sort of spying on others (in a surreptitious way of course--- otherwise it's called "gawking") to see if the coffee cup (or other beverage of choice) really did ease social anxiety. Sure enough, the most fidgety and uncomfortable social moments were repeatedly diffused by the seemingly humble cup of joe.
So. When we entered our new church home, what should I see? A whole coffee house just waiting for me. Well, it was not quite waiting for me, but I was drawn into it from day one. Only to discover that the coffee house has a global missions base and purpose. How cool. It is the very place I dreamed of as a mission field in Poland. Except that I do not have to build it. Or cross an ocean. And every weekend people already come. I can just show up.


Aside from the baking, cooking, shopping, driving, driving, driving, wrapping, decorating, and "voluntary" appearances at assorted functions I will know that the Holidays have ended by certain key events that will mark the passage. My countdown:
3 days to the Winter Band Concert
3 days to Christmas Festival Dress Rehearsals en mass
4 days to Day One of the Christmas Festival
5 days to Day Two of the Christmas Festival
7 days to my auntie's surgery
9 days to my daddy's new hearing aids being fitted
10 days to my parents' re-entry into the home state
11 days to elementary class parties and my in-laws' arrival
12 days to the start of Christmas Break
13 days to my in-laws' departure
15 days to my parents' departure
16 days to Christmas Eve
17 days to Christmas
21 days to the next infusion
24 days to starting afresh
I am thinking that a wee piece of chocolate should be behind each and every day of this countdown just like the kids find behind the little cardboard doors of the Advent Calendars that have become part of our traditions thanks to the precious German Mother of a friend who provided the first few calendars. Or maybe a Prozac to get me through the next 23 days and facilitate that fresh start!?

Friday, December 5, 2008


Why, one might ask, is Miss Holly up at 2:30? Because the other option was to lie in bed with the early 90's (or was that late 80's?) anthem about being "Down with OPP" (ahem... "Other People's Property"--- how quaint.) running through my head. While that tune is not really my thing, back in the day, MTV actually had music on it which expanded my horizons into distant lands I might not otherwise have bothered to visit. And that particular bit of stupidity was highly popular. Not that any level of popularity explains adequately why it wakes me in the middle of the night.
Except that in my own unique brand of mental gymnastics, the lyrics twisted to morph into "Down with OPC... Yeah, you know me!" OPC is "Other People's Children"--- and I do have the best time playing with them. It says to me that people are not terribly careful who they leave their lovies with that I keep ending up in possession of additional children beyond the three who call me "mawwwm". I'm so very, very glad because kids seem to naturally bring adventure to every situation. Yesterday's adventure involved five hilarious hide-and-seek playing champions and a pair of waffle-thieving doggies. Evan was phenomenal with the younger kids (as he often is), and he made it possible to love on the darlings despite the continuation of the post-IVIG headache that has followed me for the past week and a day. Later in the day, I managed a drive-by diaper change and crib retrieval of the FBG (Favorite Baby Girl in a twist on Roald Dahl's BFG or Big Friendly Giant) during a quick visit to drop off a little something for her Mama.
Don claims that we have an entire drive dedicated to photos of the FBG and her sisters. He's close, but the lense of my camera captures far more than my own and Ab's kiddies. Last night I observed something of a parade of middle-sized kids who have been left in my care at various points as many of them too to the stage in a Christmas Festival rehearsal. As I watched them, I flipped through mental images of hundreds and hundreds of photos I have logged of OPC. Not creepy stalkerazzi photos, but funny, honest photos of children being their precious, unique selves. And occasionally catching mommies or daddies in those sweetest of moments is the best sort of fun.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Stretched too thin. Which by definition will extend to make one thin-skinned. That is where I am at right now. That bubble that one just kept blowing into to see how big it would get? That's me. If things don't start to give soon I'll earn a lump of coal in my Christmas stocking for sure.
Maybe tomorrow I will be cheerier. Because some cheer would fill my over-extended, fragile bubble self with something much better than the current empty pressure extending relentlessly outward.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Love it...

Yes. That's it. Protesting the church indicates that there is actually something interesting going on there.


The mister and I ran off for breakfast/coffee yesterday a.m. after dropping the assorted children off at their schools. It's a good thing we did, too. School breaks are always a little challenging for us in our general codependency because we have three people who fail to see us so much as a couple as, well, their parents. (Nobody wants to really dwell on the idea of their parents as a couple, so this is not selfishness on the part of our offspring so much as trying-to-not-be-grossed-out. Very reasonable.) Katie has stated when talking about the emotional upheaval of a friend's family during a messy divorce (after the daddy started dating someone other than the mommy) that she doesn't worry about "that sort of thing" with us. That security is exactly what we want to give our kiddies even if they do think it creepy and weird that their parents act like they are still dating about half the time. Because we are still dating one another.
Except that Junior is out of school for the next two days. And he is, no-holds-barred, an in-your-face sort of guy. Thursday is date day, but if we attempt to keep our date tomorrow at lunch he will be calling or texting. Because he will be compelled to convey some assinine information or ask questions that could wait until later. So it is doubly good that we attempted a secondary date because we would likely have missed out on this week's date entirely. We will fit in some alone time by driving one another to some destinations like his Man Coffee this morning before the boy is actually out of bed to begin his rounds of phone tag. And tomorrow will bring the knowledge that the following day will see Evan off to school for what presumably will be a few hours. And two of the three kids have overnights scheduled for Friday night that just might enable a real night-time date. It could happen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ohbutno again

Well, we have prayed for Evan to be held accountable for his actions without much success until today. Last year he had a blow out after being given a detention that caused school administration to be hesitant to give him consequences according to his behavior. Which left him a bit too free to be himself. Until our middle school had a near total changing of the administrative guard this year.
This morning I sat in a meeting with Evan's special ed advocate preparing for our annual meeting with assorted school personnel to set the plan for the following year of Life with the Boy. As we talked about Evan's tendency toward avoidance and escape mechanisms, the door opened to reveal people there to inform us that my child's current location was unknown. He was not in class. He was in the library without a pass at one point, but he had since moved on to some new destination. They were looking for him. I called Don so he could join in the excitement.
When the boy was found we hear that he was avoiding Mrs. B's class because he decided to leave it early the day before, and he figured she would be mad. *sigh* So Advocate and I hang out while the principal gives the boy a two hour detention for Thursday. Then we walk the Boy back to Mrs. B's class.
Thirty minutes later the committee meets to discuss Evan. This group includes Mrs. B as the representative from the general education classroom teachers, the same principal who just gave the boy detention, a new special ed lead teacher, and three of us who have been working with Evan for years. Joy has been Evan's counselor since mid-elementary, and Patty's had Evan in her excellent care as a student for two and a half years. I have only been his mother for thirteen years, but I still have a voice. And it is both a resigned voice and a resolute one. I know my child, and I love him with all his idiosyncracies.
The meeting shuffles along for an hour and a half. We get everything settled nicely for Evan to handle daily life at school, testing, and answer behavioral questions like how to address episodes such as the one faced earlier in the morning. After the meeting, I stayed to talk with Patty and Joy. As I start to leave the building, the school receptionist asked that I remain to talk to the principal for a third time today. Because my son had been in a physical altercation with another student.
Joy came out to request that Evan be pulled out of class to meet with her. Instead she cooled her heels with me in the principal's waiting room. We talked with the principal, and were told that Evan bumped into a bully by accident. A kid who by all accounts is a hot head, and someone who pursues trouble. On a day when Evan had "trouble" written all over him already, and Evan is not one to submit to a bully anyway. So there were words exchanged. And someone was put in a headlock. And there was kicking. And my son has been suspended for the next three days.
I am holding onto the simple reality that he is being held accountable for his actions. And he is going to be spending these days doing chores and schoolwork. There is no t.v. or goofing off because he responded to provocation inappropriately. In a bit of irony, he was going to miss out on a writing assignment that required a partner for the topic of walking in someone else's shoes. Until I volunteered. That should be interesting.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Conflict of Interest

My brain is tired. It is all full of numbers. Numbers that overlap and trip one another up. Numbers that represent conflicting interests in the family's various talents. Numbers that have begun to take on the nightmare role of Walt Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh's "Heffelumps and Woozles". The date and time numbers are today's primary concern. The only date I cannot seem to reconcile is the band concert and big Christmas Extravaganza rehearsal.

In a way I have yet to understand our family will somehow all attend Middle Child's Winter Band Concert and a simultaneous full dress rehearsal for Christmas Festival. That should be interesting. Maybe the costumed shepherd child can just try to be unnoticed during the Beginner Band's rendition of "Ode to Joy"? The Mr. will be dressed all in black (like a ninja), moves silently (again like a ninja), and has the added benefit of being a bass player--- no one ever notices those (like a good ninja). So he will not detract from the great herd of middle school students killing Christmas one note at a time on stage as he and the little shepherd have to slip out to run for their rehearsals the second Katie's band is finished. Which will leave me sitting with the Boy (who is likely to be "bored" and who finds it incomprehensible that people in Canada can hear him when he "whispers") until the absolute first second we can politely collect our band student and escape.
I wonder if I can go to the band concert in costume. Then no one will know it is me with the loud boy, the escaping ninja and shepherd, and the irritable sixth grade horn player who feels slighted because her family has more than one commitment the night of her concert. It could work.