Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in Review

I got this idea from Valerie. Here is my favorite blog posts (of mine) from each month of the past year.

Renewal ~ Jan.08

Confusion and Chaos ~ Feb.08

Cthullu Wears Diapers ~ March 08

We Have Kids! ~ April 08

Things I Can't Get Pictures of... ~ May 08

Dedicated to my Grammie ~ June 08

The Cat, The Kid and the Wardrobe ~ July 08

I'm Back, Baby ~ Aug. 08

School Time again... ~ Sept. 08

Six Months ~ Oct. 08

Willow Meets Sir Winston ~ Nov. 08

Growing Relationships ~ Dec. 08

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Show & Tell #22

I am a rabid reader, so I really enjoy getting books for the holidays (okay, I think all of these are for my birthday). Click on the images to learn more about them.

The first one is timely:





So far, this book definately has my sense of humor and gore.


Another book that I am starting to enjoy:




I have often found myself reading mainly non-fiction, so when I hear about a fiction book on NPR, I usually make a note of it--or more likely put it on my wishlist--where my Braces Bunch Secret Santa found it.


The last book I received hit more on my non-fiction list:






I also got to do some bargin shopping with a gift certificate for Amazon (I love to see how many books I can get on a gift certificate).

So, did you get any good books this holiday season?


Show and Tell

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All - Update with some Pics...

UPDATE:

Random Pictures:


Michael has a tie fighter now!



Enjoying her new toys...noticing that EVERYTHING seems to have to make noise (sheez).
Also, some of the pictures I took look like she is upset--she is not--she is just talking a lot while she is playing...






Playing Clone Wars light saber duels (and kicking mom and dad's butt)


Christmas Eve before we went out to the Japanese Steakhouse. I couldn't get a good photo in this dress, she was fascinated in eating the flower on it...and then later, during present opening---she had a breech--all over daddy. (she had a Christmas eve bath!)


---------------------------------------------






Santa is coming!! (This is a traditional ornament from when I was a girl...it starts at the top of the tree and as it gets closer to Christmas, the further down the tree it goes)

As I listen to JJ's CD (beautiful songs, beautiful voice), read the book Leah Secret Santa'd me (you looked at my wish list!!), I am reminded of my wonderful blog friends! How such a horrible situation (infertility) can bring together such wonderful people. I am especially thinking of Cibele, Kathy, Kate, Jen, Christy, and Serenity and all those others in the community who are celebrating 1st Christmases and 1st Hanukahs! Wishing you special memories --you deserve it!

Looking forward to seeing my son's eyes light up and my daughter's giggles. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chanukah/Hanukah

Traditionally, we try to make the first night of Hanukah special. We usually invite people over. We make potato latkes and roast or brisket. We play driedel. And we exchange presents. (Since we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukah, our tradition is to exchange Hanukah gifts on the first and last days of Hanukah).

In the beginning, we have started out this way and by the middle of Hanukah we have forgotten to light the menorah one night. Some years we have went to a local synagogue and participated in a Hanukah party—driedels made of marshmallows anyone? Some years (the real early ones), I read a book about Hanukah to our fur babies—chinchillas (now I read that book to Michael and Willow). But, I would say that in the last few years, with Michael firmly on board, we have maintained a fairly traditional 8-day celebration.

So, of course, it was time to get a little off course! The first night this year coincided with two major events. The first was my brother’s 2nd annual (hopefully traditional) family Christmas party. That was easy enough to integrate with. We brought Latkes on a nice Hanukah plate. The party was during the day, so we would still be able to go home and have a somewhat more muted ceremony that night. BUT--the second major event was another snowstorm. When we got home, our neighbor’s car was stuck in our shared driveway, we could not park our car anywhere, and we needed to get Willow home (as she was all fine and dandy until the last 15 mins of panic in the car when we got stuck in a restaurant driveway as we were turning around to pass our house AGAIN to see why our neighbor’s car was in our way). The kids and I trekked up the snow covered driveway while Husband parked the car (SOMEWHERE) and then helped our neighbors (and then shovel us out too). Meanwhile, Michael wondered aloud when we would light the menorah (and when would he get his present).

We spent the next hour thusly: Husband shoveling. I fed Willow solid foods with her Baby’s 1st Hanukah Bib on. Michael assembled a Star Wars Lego kit he got at the party. I did the dishes, got Willow in her pjs, made my husband tea. Michael and I cleared away the table for the festivities. Michael started decorating driedels and I put on a CD of Hanukah music, while amusing Willow with the wooden Hanukah playset.

Husband came in, warmed up with the tea. We lit the menorah, we had the gifts. We did not play driedel—it was too late.

Writing this made me realize that, except for my poor husband shoveling the snow, it was a pretty good first night.

The second night (last night), my husband had to go to a company function. Michael wanted to know when we were going to light the menorah. I established that at 8 p.m., if dad was not home, we would do it. And I videotaped my son saying the blessings over the menorah. (He wanted it videotaped for dad to see when he got home).

So—planned or not planned, hasseled or not hasseled, traditional or not quite traditional-- the holidays come. And memories are made nonetheless.

Happy Hanukah.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Show & Tell #21

I always like special ornaments, and these hand made ornaments are great additions to our tree. Thank you, Margo!

The newest addition, for the geekest tree! My husband loves this ornament!* Maybe next year another Star Trek insigna? Maybe Battlestar Galatica!


The other new ornament--for our newest addition.**



Very nice.




An ornament for me.



* Its a Klingon symbol. Very cool. :-)

** Willow approved. As with anything and everything else, she put it in her mouth!

Show and Tell

Friday, December 19, 2008

Older

In 5 days, I will be another year older. Guess what I saw in the car mirror the other day? Two white hairs...not gray (which, btw, I would be okay with) but white (I just hate white hair in general).

I never have had a problem getting older. I like to think that I will have no problem showing my age, etc. But, listening to Christmas songs, driving home last night, I actually had the first pang of...I am not sure what. It was a mixture of regret that my life is, in all likely hood, half over. I felt like I was in a movie theatre trying to say--"Hold on, could you go back a couple reels there?" Wow. I have been with my husband for over 15 years. Michael is almost 10 years old. Willow is almost 8 months old. Time flies by. I would never imagined that I would be almost 40 years old!

It was probably brought on by the fact that this time of year gets me all sentimental and gushy already. And I am missing people in my life. I am remembering them. Wishing there were here, remembering times they were. And some are gone for good. And those times are gone. They are the past. And time is moving forward. I wish sometimes I could press "PAUSE" and just remember EVERYTHING that is going on. That wonderful giggle Willow gave me last night when I was nuzzling her chest. When Michael told me he LOVED his new pajamas and wanted to wear them over and over--and how wonderfully cute and young and handsome he looked in those red pjs with Polar Bears on them. Husband playing with his new G1 like a kid.

But those are fleeting moments in life, that are gone almost as you blink. I think that is part of the reason why I blog and scrapbook. To pause those moments. To make sure I don't forget them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Meme

Okay, onto something more fun...(I have tons of time to worry about the unknown--let's stick with the here and now!)

Got this from Jen over at A Tale of Two Coins. Anyone can take this and post it on their blog.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, ineptly wrapped.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. Bought a nice one last year, its an umbrella type. Real easy to put up.
3. When do you put up the tree? Saturday after Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take the tree down? New Years Day
5. Do you like eggnog? Love love.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Racetrack
7. Hardest person to buy for? my mom
8. Easiest person to buy for? Michael (now Willow too). I always buy too many toys, etc. for him.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Nope--athiest.
10. Mail or e-mail Christmas Card? Mail
11. Worst Christmas gift you have ever received? Gloves.
12. Favorite Christmas movie? Its a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott one)
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? In August
14. Have you every recycled a Christmas present? yep
15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas? Pumpkin pie. My Grammie's fudge. Chocolate covered cherries.
16. Lights on the tree? yep
17. Favorite Christmas Song? A Christmas Wish
18. Traveling at Christmas or stay at home? Home
19. Can you name all of Santa's Reindeer? Yes. Rudolf, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Vixen.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither. Santa cap.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning? Christmas Eve. Christmas morning--Birthday Presents!
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The mall, which I avoid like the plague.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Snowmen, snow flakes.
24. Favorite ornament? Santa and his reindeer. This is from my childhood. Santa and his sleigh start at the top of the tree. During December, he slowly goes down the tree. Christmas Eve, he is at the bottom of the tree.
25. Favorite for Christmas Dinner? TURKEY!!
26. What do you want for Christmas this year? Smiles from both my kids.
27. Favorite holiday tradition? Oh, so many...I guess playing holiday music and going to see the decorations.
28.Favorite holiday drink? Nog!
29. Do you want a White Christmas even if you live some place you can not have one? yes
30. Do you hang Mistletoe? Nope

Monday, December 15, 2008

Time to be Strong Again...

Tough times are here and they are coming. Hence why I have been silent this weekend. Usually I post on Show & Tell. Lately I have been doing Perfect Moment Mondays. But I needed some time to digest some tough things this weekend.

My father works in the auto industry. He has already had a 5% pay cut in the summer—company hoping to stave off lay offs. This past week, 20 people got laid off at his job. He survived—but now in addition to the pay cut, he is down to working only 4 days a week. Not sure how long before he is laid off.

I can sympathize with him. More than I would like to, actually. My work place is a small company (10 employees—one being me). We are dependant on others (I guess you could say we are a service industry), and others are cutting back. So, there has been talk of cutting people’s salaries, in hopes of staving off lay offs. (Sound familiar?) I really am not sure if I will have a job next month…or the next month. I don’t even want to think about 6 months from now.

I have been at this job for almost 10 years. Its not brain surgery, but it contributes to the family and it utilizes some of my brainpower and organizational skills. With the extra daycare costs, it was just above the feasible mark for me to go back to work after maternity leave. I figured that was okay, as (1) daycare costs eventually go down as she grows and (2) I have wonderful flexibility at my job that I don’t want to lose. Which I may lose anyway. (Ugh)

So. Where does this put me? Where does it put my family? Just as I am unsure where my company is going, I am unsure how this will impact my family. I know financially we could be okay for a while—especially pulling the kids out of daycare. But if I have the kids out of daycare—how do I look for a job? And, more importantly, are there any jobs out there?

And there is the underlying fear that I have about being a stay-at-home mom. I worry about PPD. I worry about feeling too tied down. I worry about losing whatever identity I do have. I worry that I will resent my infant that I so desperately wanted. I fear that I will be too tired and worn down to be a good mother, wife, interviewee, job seeker.

My usual way to cope is to plan and organize. At this point, however, I cannot plan too much, as I cannot know when and how my job loss will occur. But I am sure that, unless some miracle happens, I will lose my job this coming year.

It’s interesting how life and your experiences in it helps you through your next hurdles. A few years ago, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought we would have a sibling for Michael. Let alone a beautiful little girl. A few years ago, I was finished. I was depressed, I was certain that there was no way I could go through fertility treatments. Not only was I afraid of the unknown, but also I was CERTAIN I would fail. So, I can get through this—I have gone through years of infertility. I went through hospital and doctors procedures I thought I would never have the courage to do. I am stronger than I thought I was and I will be strong enough to deal with whatever comes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Growing Relationships

A couple weeks ago, I went out during my lunch hour. I was relishing the few moments I had during the day for myself and only myself—I had a good book. Seated next to me was a mother and her daughter. Her daughter looked to be about 10 years old. After my first thoughts, (“Why is she not in school? Is there a school holiday that I did not know of [this happens sometimes!] and “Why did she come to a Thai restaurant—kind of sophisticated for a kid—hmmm, I should take Michael here.”) I started to casually listen to their conversation. It was pleasant and familiar. It was confidences between mother and daughter. I started to think about the type of relationship I want with my daughter. Will we go out during a work week and try out Thai food?

It got me thinking about how my relationship with Willow will be the same and different from my relationship with my son.

My relationship with my son is as complex as he is. As a toddler, he was at my side always. I took Wednesdays off every week (gladly gave up a raise to do it). We would do adventures, just him and me. The closeness I felt to him was the most wonderful feeling ever, and I hated to let those Wednesdays go when he went to school. With school came calls from the teachers, the principal, team meetings at school IEPs, medications, therapy. He is not the little tag-a-long toddler who would go along willingingly with whatever is happening. We have changed. I have become the homework and discipline monger. The reminder of chores, the person who asks whether his behavior was good today. I am the reminder to keep on task and focus. He has changed. He reads on his own, knows how to use the toaster and computer, he would rather go out with his friends than spend time with me. He is too smart for his own good. I am too tired sometimes to be patient enough with him. Our relationship over the years has been colored with my own problems of infertility and anxiety over his issues, sometimes worrying if I was coddling him or not coddling enough. But after the adjustment of the new normal with the baby, my son and I have become closer. It has become a more mature relationship. One of a older child on the cusp of teenage years. I read to him at night and he looks forward to it. Just when I think he doesn’t care what I think—he asks my opinion. Just when I think I don’t have the energy to help him—I do.

It is inevitable. My son is growing up and our relationship is maturing with it. Even though I know those old mommy and me times are gone, I would not give up the times to come with my son. I look forward to helping him get through high school. I look forward to helping him learn to drive. I look forward to many conversations on many subjects, some of which I will have no answers.

And I look forward to having those toddler tag-a-long times with Willow. I know now how precious and fleeting those moments when she will be only mine are. I hope that I have learned some of the pitfalls to avoid to keep our relationship from getting strained. I hope that I have learned to let go of things that mean little and hold onto things that mean a lot. Like sitting and talking at lunch.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Songs that are Memories

This is the song my husband would sing as a lullaby to my son. I cannot hear this song without thinking of my first born, sleeping in my husband's arms.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,oh
You were only waiting for this moment to arise, oh
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

-- Beatles



Between IVF/ICSI cycle 1 and cycle 2 was a dark time. We (probably foolishly) went to see "Knocked Up". This song stayed with us. We cannot hear this song without thinking of our daughter and how she was conceived.

Everything she sees
she says she wants.
Everything she wants
I see she gets.

That's my daughter in the water
everything she owns I bought her
Everything she owns.
That's my daughter in the water,
everything she knows I taught her.
Everything she knows.

Everything I say
she takes to heart.
Everything she takes
she takes apart.

That's my daughter in the water
every time she fell I caught her.
Every time she fell.
That's my daughter in the water,
I lost every time I fought her.
Find More lyrics at www.sweetslyrics.com
I lost every time.

Every time she blinks
she strikes somebody blind.
Everything she thinks
blows her tiny mind.
That's my daughter in the water,
who'd have ever thought her?
Who'd have ever thought?
That's my daughter in the water,
I lost everytime I fought her
Yea, I lost every time.

--Loudon Wainwright III


I remember the very nice episode of Futurama that I heard this song in. Listening to the lyrics, I think of both my children and of how the relationship between mother and child changes and grows.

When I see you alone,
I see what's in your mind.
You love me yes you do,
you don't need to tell me.
I know you love me most,
no one else take my place.
You need me, yes you do.
Forever, and ever.

When we kiss,
I see what's in your heart.
You love me yes you do,
you don't need to tell me.
I know you love me most,
no one else take my place.
You need me, you do.
Forever, and ever.

We are in love, baby love child
I take you so high, groovy love child
Give me a kiss, baby love child
Do it again

Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults

We are in bed at night,
I can see what you want.
You want me yes you do,
ai shitemasu. (*)
I know how you feel,
you have all of my heart.
I give you myself.
Forever and ever

We are in love, baby love child
I take you so high, groovy love child
Give me a kiss, baby love child
Do it again

Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults
Attention adults

--Pizzicato Five


Recently, I have gotten in touch with some old friends from my high school years. Everytime I see their updates on their lives, I think of this song.

Old friends,
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends.
A newspaper blown though the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends.

Old friends,
Winter companions,
The old men
Lost in their overcoats,
Waiting for the sunset.
The sounds of the city,
Sifting through trees,
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends.

Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Old friends,
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears -- Paul Simon


And, of course, during the holiday season, I think of these two songs:

The Christmas Wish

I don't know if you believe in Christmas
or if you have presents underneath a Christmas tree
but if you believe in love
that will be more than enough
for you to come and celebrate with me
for I have held the precious gift that love brings
even though I never saw a Christmas star
I know there is a light I have felt it burn inside
and I have seen it shining from afar

Christmas is the time to come together
a time to put all differences aside
and I reach out my hand to the family of man
to share the joy I feel at Christmas time

for the truth that binds us all together
I would like to say a simple prayer
that at this special time you will have true peace of mind
and love to last throughout the coming year

and if you believe in love
that will be more than enough
for peace to last throughout the coming year
and peace on earth will last throughout the year.

-- Dan Wheetman

The Christians and the Pagans Lyrics:
Amber called her uncle, said ’we’re up here for the holiday,
Jane and I were having solstice, now we need a place to stay.’
And her christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang mary on a tree,
He watched his song hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
He told his niece, ’its christmas eve, I know our life is not your style,’
She said, ’christmas is like solstice, and we miss you and it’s been awhile,’

So the christians and the pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
Till timmy turned to amber and said, ’is it try that you’re a wtich? ’
His mom jumped up and said, ’the pies are burning,’ and she hit the kitchen,
And it was jane who spoke, she said, ’its true, your cousins not a christian,’
’but we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
And you find magic from your god, and we find magic everywhere,’

So the christians and the pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And where does magic come from? I think magics in the learning,
Cause now when christians sit with pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

When amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, ’really, no, don’t bother.’
Ambers uncle saw how amber looked like tim and like her father.
He thought about his brother, how they hadnt spoken in a year,
He thought hed call him up and say, ’its christmas and your daughters here.’
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, so his own son tug his sleeve, saying,
’can I be a pagan? ’ dad said, ’well discuss it when they leave.’

So the christians and the pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold.

-- Dar Williams


I realize that there are so many more songs that mean so much to me. Hearing a Rogers and Hammerstein musical number will remind me of my Grammie. Or, better yet, anything from West Side Story. Hearing Carpenters reminds me of my dad. Hearing classical music reminds me of my dad. Hearing any ELO reminds me especially of my husband when we first met. There are so many times that music has been such an important part of my life. Many times that the lyrics felt as if they were meant for just me.

What songs bring special memories to you?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Perfect Moment Monday

This weekend, the kids and I are sick. I seem to have the stuffy stuffy nose that uses many many tissues. My son has the hacking cough that keeps going and going. (Willow seems to have the least amount of suffering, luckily...she just seems to have a runny nose and an occasional cough).

Moment 1: Saturday night, I just could not stand it any longer. I was not breathing through my nose, my husband was snoring. I went downstairs, went on the laptop and just hoped that my nose would finally drain. As I sat downstairs at 3 a.m.--my son came down. He was having similar non-sleep issues. We sat up, looked at a book, went on-line for a game or two and he found a caricature creator and made the whole family--including our turtle. We were up until 4 a.m. It was like a little secret social hour with my son.

Moment 2: Willow has started to say "da da" a lot. Often not necessarily to daddy, but to EVERY male she encounters. But, she only SMILES and says da da to one person and that is Daddy. And just as we think that maybe, just maybe she gets that da da means Daddy--she puts a stuffed giraffe in her mouth and says "da da!".


Friday, December 05, 2008

Show Me Your Tree - Show & Tell



I have decided to participate in SMYT from fellow Braces Buncher (un)complicate me (click on the link to join in the fun). This also doubles as my Show & Tell this week.

So, without further ado--here's our tree...



Can you spot Opus?



The prominent snowman at near the top--Michael's kindergarten picture.

We have so many ornaments, I just decided this year to go with a more understated look and did not put all of them on. I don't do tinsle, I have garlands of metal and plastic. My ornaments do have some type of theme, I love snowmen and musical stuff, snowflakes, cookie sheets of christmas stuff, and then the personal/sentimental ornaments. Its a fake umbrella tree-very easy to put up. We try to go understated in our decor, as we celebrate both Christmas and Hannukah, so we don't want to overstate one over the other.






This is my favorite ornament this year. A few years ago we did a personalized ornament for our family. This year, I bought a baby one personalized for Willow.



And we hung it next to that ornament.


And here is our family Menorah, looks much better when lit up with candles.


My ornament/decoration/toy I am proud to have acquired this year--a wooden Hannukah set.

It has a Menorah with candles (the flames insert into the candles), wooden gelt, a driedal, potato latkes, a skillet and spatula. Both Michael and Willow have already enjoyed playing with it--and it comes in a handy bag to store it in.




Show and Tell

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Contemplation on Reflections and Reflecting

This time of year I think everyone does a bit of reflecting. Even if you do not celebrate any of the holidays that surround you like oxygen, the end of the year approaches, and like a bookkeeper who goes through all the receipts for the fiscal year—every one tends to sort through the muddle of the past year. Sometimes searching for meaning. Sometimes searching for something lost. Sometimes searching for that damn book you bought at the beginning of summer, that you meant to read at the beach, but then the weather was not that great this year and you were too busy with a newborn and you just never got around to reading it, and then you just thought of it and would like to read it now…

I have lots of reminders that the past is receding further, the present is fleeting and the future is coming soon. I have my son who is going to be 10 (TEN!!) years old soon. I have the holidays of Christmas and Hannukah AND my birthday. The ultimate in Time Flies Technology (TFT)— soon to be 8 month old daughter.

I have never been bothered by my age (so far). I do not worry about aging, although as I have gotten older I do worry about being healthy and happy. So, while my birthday is a marker of time, it does not bother me—in fact, with children around, my birthday is merely an excuse to go to that wonderful Japanese steakhouse and have early x-mas presents. Oh, and cake (Can’t forget the cake!)

I think it’s the traditions of the holidays that causes me to be much more reflective. To remember other times that these traditions were done. Some traditions we have are carried over from our parents. Some are traditions we made as we were a young couple, fresh out of college, on our own 800 miles away from our families. And some are traditions we have made with our children (oh, that still feels so good to say “children”).

Some traditions we have are small. Some are big. Some are purely ours. Some are traditions that we merged with others. And some are ones that everyone does. Some are traditions that no one else does.

I remember people I shared those traditions with. Some are not with us anymore. Each year we make my Grammie’s fudge—since she is gone, it is in remembrance of her. Another newer tradition since she has gone--I donate each year to Heifer International in her honor. I remember our family holiday parties—my uncle made a game of Christmas Bingo (his children drew the pictures on the cards). We mixed that in with what I have come to find out is a Yankee Swap. Now, my brother has transplanted that tradition of the party and the bingo game to Massachusetts…I can imagine that at some point this tradition will become a fixture with our families out here.

I remember my aunt and uncle who were very religious and who always sent me very religious cards and gifts—sometimes to my chagrin. I remember that my aunt was a teacher and that she often crafted her gifts in advance. When she died, she left presents for that year, with instructions of who got what.

Sometimes these memories are so random that I can remember things form recent times and then remember something from so long ago. Remembering going on Holiday Trolley rides in Boston, and the light displays on Boston Common, I can then remember going to Bronson Park when I was a kid.

So, I guess my point of this post was to say, however you celebrate the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new…let the memories and reflections wash over you. It is so hard during the normal hassles of daily life to remember those things that are so important to you.

And, if you find my book, let me know.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

BB Book Tour - Harriet the Spy

It’s time once again for another blog book tour.

This time the book was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.

I had not read this book as a child, but I had seen the movie, being the Buffy-file that I am. I thought the movie was nice and I was curious about the book. I found the book an interesting read, but I was put off a bit by the social and class situations presented in this book, which was written and set in the 1960s. But I did find this fascinating profile of Harriet on NPR that actually gave me more insight into the book. Now, onto the questions:

Harriet's parents almost entirely delegate all parenting tasks to Ole Golly or Cook. Did you have any particular reaction to their uninvolved parenting style? Was your reaction influenced by your own infertility/journey toward parenthood?

I think the first thought in my head was “How perfectly selfish Harriet’s parents are…why did they even have her?” “Do they know anything about her?”

I took a step back and remembered that this was written in the 1960s and parenting philosophies were different. I still think that, especially in the beginning of the book, they showed very little interest in their child and I don’t think they represent the “norm” of that time. Her parents are represented as always going out, always too busy to really listen or see their child. While I think that sometimes as parents we can get too busy/harried by life and can sometimes not really listen to our children, I don't think that most parents today go out so often and so socially. Culturally it is different, and logistically (with babysitter expenses, etc.) is not likely.

I did appreciate that after Ole Golly left, they made some efforts to get to know Harriet. Before she left, they relied too much on others to parent their child, and it just irritated me. And I am sure that is partially because of infertility and partially because I am so hands-on as a parent, I just could not comprehend not spending time with them, not sharing my world and their world.

Despite the fact that I could not relate to their parenting style, I did find some way to relate to them. The way that they struggled to understand Harriet’s behavior reminded me of our struggles to understand our son. I was especially struck by the part when Harriet went to therapy. We take Michael to therapy for his ADHD, and the doctor (as I am sure most child therapists do) also plays games with him. And he often tries to decipher what the therapist is truly doing, just as Harriet does. It often is hard to actually understand what makes Michael tick--and it is a struggle that even the therapist has to deal with.

When you read it, do you read it as an adult reading a child's book or do you forget that you're grown-up and think of it in the part of your mind that is still 12?

I did not read this book as a child, but I think I would have liked it as a child more than I liked it as an adult. I was a very precocious tomboy girl and a lot of Harriet’s personality would have appealed to me as a 10-12 year old.

BUT, I read it as an adult reading a child’s book and I couldn’t shake that mindset. I have read (and often read to my son) children’s books from my past and I have had the feeling of being a child again. This book, however…not so much. I just couldn’t keep from thinking about how Harriet was being treated by the adults. I just kept wondering why Ole Golly was so damn cryptic, and cynically, I was thinking that in lots of ways, Golly is not helping Harriet at all. I kept thinking of all the parenting issues I had with Harriet’s parents. I started to think about how my son is becoming a teenager and what ways I will have to deal with that. All those thoughts crowded out the small portion of my brain that could relate to Harriet with my inner child. I found that I was thinking about infertility with the couple who got the big giant baby statue, I was thinking about immigration when she was spying on the grocer.

I think the only time I was able to actually remember my own childhood was with the cat man—I remembered our own neighborhood cat lady, and I started thinking about my neighborhood during my childhood and what places I spied from.

When Ole Golly leaves after her engagement, Harriet notes that things feel the same but she seems to have a little hole in her heart. When was the first time you remember feeling a similar loss and does it still remain with you today?

I think the first time I felt such a loss was when I was 7 years old. I had a best friend (a boy) who I had known almost all my short life. He lived down the street from me and our parents had no problem with us going off by ourselves to play (his parents both worked, and were not around that often). I remember that he had a wonderful play area in his basement (I think it was his basement—it seemed like a cave). When it was time to go to school, we walked to kindergarten together—first day photos are all I really have that are tangible of this boy. At the time, we imagined that we would know each other forever, that we would get married, even. And then—his family moved away. I was heart broken. We tried to keep in touch—he sent me cards that had Scooby Doo on them—but, it did not last and we never saw each other again. The loss of my best friend was profound, especially since I was an only child (my brother wasn’t born until I was almost 9 years old). BUT, this loss, which seemed so profound—I have barely thought of it in all these years. I barely remember what he looked like, his name (I think it was Leslie—or was it Bobby?). I know that through out my childhood the sting of that loss was never far from the surface…but I guess it healed over and other joys and losses have buried it.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens (http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/). You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm Loved...A meme



Thank you Serenity for this meme:

I answered these questions on Sunday night:

Where is your cell phone? Upstairs.
Where is your significant other? Couch
Your hair color? Auburn
Your mother? Indiana
Your father? Michigan
Your favorite thing? Humor
Your dream last night? Reality
Your goal? Loose (weight)
The room you’re in? Living room
Your hobby? Scrapbooking
Your fear? Alone
Where do you want to be in six years? Hmmm...
Where were you last night? Kitchen
What you’re not? Watching (t.v.)
One of your wish-list items? Books
Where you grew up? Michigan
The last thing you did? Cook
What are you wearing? Robe
Your TV? Ignored
Your pet? cat
Your computer? Being used.
Your mood? Annoyed
Missing someone? yes
Your car? driveway
Something you’re not wearing? socks
Favorite store? Think Geek
Your summer? Gone
Love someone? yes
Your favorite color? Blue
When is the last time you laughed? today
Last time you cried? this afternoon


Rules to this meme: tag seven bloggers that you love via the above button. Said blogger then must answer these questions with ONE word each only.

I tag (I hope people will visit) these wonderful people:

Valerie

Life is Good

Chris

Cibele

JJ

Kathy

Jen

Monday, December 01, 2008

Perfect Moment Monday

Of course this long weekend had a host of Perfect Moments. Time stood still this weekend and I saw things between the ticks and the tocks.

As we were putting up our decorations, Michael had an earnest discussion of the origins and histories of various ornaments/decorations. Having him remember things from previous years was such a wonderful experience, one that has only started happening in the last few years, as our son has grown to a maturity where memory and history intertwine. The Perfect Moment – Michael, with Santa Hat that he has claimed as his own since last year, totally involved in putting together the Christmas Tree countdown to X-Mas. Putting the little wooden slats into the wooden tree, he looked so determined and so sure of himself and his place in the world.

Willow’s Perfect Moment was more in the line of her gaining knowledge of herself and how things work. She found out that she could curl her bottom lip under her top lip, and make a sucking, slurping noise. She had fun doing that, and was entranced when I could “pop” my lips in almost the same way. At one point, she was in her father’s arms and was slurping her lip—looking around, waiting for the reply. Then, I “popped” my lips—and she turned right towards me with a laugh and a giggle.

(an “imperfect” moment for our cat—the first tail pull from Willow—caught on video!)


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Show & Tell #19

Today was our traditional day for decorating the house for the holidays. We always have done it the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this is a tradition carried over from my family. This year, it took a lot longer than others. Mainly because we had to do a little at a time and then stop and spend time with Willow. Also, Michael had to go to the town's tree lighting ceremony because his Cub Scout Pack was singing during the ceremony (also selling NE Clam Chowder). So, a simple 2-3 hour process of putting up the fake tree and decorations took the whole day. But, it is (almost) done.

We celebrate both Christmas and Hannukah, so we have decorations for both. It was amazing to watch Michael. He knew what we traditionally do, he found lost treasures packed away, he helped decorate. How much he has grown and changed.

Where has my little boy from 2001 gone?




Nothing like the holidays to remind one of the time gone by.

Show and Tell

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 - Updated with Pictures

As this is often a time to reflect, I decided to see my post from Thanksgiving Last Year.

And then I saw this one from exactly one year ago.

I am so thankful for what the past has done for me. For what the present brings in its joys both big and small.

In these times when everything is so fragile, so worrisome...it is good to look at those snapshots of the past and remember what is the most important to you.

Last night, Michael brought home a hand turkey he made at school. He had written that he was thankful for his sister Willow and his cat Gabby. That meant the most to me than anything else he could have done.
(And, I got a sneak--he had written a note/card to a girl he is smitten with--saying "I am thankful for you being alive"). Okay, he is sooo getting a squishy hug!!

I have pjs and an outfit for Willow that says "Baby's 1st Thanksgiving" and I will post pictures later...I realize that last time I had a Baby's 1st Thanksgiving, I think I took it for granted. Who knew it would take almost 10 more years before I would have another!?!

For those who have their little ones for their first Thanksgiving--Have a memorable one! For those who are pregnant--enjoy that food! And for those still in the trenches--I wish you the hope of Thanksgivings to come.

And now, for something completely different...


Happy Thanksgiving!


UPDATE:

Waking up Thanksgiving Day...everyone does their thing...


Ready for her first Thanksgiving?




Our tradition of having pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving...with slight change for one of us...


Ready for Thanksgiving!






Monday, November 24, 2008

Seven Months

Took Willow to her Well-Visit check up today. She is 16 lbs., 26 inches. She is doing well, and the doctor was very pleased with her. Since the appointment was at the most inconvienent time, and it took 1 hour before we were even seen, and since she did get shots on all four limbs--I stayed home with her the rest of the day. Appropriate, as she turned 7 months old today. It was nice to spend some time--just me and her.



The giraffe is a baby present from Husband's work.


Comparing "hands"


Still dealing with a slight cold..



This is my favorite. After I picked Michael up (and he had his healthy snack), he had some chocolate ice cream.

Willow SO wanted some ice cream....

Perfect Moment Monday

Discovery - The Leaf


(After this picture, she tried to eat the leaf--perfect moments are fleeting...)

Usually, I try to mention both children on PMM...but today--its all Willow. Happy 7 months my little girl!



Saturday, November 22, 2008

Show & Tell #18

Once, 3 years ago, I spent a blizzardy weekend organizing my cabinet space in my kitchen. It was so wonderful to have everything organized.

However, as with everything in my family right now--we are learning to grow and adapt...so, we bought and had installed this pantry cabinet. (Still working on where the displaced items--like the phone--will go)





This weekend is being spent sorting through the kitchen and organizing the choas within.




I call this--the shelf of things that used to fall on me; the shelf of baby and cat food (please pick from the left for cat food); and the shelf of snacks that the boy can get instead of always asking me to get them while I am busy dealing with a squirming baby.

Show and Tell

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Willow meets Sir Winston

My Grammie loved stuffed animals and one of her favorites was a little stuffed dog she named Sir Winston (after Winston Churchill). I have Sir Winston near my bed, on my bedstand.

A couple of days ago, Willow met with Sir Winston.