Friday, December 29, 2006

the year in review

As is usually the tradition, this year of 2006 started out with January and ended with December, with all the other months seeming to come in their places and right on time. Although the spring months are a little bit blurry on account of having a baby, so if your May came before April, let me know. It's been known to happen. But here you go, a brief run-down of the exciting, or not-so-exciting events at our house.

January- Child #2 seems to be getting over her alarming habit of pulling out her hair. I know you think your kids make you, as a parent, do this, but she literally did. It was a little tragic, as she was the child actually born with a lot of lovely blond fluff. But alas, she apparently felt the need to try and even out the score. With a newly bobbed head of hair she turned her attention to picking at her nails. They continue to this day to look awful. But as far as evidence of neurosis go, I will take biting one's nails over getting rid of one's hair a few strands at a time.

February-It's not as cold or as snowy as New York winters are predicted to be. We got one huge dump. And that actually may have been in January. Ben was deep into his second semester and I was starting to count the days to my delivery.

March- On the 29th baby boy, child #3, is born. I had no epidural. No pain relieving drugs of any kind. Just a faucet that started spewing dirt into my bathtub at the hospital. And so if anything else happened in March, they pale in comparison and will not be mentioned.

April- I don't remember. See March for explanation.

May- In a move applauded by the pediatrician and my midwives, I abandon my husband and two daughters for Mother's Day weekend and take the baby to Utah where he can meet his aunts, uncles, Grandpa, and get reaquainted with his Nana. It was a surprise and my mom screamed when I came up the stairs. Very worthwhile trip, aided by my allergy medication, since discarded because of it's overwhelming effectiveness, which kept the babe sleeping like a dream on both plane rides.

June- Hmmm. I am sure something happened in June.

July- My sister, Natalie, comes out to play nanny and do some babysitting with eastcoast rates to earn money for college for a few months. Also, after months of being a faithful DYM reader, and starting to explore the world of blogging, I decide to hop in and try it out. On July 13th, Bells on their Toes opened to critical acclaim, a Golden Globe nomination, and quickly became a finalist for the Pulitzer. Okay, not really, but that could have been fun.

August- Ben goes to Utah for three weeks for a job, so Natalie and I paint a large portion of the house. Pluto gets reassigned.

Back to a schedule: School starts again for Ben; child #1 starts pre-school. Pirates give me a chance to re-evaluate the condition of motherhood.

October- The baby rolls off the bed and breaks his leg, causing us to reflect on the perils of childhood and the, um, not-too-awesome health care system we get to participate in, being on student insurance.

November- Baby's cast is off and baby is off himself, to the races that is, figuring out crawling as soon as he possibily can and seems to catch right back up after his little detour to mobility. We are Thankful.

December- The weather is mild. Ben sprints to the finish-line writing hundreds of pages of stuff, which include his thesis (all done)! Hooray! The holiday cheer is in full-force, despite no snow, and Santa's elves send us a few little extras that make our day, and probably our year, thus making a tally of the year-end review unnecessary. We can unquivocally say, it's been a good year, Charlie Brown.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

and on to the next

Well, it's the day after Christmas, and back to normal life. The house is surprisingly clean from the festivities of yesterday. Meals were hodge-podge and kept minimal (thanks to a stealthy stomach bug that attacked Ben and me a day or two ago, and the chocolate that filled the Christmas stockings). And the toys, though they have yet to find a place of their very own, have made it upstairs to the play area, at least.

The gifts that were given were well received. Santa made it to our house fine. My oldest was worried I wouldn't get to bed in time for him to bring my presents. As she was safely in bed, her concern was no longer for herself. I got the dishes done in time, however, for Santa to deposit a new blender in front of my stocking. Thanks, Santa! I have been slowly killing my other one making fruit smoothies and it wasn't going to last much longer.

The girls wound themselves up, tired themselves out, and were a little sugar-rushed, so that the scripture reading in the evening to cap off the day was probably not as spirit-filled and meaningful and it could have been, but
it was a good, peaceful Christmas Day.

So now I'm thinking through some possible resolutions, deciding which cleaning and organization projects to tackle (I think the Mary Poppins closet could use some help- you may be able to guess what a versatile storage place it is by the name), deciding when the tree needs to come down (it's getting pretty dry) and am, all in all, in awe that this year is spinning its way out already.

Ben and baby are still asleep. Girls are upstairs playing, sort of quietly. I am going to sit beside the tree with the lights on, drink some wassail, and prepare for the new day.

Also, Happy Boxing Day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

an open letter to Santa

In his delightful book where he reflects on Santa Claus and being Santa Claus, Tom Plummer has wonderful letters to the Jolly Old Elf from various people. In this vein I share with you my letter to Santa Claus.

Dear Santa Claus,

Greetings from New York. My Christmas list this year in some ways is very short. Really, all things considered, there is not a lot that I absolutely need and those things I want are either a little frivolous, for this Christmas anyway, or sort of beyond the realm of possibility. I'm just thankful for the season, Santa.

This year we've tried to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas with our little girls (baby boy being too young to have any idea). And we've talked about why we give gifts, and thus why we get gifts. When your three year-old gets a little stary-eyed in the toy department thinking of all the toys she'd like to have, or when your five year-old has a fit because she wants to buy a plastic phone for her sister, but insists that this sister get the same exact phone for her, you get some good opportunites for explaining.

I've tried to teach my children that like those faithful Wise Men from so long ago who travelled to bestow wonderful things on the Christ child, we give gifts to one another. But more importantly I talk about the gift that He who was once a small babe in manger has given us. And as I have thought about what you, Santa Claus, mean -you have plenty of detractors and supporters, of course- the scripture in John came to mind "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I think that in some small way, and of course you will be uncomfortable with this, you represent our Father in Heaven.

There are no conditions in that verse as to who can receive the gift of the Savior. We like to think that Santa visits every house, regardless of geography and economic circumstance; that is part of your magic. And though as a grown-up I know that you can't visit every home and give every child a gift, I know that my Heavenly Father, whose spirit you spread over this Christmas season, can and does give everyone the best gift of all through his Son, Jesus Christ, if we will do our own small part.

We have some big changes on the horizon, Santa. You may be aware of them. They really are life changing events, and in a lot of ways, quite intimidating. But because I know that we do have a loving Father watching over us, I know that those things I can't put on my list to Santa Claus, can go on my list for my Heavenly Father. Quite frankly, there are some miracles that I am asking for. But whatever else he decides, he did already send his Son to earth, to be born in the most humble of circumstances. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and that son is the Son of God.

The weather is fairly warm, although a little wet this year, so you should have no serious problems getting here. I hope your journey is pleasant and that you get to as many houses as you possibly can. But where ever you visit, and whatever you can do, we both know that God is over all, and in the end everything will be good and right. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

master of ceremonies, celebrations, memories, and anything else generally required for a good time

So. I'm debating on a Christmas strategy for today. We have plans to go into the city and check out some of the festivites and decorations. New York City at Christmas time is supposed to be a fun place to be. Last year I got some strange looks from people when I replied negatively to having participated in these sight-seeing events. These people apparently had waited to schedule their appointment with the optometrist until the new year, because I was obviously pregnant, had two rather small children who probably wouldn't be able to go ice skating, and the weather was a little more wintery than it is today. I realize there are those NYC veterans who go anyway, but in my book pregnancy + icy weather + small children = bad combination, no matter how many twinkle lights you get to see. In other words, I have never been into the city at Christmastime.

Here's the rub. Everybody is a little bit tired and grumpy. We've had a few different holiday activites such as driving around to look at lights, eating peppermint ice cream together, and an attempted shopping trip for gifts which ended in complete meltdown. It's hard when you're under the age of say 5 -although I suspect there is really no age limit- to buy a present for your sibling without claiming it for yourself before it gets wrapped and placed under the tree. Some of these events have resulted in later-than-usual bedtimes and that is causing some problems.

Also to be taken care of is the customary trip to the store to get everything you're going to need for the big bash, only to be followed up by the customary second trip to the store to get everything you forgot to get the first time you went to the store for the big bash, and please, oh please, let there not be a third trip to the store because Christmas Eve is on a Sunday this year, so everything has to be done by Saturday at midnight.

I will confess to you that I am one who generally prefers to sit by the fire with my mug of hot cocoa beside me, Christmas music playing on the stereo, a good book or journal in my lap- you get the idea- rather than haul people out for an activity that may get us out of the house, but at great expense to our (my) levels of energy and Christmas cheer.

That said, the girls are really excited just to ride the train into New York. They love that. We won't last three blocks past Grand Central, so the outing won't be too long. Also, I have no fireplace, my hot cocoa mix is a little stale, and whatever.
My life is a constant balance between creating happy memories and preventing circuit overload. So should I ignore the absolute crazy screaming outburst my three year-old is having right now and say, hey! I think that this is going to be a fun experience! We'll see. Christmas come but once a year. And that argument can be used on both sides of the equation.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

every step I take

Blogger beta is after me! At every turn I'm getting little notes and hints and encouragements to sign in with my Google account. But I'm not to be fooled. I'ver read about those bugs. Hey, I like Google and all. I like my Gmail account, which I mostly use for transactions that could lead to spam and stuff. I like that I got $10 of when I used their special we-want-to-be-your-next-paypal when I bought some Christmas gifts online. But I'm not too jazzed about having my Google log-in my universal "Allysha is HERE!" card. And I'm just not ready to beta-up. So there, computer master-minds. Go away and come back next year, when I have time to think about you a little more.

So, do you think that Google is trying to take over the world? Sometimes I wonder.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

as the great philospher said

Have a holly, jolly Christmas!

It's the best time of the year.

I don't know if there'll be snow,

but have a cup of cheer!

Monday, December 18, 2006

way to go, mom

So yesterday at church a woman came up to me and commented on how impressed she was with my daughter's "scriptural knowledge". She had been in my daughter's class for a little while and apparently my little girl already knew most of whatever it was they were talking about.

I was about to pat myself on the back when the woman continued with this, "I told her 'Wow. You have great parents who teach you so much!'" and my daughter said "I just watch the movies."

Well. At least I bought the movies.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

sunday notes

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 16, 2006

maybe we've been away too long

I just got off the phone with my grandparents. Both have taken falls lately and broken and bruised various bones. When I asked my grandma how she was feeling she said philosophically "Well, when you get to be ninety, you have some days when something isn't working quite right. Just wait till you get to be ninety!" One thing my grandma will never loose is her sense of humor. I haven't seen my grandparents since May when I flew home for Mother's Day and it's been quite a bit longer since my girls have seen them. They live in Denver, which is easily driven to from Utah, but not from New York.

I don't expect my kids to have a particularly close relationship with their great-grandparents. The age gap is rather substantial, of course (I had one great-grandma that I knew pretty well, but that was all, and I saw her on a fairly regular basis) but I do want my kids to know about them, know who they are and have some connection with them. After I hung up the phone I told the girls that Grandma and Grandpa said thank you for the card they decorated and sent. My oldest asked a few questions and then said, "Do they speak English?"
"Yes." I answered. "What else would they speak?"
"So they live in America?"

Oh. Sometimes I think it's time to go home.

Friday, December 15, 2006

got electrocution?

We have a cute little snowman lamp that we pull out at Christmas time. My girls love it. They love lamps. Despite all my instructions to the contrary, they turn the lamp on and off by themselves all of the time. Well, last night the bulb apparently burned out. Sometimes it gets inadvertently unscrewed, but that didn't seem to fix it. I instructed my children to leave the lamp alone. We'd get a new bulb for it later.

This morning however, I hear a cry from my three-year old. And then she runs to the top of the stairs. "Mom, I got hurt!" she said.
"How did you get hurt?" I asked while going about my morning pick-up routine.
"Fire came out of the lamp and got me!" Not something on the top ten sentences you want to hear as a parent.

I ran upstairs to the scent of something smoldering, smelling as only burnt plastic can smell. Yummy.
My daughter was fine. Nothing had caught on fire. The lamp went promptly into the garbage. Too bad. It really was a cute lamp. But, you know, one just can't keep fire-spitting lamps around the house when there are small children around. Especially children who are good at lamp provocation.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm dreaming...

It's still evading me. Last week, the one week where it was freezing cold (or below), the one week we've had this December where Mother Nature could have very easily and very practically (no magic required) sprinkled on us a little bit of Christmas cheer, she chose not to. Instead she sent us the moisture this week when the temperatures have climbed back up to the, yes, 50's. I guess I should ask, is practicality really a specialty of Mother Nature? Not this year, I guess. Rain is forcasted for the 23rd. It's giving me a chance to spray paint my kitchen chairs, but I would rather have the white stuff. It makes everything look pretty and sends New York drivers into a panic. And that's all kind of fun. (And nobody bring up the arguement that letting me paint my chairs outside is in fact more practical. I'm talking White Christmas practical here, not home improvement practical.)

Please, pretty please, in the words of a well-known song, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! It may be, however, that this year the only snow I'm going to get will be in my dreams. And then probably again in May.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas is like a spaceship

That's what my daughter said with an exclamation and a swooosh when I told her the awaited celebration was less than two weeks away. Needs no explanation, right?

Feel free to add your own Christmas metaphore or simile.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm thinking FBI, or the IRS

Four year-olds. Daughters. Four year-old daughters. They talk. Their favorite way of framing a sentence is with a question mark at the end. For the last few months the conversations with my oldest consist mostly of questions. Questions like: "Does the drain keep working even when nobody is using it?" or questions where the suspected answer is embedded: "Why are you driving me to pre-school because it's too far to walk?" One day in frustration I asked her "Why are you asking me questions you already know the answer to?" She didn't answer that one. And besides, I know the answer. She just wants a dialogue with me. But I think I can turn this question propensity into a money maker.

Since her interogation skills are filled with nuance and knowledge already, I'm thinking that the government could really use her. I think her never ending style of rat-a-tat questioning would wear down anyone. I think law enforcement might find her helpful, but I'm going to approach the IRS first. I think she'll be very handy in conducting audits. "Why did you deduct this business expense last year and this year when it's the same thing because you wanted to cheat the rest of the American public?" Said so matter-o-factly with no pauses in the questioning, how could anyone trying to get away with anything do something other than dumbly nod their head yes and pull out the checkbook to write a long overdue check or hold out their hands to be handcuffed.

I'm telling you, I'm going to harness this power for good. And it's going to make me a lot of money. Which will go directly to a college savings account or something. I don't want to be questioned for embezzlement of my child's funds.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

sunday notes

No quote today, just a little story about how we are taken care of in small ways. Friday I was tired. Nothing too overwhelming, really. And it kind of goes without saying when you're the mom, especially of small ones, that you will be tired. For some inexplicable reason a few times that morning I was on the verge of tears (like when Ben offered to stay a bit longer so I could go to the store to buy milk. What?).

In any case, my daughter had preschool out in the far reaches of the universe that morning so I arranged to drop her off at another fellow preschooler's house who lives at about the half way mark and her mom would take them to school and bring them back and then I'd pick her up a little later. This was a small blessing in it's self, because then the baby could actually have his entire morning nap with out having to be put down late and awoken early, which I did earlier this week with not so desirable results.

I called around 12:30 to see if they were home so I could come and pick my daughter up, but the mom said they had just run off to play upstairs so I could leave her there to play for awhile. I called back a few hours later. The fun was still continueing and my daughter could stay for another hour or so.

It's a small thing really. But I needed a more quiet day that day. And my daughter needed to spend some time at a friends house, which she loves to do, but doesn't get to that often (which is probably my fault due to a gross lack of understanding regarding the play-date system that permeates NY).

A little before 3 p.m. I put my two (!) children in the car and we went to get my daughter. My three year-old fell asleep on the way. She slept through the visit to the gas station and the drive to Target, where she woke up not grumpy (an amazing feat for this child). We had a good time looking at Christmas decorations and picking up a few things. It was dark outside when we headed home so we took a detour, looked at a few Christmas lights, and listened to Barbara Streisand's version of Jingle Bells one million times. It was a lot of fun.

I won't tell you bedtime was perfect, and that I didn't yell at all (I was still tired, is my excuse I guess). But I was grateful for a few little things someone did unknowingly on my behalf, having no idea how much it had made my day easier and better.

Saturday, December 9, 2006


We received our Christmas package from my mother-in-law, Dana, yesterday. The girls were giddy with excitement. They couldn't wait to open it. I explained that we could open the box, but the presents would remain wrapped and would go under the tree. Okay fine, mom, here are the scissors, get going.

Being the wise woman she is, Dana put in a Christmas CD as well as a bag of m&m's which sort of placated the girls' desire to rip apart every and all packages. They asked "please please, please can we open one tonight?" and were disappointed when I said no. We are waiting for Christmas to open our presents (not such a novel idea...). Christmas is in just over two weeks, I said. We would be opening them soon enough.

But really. Two weeks to a kid, especially a kid waiting for Christmas, is an eternity. It lasts so long. Even Christmas Eve day drags on at a snails pace. The dinner and Christmas program may pass by fairly fast, but's bedtime. I think every child I know has a love/hate relationship with this night of the year. Christmas is peeking around the corner. You have to get to sleep so Santa can arrive, the only night of the year in which you are trying so diligently to do what your parents ask every single other night, and you just can't quite make it into dream land. This part of Christmas has actually never, ever left me. To this day, I have the hardest time falling asleep on Christmas Eve. It's crazy.

But back to the two weeks...I have a theory. Not one that would blow Einstein out of the water, for all I know it uses his methods in some microscopic way maybe if I'm lucky. Anyway it's this: For a child who has only lived 4 years, as opposed to my 30 or so years, the percentage of life taken up by two weeks is much bigger, so it technically takes longer for them to get to Christmas Day than it takes me. What do you think?

At any rate, I've put the presents under the tree, but sort of behind the tree as well. Kind of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing. And hopefully we'll all survive the light years that are these next two weeks until the coming of Christmas Morn!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

weather report

It's kind of amazing that these days we can turn on the computer, go to a website, type in our zip code and presto! the weather report for our town. It's easy, handy, not always right (what weather report ever has been), and I use it all the time. But I think it's time to bump technology up a notch.

I want a weather report for my kids. It would really help me out. I'd get up in the morning, type in their names and get a read-out something like this:

Fair to partly cloudy in the morning with a chance of whining, clearing up by the afternoon. Sunny smiles
with minor scattered squabbling until bedtime when a little poutiness will blow in, but an early bedtime with a story will take care of that!


Watch out today, folks! We have a possible storm brewing on the horizon due to a late bedtime last night and it doesn't look pretty. Take the necessary precautions and don't forget to put on your patience if you decide to undertake any project more difficult than say, getting dressed. Things may be aggravated by some sibling rivalry and jealousy, but could be averted if some kindly words, love, and cookies blow in ahead of the cold front.

See how useful this would be? Actually it would be handy to check anybody's mood, and I'm sure my kids would love a weather report for me as well. Heck, I'd be happy to have a weather report for myself (it could be a tricky day, with some hormones rolling in. Chocolate should remedy any urge to cry or scream...). So someone out there, more advanced than I, get to work. I'll let you try it out on my kids and we'll split the profits 50/50. Deal?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

seems suspect to me

I think the whole "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer" is a set-up. Someone was after her money. Or at least her Christmas presents. I hate to be the one to suggest it, but the evidence it there. Who in their right mind is going to send Grandma home alone to get her medication? Not just the book she was reading, but her medication? Especially when she'd had too much eggnog. Really. Any decent person would offer to run grab the pills themselves or at least drive her home. Foul-play? I'm afraid it just might be...

Monday, December 4, 2006

do I smell funny or something?

You can always tell when you're being avoided. You know, you get promises for them to come over, to call you sometime soon, that they'd really really love to talk again. But then- nothing. And if you happen to run into them briefly, they sort of look sideways, wave quickly, and become more deeply engaged in pondering the lemons they are picking out in the produce section of your grocery store.

Well, I'm being avoided. By the first dang snowfall of the season. It has said it's coming. We've been anticipating it all weekend. Even yesterday afternoon when I checked the weather report, instead of snow and rain, it just said snow! And I thought, ah, for sure winter is on it's way! And I was happy. But then, later that evening when I checked in, just to make sure I knew the time of arrival for my guest, just so I could have the scarves and gloves ready to go, the snow had vanished from the radar. It was gone! Leaving a only few whispy clouds in its wake. It's not even showing up on the 10 day forcast.

So, maybe there was a family emergency, or something came up at work and so the snow had to take a little detour to the North or something. I understand that things come up. But come on. It's December for crying' out loud. Anyway, I'm going to brush my teeth really well, and send a little message out; come on, snow! We're waiting for you. And if not, could you at least drop a line to let me know that it's you, and not me? Thank you. If you can't come and dump three or four inches around my house, then a little common courtesy is all I ask for.

Friday, December 1, 2006

welcome, december!

There is something nice about turning the page on your calendar. It's a little thing I look forward to at the end of every month. It's a change that is consistent. Going from November to December, however, is my very favorite. I can't believe we're in the last month of the year. Funny how fast things move, how quickly time flies.

We got our tree today. I've just strung up the white lights and Ben is now tinkering with the small section that isn't working. (I did test them before I plugged them in, and they worked then!) So hopefully we'll get those working. Oh wait. Now they're working. (Thanks, Ben.) So now onto the garland and the beads. Then we'll call the girls down from watching Blue's Clues. They were down here as we brought the tree in and were so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!! about getting all of the ornaments out that something or someone was going to die before we could actually put them on, so I sent them upstairs for a T.V. break. Whew!

It's not too cold, but it's very rainy and blustery. We're expecting a big wind storm (will it be a tormato storm? the girls ask. Hopefully not). So while there is no snow yet, it does feel a little wintery if you just look outside without actually going out.

Mannheim Steamroller, Amy Grant and Harry Connick, Jr. will play on the stereo. We'll have some peanut m&m's with some sprite, let the girls load on the ornaments in a 2 x 3 horizontal swath on the tree and then re-decorate when they go up to bed. Gotta love those traditions.