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Archives for December 2014
Lows and Highs
I wrote this post a week ago.
This day could not figure out what it wanted. For a while things were great. The sister missionaries from our church stopped by and chatted and shared this amazing Christmas video with me and Wanda. Incidentally, Wanda cursed them in her prayer tonight by praying that they’d “grow big and strong” and “have great travels.” So she wants them to grow fat and leave, basically. Sad.
We got some stuff done. Men were no longer excavating my crawlspace and hauling hundreds of pounds of rock through my entire house to lower through a tiny hole in my hall closet. That was yesterday.
It was cold but not freezing. There was snow on the ground but not the roads. This strange yellow orb was sending magical light rays down on us from the sky. I spent some fun time chatting with a friend today.
And then things sort of unraveled. There is just this sort of brain-slamming chaos that happens sometimes in the hour after everyone gets home from school. We need snacks and we need to share the stories from our day and everyone wants to hear about everyone else’s day while simultaneously telling about their own day and if we are five-years-old, we need to yell, “MOM! MOM! MOM!” into the wind every few minutes in hopes that anyone will pay attention to us ever.
If it’s a day like today, people lose their homework and procrastinate the rest and they ask you for some wood and a saw to make a quick catapult… for science. Eventually you decide you have to skip Cub Scouts because the homework is too big and too deep and too wide. And everyone cries. Because Cub Scouts is where the joy lives.
And through the tears and the mania and the MOM! MOM! MOM!-ing, you work to make dinner for your family and the family up the street whose mom is sick, only to get a text telling you that the dinner didn’t come soon enough so the whole family has already left for their evening activities and you KNEW you should have asked what time they needed dinner but you neglected to ask and you just want to dump the coconut chicken curry and naan bread out in the snow.
And then you realize that your problems are actually quite small and that you should be grateful that you have lovely children and you’re all in good health and your marriage is going strong and your careers are going well. You realize these things, but you don’t feel better. You just feel guilty because you shouldn’t be frustrated, but in that moment the day just really REALLY eats rocks.
That was my day today. And when Dan got home from work, I stood there in my un-earned stretchy pants. No yoga happened today, even though I was dressed up for it in case it somehow snuck up and attacked me from behind. And I unloaded on him about each and every straw that had contributed to my camel’s back injury. He listened. And then he left for his band rehearsal.
My internal Magic 8 Ball told me that its sources said no good would come of this night. But its sources were wrong.
Laylee, who had been madly reading her scriptures all night in an attempt to achieve a very aggressive, bribery-induced study goal emerged from her reading with a happy glow about her. And she made peace in our house.
She listened to Wanda while I worked with Magoo. Then I took Wanda up to bed and when I came down, Laylee was tenderly coaching Magoo through a written assignment. There is such a thing as coaching someone in a way that lets them know exactly how big of a moron they are with sighs and eye rolls and repeated reminders of your own personal brilliance in comparisson to their pitiful nine-year-old pea brain. This was not that. This was kind, gentle, encouraging study help, the kind of study help parenting dreams are made of.
For a second, I considered relieving her and taking over homework helper duty. Then I listened to them for a minute more and chose to sneak away and let the magic happen.
“That’s a great sentence, Buddy, but you already started one with that word in this paragraph. How could you say it a little differently? Perfect!”
When they had finished, Magoo proudly showed me the paper.
“I wrote this whole thing myself,” he beamed, “With a little help from Laylee.”
And she stood behind him grinning and giving me a thumbs up. Um? Angel choirs! If I could bottle that moment and uncork it next week when angel choirs are far far from my thoughts as I look at the way those two interact, I would shave my head in payment.
I apologized to the kids because, oh, yeah, I forgot to mention earlier, I had snapped at and yelled at and snapped at them again earlier in the night.
Laylee, still bearing a halo, smiled and said, “Of course you did. Anyone would. Your day was really stressful, mom.” WHA?
I asked Laylee if she thought her time reading the scriptures had made a difference in how she treated everyone tonight and her eyes got really big with understanding. “Yeah… I really think it did!”
Deal. Sealed. I love watching my kids choose things that make them happy.
And to think, only a few hours earlier my scalp had been going numb at the thought of all we had to do and the frustration, stress and chaos of my home. Parenting is a bipolar realm.
Wanda moves at her own speed, to the beat of her own crazy drum. Her awesomeness will not be rushed and she very sweetly and joyfully goes about doing what she does. Last night what she does did not include going to bed ever. She would come down and get a drink and come down and ask us to unclasp her unicorn helmet, an hour and a half after she’d been sent to bed. That’s the problem, really, the sending.
We’ve been doing a lot better lately making bedtime a social experience, taking her up, reading to her, tucking her in, singing songs, and snuggling. Last night we fell back into the lazy, “Go to bed” mode and she did not, in fact, go. Well, she went upstairs. And she growled. And she giggled. And she kept her brother awake. And she did some feat of bravery, requiring a unicorn helmet.
And then she came downstairs when she couldn’t take it off. What amazes me is the way she so calmly and sweetly approaches us at 9:00 at night, as though of course she needs help with her unicorn helmet deep into the sleeping hour.
“Hey. Can you please help me get this off?” She beams.
Dan helps and sternly reminds her to get the heck in bed and stay in bed… also the heck.
“Okay,” she says unconvincingly. Then she bops out of the room, the unicorn helmet unclasped but still resting on her head. I wait for the sound of the stairs creaking. Nothing. I peek my head around the corner. She’s walking slowly across the dark living room in her unicorn helmet and Snow White dress, weaving back and forth with her arms arching and curving around her body in a slow motion interpretive dance. She is silent and happy and in no hurry at all.
I just stand and watch, fixing the image in my mind. I love that tiny person more than my own life.
And things stay quiet. I’m assuming she’s gone to sleep. And two hours later when I head up to bed, I find a love note on my pillow, a love note made on the stationary I keep in the cupboard in my room. Dan and I muse about when she must have made the note. Then we see it. A unicorn helmet sits at the foot of our bed.
I add this to my collection.
Christmas Gift Idea Smackdown
Raise your hand if you’ve been planning and shopping for Christmas presents for months. If you’re like me, you feel like you’re behind if you’re not done your shopping by December One. But it’s December One and I’m not done. I want to spend that month celebrating, not fighting over the last Queen Elsa’s demonic disembodied head hair salon. So we need to get moving.
Let’s help each other out. I’m gonna throw out some gift suggestions I’m excited about and then you show me yours in the comments section. If you’ve blogged gift ideas, include a link to your page. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. It’s just stuff I like and think you might like too. Also keep in mind that you can give pretty much everyone on your list a copy of my book and I won’t judge you for your lack of creativity.
Silicon Bibs – I had this style of bib in hard plastic for my kids and I loved that you could just scoop up the food from the pocket and shove it back in their mouths. These silicon versions should be more durable, less hazardous, and they are stinkin’ cute, yes?
Orbit labels by InchBug – I’ve given these as gifts countless times. You personalize the bands and they can be stretched around cups, sippy cups, bottles or sports bottles. For the second line of text, I now put my cell phone number. I have been called multiple times when we’ve abandoned the One True Sippy Cup at Target or track camp. Kids won’t love them, but their parents will!
Sophie Giraffe – Classic, Sweet, must have for a new baby.
Snap circuits – My kids have built alarms, fans, and light switches with these versatile, durable electronic toys. Hours of educational fun and with the simple instructions they can do it themselves at an earlier age than you’d think.
Break Your Own Geodes – We ordered this specific set from Amazon when my son turned 9 and became obsessed with crystals. Every rock had beautiful sparkly joy inside and it was really fun to discover.
Zoobs – If your kid likes legos, check these out. These are probably the coolest kids building toys I know of. Their creations can pivot on hinges and there are so many cool projects they can build.
Party Machine – So, I bought this for me. And for a wedding present once. But the kids LOVE it. I probably really bought it for them, right? The sound quality is good, but not amazing, and it can hook up to your phone or MP3 player over blutooth or with a patch cable. The lights are really fun and it’s turned our Saturday chores into a dance party.
For Old People Like Me
Fit Bit – I keep giving these as gifts. I’m not sure why. It’s like I just want other people to count their steps and sign up to be my friend on the fitbit app so they can pound me. I am only asking for trouble. It’s fun to keep track of my movement during the day and sleep at night and compete with my friends and family. I’ve used the One and the Flex and I prefer the One.
*Punk Wireless Speaker by Sol Republic – I’ve tried several wireless speakers and I loved this one. It’s rugged and has great sound for a device this small. Give the gift of kitchen dance parties.
Glass Water bottle – We love these bottles and have given them as gifts several times. There’s no better way to drink water than out of a glass container. It just tastes better and these are so cute.
Woot Shirts – There is a Woot shirt for everyone.
Experiences – Indoor Skydiving, Laser Tag, Memberships to your favorite Museum, or Waterpark, tickets to a sports event, concert, or other performance
Something You Were Going to Buy Anyway – Sometimes I think about what I’ll need to buy for the person in the coming months. Buying it for Christmas and wrapping it up eliminates the need to “come up with something” to give someone. For example, I may give my kids supplies for band or ballet or baseball. They’re excited to get something useful to them and it saves me time and money. Clothes items are great for this too.
*Sample provided to me by manufacturer.
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