Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Christmas Present

Let me start this by saying that some of you probably won't understand this at all, and will just tell me to "get over it already". Some of you will secretly feel my pain. I mentioned emphatically to my husband that the only thing I want for Christmas is a decluttered house. That's it. Then I can spend more time doing things with the kids, writing, and more time working out to lose weight. More time living instead of looking for stuff. James is now on vacation (mostly, he only worked about 1 hour today with calls and emails) so we started decluttering and cleaning the house today. I'm not posting any "before" shots, because it's pretty embarrassing. He and I have never been good at having places for things or getting rid of stuff--"Wait Honey! I think that's the piece to that thing that broke that I think I threw away but might have kept"-- we've been drowning in junk.

I hate it. If you've ever seen the movie "Joe Versus the Volcano" you'll remember where Joe was telling off his boss and he went on about the florescent lighting. He looked up at them and grouches about them sucking the life out of him, saying"Suck! Suck! Suck!" while his eyes get closer to the lights. That's how I feel about this extra stuff everywhere. It sucks the life out of me. I've struggled against it for so long, but never can seem to get on top of it. I am, contrary to my clothes would suggest, only one person. I can only do so much before I leave an area to go do something exciting like, say, cooking dinner, and by the time I get back it looks like a tornado went through my formerly shiny, clear floor area. Most of the time a human tornado has gone through, consisting of my three kids. They have an uncanny ability to find a clean floorspace and feel the need to make it match the rest of the house. It's not their fault, it's ours because if there's less stuff around, there's less to take out and throw, cleanup is more manageable for everyone and kids don't get frustrated not knowing where to put something. Heck, I get frustrated not knowing where to put things!

We started with our room today. You know what I found under my bed? Various sundry toys and stuff that were building their own city. Apparently they got to the point they decided they needed food, because I found an apple core and a small can of Hunt's Tomato Sauce. I kid you not, there was tomato sauce under my bed. The apple I could understand, since Princess has learned to help herself to food, but tomato sauce? Maybe Princess' pioneer-dressed doll I found under my headboard was preparing an Italian feast for the Little People elephant further down "the road".

I also found some of my yummy Bath and Body Works lotions I got at the 75% sale in January. Somehow they jumped off the dresser...or were they pushed? I have my suspicions that it was my beloved antique mirror my mom gave me for my bridal shower...or maybe the headless doll figurine looking for revenge on the loss of her noggin. Wait- what was I talking about? Oh yeah. My favorite is the Lemon Meringue Tutti Dolci body souffle. I'm really sad that they discontinued the line. I found a ton of other stuff and junk, most of it shouldn't have been my room to begin with. I have had a bad habit of throwing things in my room when someone is coming over because that is the one place they won't be going. I've actually locked the door so no one will go in and had to unlock it with a skinny screwdriver after they left .

Why am I exposing myself like this? I'm not sure. I don't like that I feel I need so much stuff around me. It feels comfortable in a way, because then I don't invite people over and I don't have to stress about being with other people, even though part of me wants to. Of course it causes a ton of stress when I'm trying to look for anything. I swear, half of my life has been spent looking for the boys' Sunday socks or shoes, for Princess' tights,...what did you say? I lived 21 of 29 years without my precious little ones whom I can't imagine life without? Ok, so it only feels like I've been looking for things half my life.

So, we're beginning with our room. Since James has this vacation until January 2nd we're gung-ho getting rid of stuff. The kids will watch movies until their eyes fall out if that's what it takes for them to let us work. We are going to get rid of lots and lots of things, and help each other be strong. "But Hon, I really like that" isn't a good enough excuse. We got into this mess (literally) because we hardly ever got rid of things that were good or useful. Since I've been working on losing weight -yes, maintaining it through the holidays counts as losing in my book- I realized that I've kept the extra stuff around me to keep me isolated from life like I've kept the extra pounds around me for the same reason.

My goal is to be able to look around me and not say- pardon my words- "I can't believe we have all this CRAP!!!" anymore. I think of people who have nothing, and I have so much. Hopefully a lot of this stuff will bless others, and that thought makes it easier to cart it out the door. Plus, it will be much easier to have a clean house if there's less stuff around. I think the satisfaction of seeing clear spaces will keep us going. I'm so thankful that James is supportive and helping with this, because it's definitely a two-person job. Well, actually we'd be great candidates for the crew of "Clean Sweep" or something like that, but I'll take one extra body to help.

Wish me luck! Oh, and lots of energy too.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I swiped this meme from Mindy. Visit her for gorgeous, deeply inspiring posts from her study of the scriptures.

Wrapping paper or gift bags?
For what? I'm assuming you mean for giving presents, because I think eating them would be a bad idea. I like to receive my presents wrapped. I like to give them in gift bags for people other than family, it's easier. Ok, I confess: it's not because it's easier, it's because my family doesn't care if their presents look like they're wrapped by an elf who had his mittens fused to his hands.

Do you have a Nativity scene? Not made of real people, I don't. I have a beautiful little one that has the donkey broken. I think he's been reglued, and my mantle would be the perfect place to put it--if my fireplace had a mantle.

Do you like eggnog? Silk Soy Nog all the way, baby!

Favorite Christmas movie? Mine? Anything with Christmas in it, including "While You Were Sleeping". I love Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, but my favorites are Elf, The Santa Clause (seen on my first date ever!) and Frosty the Snowman. My dad loves to quote the bad guy from Frosty and I remember hearing him saying, "Busy, busy, busy!' Oh, and I love those cheesy Christmas romances that are on Lifetime and Hallmark this time of year.

Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Umm...I used to mail. Last year, didn't. This year? Maybe a Christmas email.

Easiest person to buy for? Princess. I used to be a little girl, so I know what would make her more excited than anything.

Real tree or artificial? How about artificially real? I tried to bend the branches the right way to make it look realish. The base is a dead giveaway, since I haven't found the tree skirt I got on clearance last year yet. That may not be a bad idea since our hugs dog likes to try to lie under the tree. If there was a "blanket" there, he would try harder. I actually caught the tree as it was going over yesterday.

Angel or star on the tree top?
How about a "Star of David" that's too heavy so we have to wind the branches around it to make it stay? Right now it's pointing...let me look over my shoulder...northwest.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas gift? I honestly don't remember.

Favorite Christmas song? Hands down, the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

Do you travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home in the morning, travel 45 minutes to my parents for the afternoon. MUST have Christmas morning in our house!

White lights or colored on the tree? White now, as I decided a few years ago I liked nothing but. This year though, I felt a sudden nostalgic pang for the colored lights of my youth. Maybe the after Christmas sales...

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Food, not anything else no matter HOW good the candles smell. We have begun a tradition of sorts of having Italian food for Christmas. I love my raspberry shortbread, Russian Teacakes with pecans, and crinkle cookies. Yummy!!!

Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, I can. Can you?

When do you put up the tree?The goal is always for the weekend after Thanksgiving, but it usually ends up being much later. This year was pretty good, I got it up this past Monday.

What is your favorite place to go at Christmas? Church, and a park here where they put up this gorgeous light display that goes for around a mile. You drive around the park and see it all threading through the trees.

Open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? My husband's family used to open pajamas Christmas Eve. I think we used to open one on Christmas Eve when I was a kid now and then. We're only doing that if I get the kids pajamas. They don't have many presents this year (financially AND by choice) so we don't want to ruin Christmas morning.

What do you love most about Christmas? That we celebrate Christ's birth, and being with my family. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't have my family. People have always been the most important at Christmas. If I were alone, I'd go to the shelters and help make Christmas for others. When my kids are old enough, I plan on all of us going.

We're Still Alive

We've been smack-dab in the middle of that huge ice storm that flattened the midwest this week. My sister has been without power since Monday night, as has most of our city. Surrounding towns have had no power at all.

We are SO lucky to still have our power on when 90% of our city was without power. A tree limb took out our cable line, so we didn't have any tv, phone or internet until late last night when James fixed it with a $5 part from the hardware store. The line is still on the ground, but we're no longer cut off from the internet! Hooray!!!!

We're bracing for a fair amount of snow tonight. A lot of the ice melted off the trees yesterday, so hopefully that will be enough so the weight of the snow doesn't make more branches fall. We have a limb on our roof, but we don't know if it's damaged yet. I've taken pictures, so I hope to get them on here within a couple of days. There are downed limbs everywhere. It was so weird to open the door to a fairyland and hear the sounds of "gunshots" from breaking limbs.

We had plenty of food (thank you food storage), but our water storage had been neglected. That really hit home when we heard that our citywide water supply was down to two days because of the generators not working to pump the water. I filled up containers with water and got some of the last at the store, but you can bet I'm going to get my 2 week water supply very soon! It's so true how a near-disaster changes your priorities.

I'm signing off for now, and I hope that I'll be back with pictures soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Found and Lost

My digital camera is nice and takes pretty good pictures. I keep wishing I could put some fun photos on my blog, if I learn how to get them from the camera to the computer. I've missed that camera for a long time. It has been lost. I kept reminding James when he would ask me where I put it that "The last time I saw it was when you had it taking pictures of the possum in the tree. I haven't seen it since." Was it wrong of me to gloat? Perhaps. I tried to keep the gloatiness out of my voice, but it's hard since I am the one who's called him at work on more than one occasion to see if he had seen my keys. I was grateful that he took those pictures since I found Mr. Opossum smashed in the road just outside of our street a few weeks later. He lived under the storm drain in front of our house. I miss his sweet face. But I digress.

I finally found the camera several days ago while looking for my birth certificate on top of the refrigerator, because I need to renew my driver's license. It was the copy I ordered because I couldn't find my original. I'm sure it's in the boxes we still have packed somewhere, but I looked through about fifty million and couldn't find it. To his credit, James was excited I found the camera, and didn't say anything about me not looking far enough back on the refrigerator where he had suggested it was just a couple of weeks prior.

Now I have my camera and I since found the birth certificate (which was hiding from me by sneaking down into the bookshelf, taunting me when I saw it), but I've now lost my social security card. Since they changed the laws I have to have my birth certificate AND my social security card AND proof of residence to renew my license. I had the SS card somewhere.... and it too is a replacement. I'm glad it's still in the envelope because I never would find it otherwise.

If the government was ever in desperate need of me, I would be happy to run the witness protection program. If left up to me, no one would EVER be able to find anyone I had lost -um- placed.

But first I would have to drive there. To do that, I need my license renewed. So if you see a woman and three kids in a car-shaped, crayon decorated cardboard box running to the store Flintstone style, wave and say hi. Or if you're nice and not a stalker, maybe offer us a ride?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Late Night

Where are the words, what should they be? Swirling colors in my brain. Not joyful ones are spinning, only shades of black and grey. When life is overwhelming what small part is my mind, the colors of the rainbow dim to these two degrees of color, or absence of light. At least grey is partly light. When black comes, it sucks out bits of my existence, reminding me of potential failures, or past. Stings here and there as it takes, claims.

Remember to breathe. Long, deep, sustaining breaths. Air brings in light, soothes the points of the jagged flow, restores peace for the moment of expansion. Blackness is upon the bare branches of the oak just outside, and I should be falling into nothingness. That darkness I welcome, but never know which visions await. Vivid beauty or anguishing sadness? Is rest ever truly thus?

So I ramble on, words dripping off my fingers as the drops in a springstorm, without the gift of rebirth. Not caring to stem the tide, drip by drop, the flood lessens until I am left with a semblance of peace, still damp.

And so, light begins to rise from behind the clouds. With the promise of hope returning, I welcome the nothingness, and with it, peace.

"Duh, Mom!"

Last night we were having one of those fun family discussions that are about anything that comes to mind. I was talking to Professor about Princess, and how he would protect her when he's older. I mentioned how his dad and I would be counting on him to help us know which boys are nice ones when they're teenagers, and he said..."Duh, Mom! I am your eldest child!"

I turned away, stifling the urge to laugh hysterically.

Now you know why he's the Professor....

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Two posts in a day, that must be a record for me. I'm allowed, because I'm getting sick and feel yucky. Plus, I need a little stress relief since I don't feel well enough to go to the gym, James got called into work and I don't want to do anything except lay in bed. Except I can't lay in bed because I might fall asleep and wake up to discover the house leveled by the kids.

Yesterday was a wonderful, stressful and awful day all in one.

Do you have a child who is wonderfully imaginative and cuddly, but at many times feels like the naughtiest child on the planet who is going to single-handedly deliver you to your grave? My second child, Bugaboo is that very sort.

Yesterday we had to take Daddy his lunch, so we had to leave the house at 11:45. This was the conversation, during which the boys were watching tv. (My 7 year old son will be known as Professor now, because he loves to read and impart information to everyone, especially jokes.)

Mommy, at 11:10: "Boys, get your shoes and socks on, we're taking Daddy lunch."

Boys: No response.

Mommy, at 11:15: "Get your shoes and socks on NOW!"

Boys: "Ok"

(Yes, I know I should have followed through the first time, but I'm not

Professor: "Ok Mom". Goes and gets shoes on now that the tv is off.

Bugaboo: "AahhhIIIdonn'tknowwheretheyaaarrrreeee"

Mommy: "They're right there in the kitchen."

Professor: "I found your socks!"

Bugaboo: "I can't put my socks ooooooonnnnn. (To me) You dooo iiiiittt."

Mommy: "Yes you can. I'm not doing it. (I refuse to put socks on a five-almost 6- year old
when I'm trying to make fried egg sandwiches and looking for Princess's socks and


Mommy: "I'm not doing it. Ask your brother for help, I have to find Princess's shoes."
(I say this knowing fully that he can put his own socks on.)

Bugaboo: "NO! YOU DO IT!!!!"

Mommy: "I am not doing it, and if you don't have those on in five minutes your feet will be
freezing and you'll be crying because you want your shoes on when we go to the car."

Bugaboo, after some more yelling and crying, decides to let Professor help him because he knows I don't give idle threats. He's gone to the car with very cold feet before. By the time I finished getting everything ready with the interruptions it was 12:00. We dropped off lunch for Daddy, spent 15 minutes with him, then off to Walmart where I needed to find underwear for Princess (she started potty-training on her own, number 2 is working great but number 1 will need a lot of work), and black pantyhose, a curling iron, hairspray and red lipstick for me for the Cantata that night, and various other items we needed. We took a while, and the boys were getting restless.

In the underwear department, Bugaboo noticed the different color bras that were displayed for young teens. Many of them had padding. Why on earth would a young teenage girl need 1/2 inch of stuffing in her bra?

Anyway, he said "Are those for boobies?" as he poked one. "Yes," I said, then "Stop that right now!" as he started rubbing them and looking at me, laughing. I have no idea how he would think that's funny, maybe just because it had something to do with private parts and modesty. At five years old, that kind of humor is typical, but I was worried that passersby might think I was raising a little pervert.

This entire time Princess was clutching her precious Sleeping Beauty underwear, and after I would turn around to look some more at all that was there (Why would girls need 30 different styles of underwear? With boys it's boxers or briefs!) the boys got even more bored. Professor was behaving himself, but Bugaboo decided to torment his sister by grabbing her pack of princess underwear while she'd scream. After a few episodes of dealing with that, we left for the cosmetic department.

I finally decided on a curling iron as the boys started to chase each other, then Professor picked up Bugaboo a couple of times as they both were laughing. I don't blame them for being bored our of their minds, but I told them to sit down on the bottom of the shelf.

It's funny the looks I got. Some are of the "I can't believe you allow your children to act like that" variety, the same looks that I'm sure I gave before I had sons. Either those people have never had boys, or they were the ones who had the rare boys who are quiet and calm and never do anything wrong. Those are VERY rare. Other people wore slightly annoyed expressions as they waited for me to herd the two boys out of the middle of the narrow aisle. And there were a couple of people who smiled at us and gave me the "I know exactly what you're going through" expression. Those were my favorite people in the world at that moment.

After that we headed for the checkout, where I realized after standing in line for a few minutes that I had forgotten the lipstick. Now, I could have gone without, but I almost never get to dress up anymore for anything other than church. I've always wanted to wear a very red lipstick, but I knew that it had to be a certain shade and that I could pull it off only with certain clothes, and my cantata outfit was perfect for it. So we got out of line and went back to the cosmetic department.

I took a while comparing all the different shades, but I decided quickly after Professor said, "Mommy, he's showing his butt!"

Yep, Bugaboo was facing me, had pulled his pants down over his rear, and was bending over and giggling while mooning the end of the aisle. Luckily no one was there to see it. I was torn between laughing and crying, and hissed "PULL YOUR PANTS UP RIGHT NOW!!!!

Thankfully he listened right away and pulled up his pants, but continued laughing while bouncing his butt up and down while bending over. I turned back to the lipstick and chose one quickly.

I got some compliments last night on how beautiful I looked, which made me feel pretty special. The lipstick, hairspray and curling iron paid off. What overweight woman doesn't like to hear that she's beautiful once in a while, even if a person or two sound quite surprised as they say it? James tells me all the time, which I love to hear, but I keep telling myself that he's not just saying it because he's my husband and he has to. I know he's saying what he really feels, and I'm a lucky woman.

However, you know what one of the most special things of all was?

James was struggling with Professor and Princess during the whole performance, which lasted about an hour. Not so with Bugaboo. He listened to everything, focused on each song! After we got home, he snuggled with me for a little while. I asked him if he liked the music and the expression on his little adorable face became both rapturous and dreamy as he smiled and nodded his head.

He's the one who most often makes me feel that I'm losing my mind, but he's also the one who I hear the most saying, "Mommy, I love you". In fact, I just got one of those and a hug from him.

I'll keep him....even though I just discovered that the coveted Sleeping Beauty underwear was a size 8 instead of size 4, and that he was just running around in his underwear with his pants on top of his head.

A very strange dream

Last night I had a weird dream. I don't remember all of it, and had forgotten about it completely until I was reading the last few chapters of Kimberly's book. I'm not telling you which chapter, because you need to read it for yourself! It's geared towards 9-12 year olds, but I enjoyed it immensely. Kim has a gift for writing!

Anyway, after reading a certain chapter which shall remain nameless, I remembered part of my dream. It had been raining, and one of my children pointed out two rainbows that were on my deck, just outside the sliding glass doors. The rainbows were side by side, except instead of the usual arch one of them had the arch starting high at the beginning and dipped down quickly. They also weren't nearly as big as your usual rainbows.

I stepped outside and they were so vivid and bright, the most gorgeously glowing things I have ever seen. They were almost pulsating with colored light. When I put my hand out and took hold of one, its image changed. My hand went barely all around its circumference and the rainbow took on the slight appearance of a rope, while retaining its original brilliance and beauty. It felt damp, thick and dense, like a roll of wet paper towels that has been squeezed.

I knew that the rainbows would fade shortly, and I so wanted to preserve the beauty to savor later. The short time they would be there didn't seem long enough to fully appreciate and absorb their intensity. Since I discovered that the rainbow had substance, but was mostly water I realized that the reason rainbows disappear is because they evaporate. I called for a knife, and once it was in my hands I grasped the rainbow firmly and started sawing. I sliced through it, taking out a section a foot long to put in the freezer. I felt sorrow as I cut, feeling that I was almost doing something wrong by carving up such a glorious thing, but I also knew that it would be gone in a few minutes and I would never have a chance to feel that wonder in my hands again. It wasn't enough for me to savor and let the rainbow leave on its own terms.

After I was finished, I handed the rainbow section to my eldest and told him to put it in the freezer. I looked back at the rainbow and it stayed exactly where it was, sadly complete with its missing section. Not long after, both rainbows started to fade, and I felt wistful. I was glad I had some in the freezer.