Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowed In

Today’s snow day makes last week’s look like a joke. There are 4' long icicles hanging outside my bathroom window, providing the curtain I’ve yet to put up in the three years we’ve lived in this house. I guess I’m just not overly concerned with being spotted in my altogether. Our poor oversized Christmas blow-up bears are mired down, struggling vainly to stand up- the polar bear had a rip that Jeremy duct taped last week, and the weight of the snow has ripped it back open. I’m not sure if he’ll risk surgery again, or just call time of death. Atleigh’s Little Tykes infant swing has turned into a blue bucket holding 13 inches of snow, suspended on frozen yellow ropes.

Jeremy, my brave man, is out shoveling the walk right now. He’s sick as a dog, but we left our stocking candy from his mom in the Jeep, and apparently, his craving for Hot Tamales outweighs his borderline bronchitis. And I wouldn’t say no to my Cookies N Cream bar I’ve been dreaming about since yesterday.

The kids are making plans for snowmen and snow cream and snowball fights... All activities must involve snow. Their uncle and grandma brought them some wonderful snow boots. Chloe loves hers, pink and black with white fur. She thinks they make her faster and stronger. Ashton says his make him look like he’s nine. We haven’t set foot outside all day. I don’t plan to, if I can help it. I love to look at snow, but I don’t like to walk in it. Jeremy is our snow parent. I’m much more of a “Oh you poor dears, come inside before you catch your death of cold!” type of parent. I throw pajamas in the dryer and keep it running until they come back inside, so they have something warm to change into.

We just ate chicken quesadillas, burning Christmas tree scented candles and listening to Mumford & Sons. If you haven’t listened to this band, you must. You absolutely must. They are incredible. I have a self made rule about not listening to anything other than Christmas music from November to Christmas; but in the midst of Bing Crosby, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and The Vince Guaraldi Trio, I was counting the days until I could listen to Mumford & Sons again. No small praise.

Tonight I might make chocolate chip cookies or cinnamon rolls. I’m a scant 200 pages from finishing my book, so maybe I’ll do that too. All in all, being snowed in hasn’t been so very terrible.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holly Jolly

This has probably been my busiest Christmas, by far. I don’t know that we really had more activities than usual... maybe it’s just having a 7, (almost) 5, and 2 year old that makes such a big difference. Well, mostly the 2 year old makes a big difference. And it seems every Christmas adds more babies to our extended family, and more babies means more chaos and noise and fun.

So now it’s 10:45, and Christmas is almost over. For the first time in my life, it’s a white(ish) one, even if it’s donned in the night like special Christmas pajamas. I’ve had random occurring thoughts and observations all day, things like:

Atleigh is the life of the party. I’m pretty sure she gets this from her dad, because it certainly doesn’t come from me. She draws every eye in the room to her just by being there. Like a little undersized magnet with glasses. So... Woody Allen?

If Atleigh is my class clown, Chloe is my social butterfly. She’s everyone’s friend, even if she’s never met them before. She’s a gracious hostess, even if it’s not her party. She’s extravagant with compliments and the queen of superlatives. She tells everyone they are “amazing” or “beautiful”, or “wonderful”. And she means it all.

Ashton thinks he is way too cool. I’m not sure how to handle it. I’ve always hated the ages 7-12, especially in boys (I can say that because I’ve survived three younger brothers). I guess I’ll just let him keep on thinking he’s cool for now. He’ll learn sooner or later how dorky Star Wars is.

I love that four members of my family are reading the same series at once (Although I hate that Nathan started way after me and is already 2 1/2 books ahead of me). And I love that we can have a whole conversation about it for a half hour, all of us talking over each other, blurting out quotes and, “Oh! Have you gotten to the-??” “- Wait don’t tell me anything yet!! Don’t ruin it!” But I swear, if I hear “Dumai’s Wells” one more time...

The more I hang out with my sisters-in-law, the more I love them, and the more grateful I am that I’m tied to them.

Apparently my family CAN be on time! However, if they arrive on time, it’s imperative that they leave early. I suppose the weather could have had something to do with it too...

I have a real issue with throwing away shoe boxes. I don't know why. Jeremy, Ashton, and both of the girls got new shoes today, and for some reason I just want to hoard the boxes.

I am blessed with an amazing mother-in-law, who has never made me feel like anything other than her daughter.

I love the rapport between the grandkids of Jeremy’s family with their grandparents. I love that they joke with them and tease them, and know their habits and personalities so well. I love the way they make fun of Granddad for the way he says grace. It sounds a little like this: “DearLord Smierehggdsbjkiiththtgdgfhd. Ahmayen.” I don’t understand what in the world he’s saying. I’m not sure they do either, but they can all say whatever it is word for word. For a kid who has grown up with out of town grandparents for the majority of her life, this is beautiful to behold.

I love love love my niece and nephews. I didn’t really think it was possible to love other kids as much as I love mine, but they’re living proof that it is.

My family has a penchant for plaid. And I mean that in the best way possible.

I am so, so very blessed.

So even though today was hectic and breathless, I’m glad my heart and mind took a few breathers to look around them, even if I wasn’t paying attention. Now I’m going to curl up on the couch with a heating pad, a book, and my husband, and spend the remaining hour of this Christmas taking deep breaths and thanking God for my life.

How was your Christmas?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Today marks an anniversary I’d give anything to not be remembering. A year ago today, Jeremy’s best friend died, just 2 weeks before his 27th birthday. The shock, disbelief, grief, and horror of that day in our lives cannot be described. The hoping against hope that it was a sick joke, a misunderstanding, anything other than the truth.

I’ve sat here for 30 minutes, typing and re-typing. Trying to think of what to say. Maybe I’ll just say what I’m actually thinking.

A year has gone by so quickly. This time last year, swallowed in grief, resentment, bewilderment, I felt like we would never heal. This pain has shaped a new facet of Jeremy’s character. In some ways it has made him better, in some ways worse. There are still bad days. I think maybe there always will be.

Tommy had a brilliant smile, a contagious laugh, and a generous heart. He loved. He gave. He served. He honored everyone but himself. But his life changed ours. And his story is changing lives. Through all of this, we have emerged with a purpose: That he not be forgotten. That his voice not be silenced. The honor, value, and love that he could not give himself, that he struggled to receive from others, will be given to him now.

There is so much I could say. So many stories I could tell. Not today. Today I have a message.

If you are feeling alone, or desperate, or keeping silent: You are not alone. We are with you. Speak. We will listen. You have value. You have worth. You have a voice. And like Tommy, you are never, ever forgotten.

If you'd like to see a video Jeremy made in honor of Tommy, click here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Day Happenings

Who says anger isn’t productive? Jeremy and I have spent the last 4 hours cleaning and organizing our room (I feel like a teenager saying “cleaning my room”, but there’s no way around it), and bickering the whole time. We’ve gotten tons done. I don’t know how we’ve managed to fit so much junk into our house... old papers, mismatched socks, obsolete phone chargers. But apparently, however it all managed to find a home and stay there, it’s all my fault. I can’t completely disagree with that accusation, I just don’t like being singled out. It’s not that I’m a hoarder... I just don’t know what to throw away. I don’t know what’s important. So I stick stuff here, or there, and forget about it. Sometimes for as long as up to 3 years, as I found out today.

Now Jeremy is sprawled out on our bedroom floor (since our bed is covered with the innards of our closet) with a sinus migraine. I have to reheat his heat sock every 7 to 10 minutes, or however often a plaintive “Marrrr-yyyyyyy” emits from the vicinity of our room. Now, the heat sock is not an unknown concept in the world of marketing. I’ve seen them everywhere, though not in an actual sock. Ours is an entity all its own. I made it about 4 years ago from an old, bright red softball sock, stuffed with half a box of Uncle Ben’s white rice. We toss it in the microwave for a minute or so and then Jeremy lays down with it over his eyes. I hate that sock. It’s soaked up the odors of various microwaves for 4 years and is covered with lint. I think it smells like old pee. Jeremy disagrees, but I can tell when I walk into the house whether he has a headache or not. I can smell the sock.

I’ve been gorging myself today on Diet Dr. Pepper and Reese’s Bells. I know it’s more of a hot chocolate and muffin kind of day, but I don’t have either. Even if I did, I would probably still stick with the other stuff. I’m ready to put the kids to bed, and sit by the Christmas tree with my iPod and my book. I’ve been busy a lot lately in the evenings, and for this introvert, that’s the emotional equivalent of running the gauntlet with Dr. Phil on live television. I hate how fast December is going by. I want to grab it by its ears- well, actually, I imagine December has reindeer antlers- and make it slow down. I miss being a kid where this month was about nothing but waiting. I love the waiting. And now I don’t get the chance to wait; I have to be ahead.

I’m happy that Ashton’s out of school today, but I’m sad that they canceled his Christmas program as well. He’s upset about all that “hard work for nothin’!”. However, I am glad that I didn’t buy black dress shoes and a tie last night for said program. Sometimes Mom’s intuition (ok, and weather reports....) comes in handy.

What’s happening in your snowy neck of the woods?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Every Time A Bell Rings...

I wrote this a year or two ago, but I'm posting it again. It's still so apropos, and there's really nothing I could add to it.

Tonight I watched one of the best Christmas movies of all time. While I was growing up, my mother always watched "It's A Wonderful Life" while she wrapped presents. I remember sitting at the top of the stairs on Christmas Eve, sometimes even at two in the morning, resting my head against the stairwell, my bare toes wrapped around the wooden stair; listening to the unrolling of the wrapping paper, the "shk shk, shhhhhk" of the scissors- my mother could glide through wrapping paper with scissors like a hot knife through butter: not a single jagged edge, straight lines all the way- hearing the clean "pop" that Scotch tape makes as its torn (incidentally, I absolutely love the smell of Scotch tape- it smells more like Christmas to me than anything else), and listening to George Bailey sing "Buffalo Girls", or Sam Wainwright screech "HEE HAW!"

And so of course, it does behoove me to carry on the tradition. Because after all, what better thing can you do while wrapping Christmas presents?

I have probably seen "It's a Wonderful Life" no less than fifteen times, and it still has yet to grow old. Every single time Mr. Gower boxes young George's ear, I kid you not, I bawl. Every single time. Tonight was no different. I sat there huddled up against my couch with tears streaming down my cheeks, listening to poor George crying out, seeing Mr. Gower's anguish- oh Lord, it's so sad!

I never fail to identify with the life George was dealt: the frustration, the claustrophobia of watching all your friends going on to do great things- all the things he should have done- and being held back by circumstances or choices that were made for him. I love how he makes the best of the life he got, loving his wife, his kids, his family and his town to the best of his ability. Making a difference every day in the little small things that he never even knew he did. I wince every time at the desperation in his eyes, the cruelty of Mr. Potter as he barks, "You're worth more dead than alive!"

And I laugh with joy every time he runs through the streets of Bedford Falls shouting, "Merry Christmas, Movie House! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas you wonderful old Building and Loan!" And I cry again as the town's people rush into his house- his beautiful, drafty old house- offering him money that they most likely couldn't spare, pouring back into his lap all the love, and goodness, and generosity he had shown them over the years. Mr. Gower, "calling in charges", Annie giving up her divorce money, and the bank examiner giving into the Christmas spirit.

Its funny to think how our lives intersect and touch so many others. One thing I do could effect so many people I've never met and never will meet. We are all like pebbles thrown in a pond, our ripples connecting, passing through, maybe even disturbing the ripples of those around us, and never even knowing that the pebbles thrown in with us have their own story, their own history, and their own effect on others. But what if my pebble had never been thrown? What if I had never touched one person, never caused one tiny ripple in the pond? Clarence was right when he told George he had been given a great gift- The gift of being able to see what the world would have been like without him.

I think that's what "It's a Wonderful Life" is really about. Showing us how much of a difference one tiny ripple can make in the world around us. Teaching us that the people we rub shoulders with, the people we smile at, frown at, laugh at and love are the ones that will ultimately change the life of someone around them- someone who adopts a child, preaches on the street, bags your groceries, or runs for president.

Who knows? Maybe my ripple will change the world.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering

I hate that I decide to take a nap, fall asleep for about 20 minutes, and then wake up and can’t go back to sleep. I think the whole “power nap” theory is a crock. I don’t feel better. My brain just works too much.

So, instead of taking a nice nap with my fuzzy new Christmas blanket, I’ll write a blog. I’ll title it: Things About Me You Didn’t Need to Know!

1. I wish I was taking a nap.
2. I used to be a dog person. After I had kids, I didn’t want a dog. Dogs are so needy, and I don’t need anything else needing me.
3. I’ve lived in my house for over 3 years, and I’ve never hung the first picture on the walls. I take thousands of pictures, and I don’t hang them up.
4. I secretly listen to the High School Musical soundtracks.
5. I hate wearing socks.
6. I have only shaved my legs about once every 2 weeks since the end of October. What’s the point?
7. I get somewhat offended when someone tells me my style is “unique” or, “I could never pull that off!” I think it’s a backhanded compliment, and you’re basically telling me I’m weird and you’d never be stupid enough to wear what I’m wearing.
8. I hate almost all of Amy Grant’s Christmas songs, but I especially loathe her version of “Sleigh Ride”. When she yells “Yoo Hoo!”, it makes me want to punch things.
9. I’m obsessed with literary analogies and metaphors, especially about nature. My brain is always thinking of them. I don’t ever like to share them or write them down- they’re so very Anne Shirleyesque, and I don’t want to be laughed at.
10. If I’m mad at you, chances are you’ll never, ever know.
11. I’m really, really bad at sharing. I hate it, actually. I don’t want to share- go get your own.
12. I felt called to go to Africa when I was about 14, but I decided I didn’t want to. I rarely thought of it again until this past year, and now I would give almost anything to get there, even though I’m terrified. There. I’ve never told anyone that before.
13. I’ve never dreamed of living in the country. No thank you.
14. I’m very bad at motivating myself to do things I don’t want to do, ie: laundry, dishes, waking up early, taking a shower when it’s cold.
15. I only like candles that smell like baking things, unless it’s a Christmasy candle.
16. I hate summer and winter. I don’t like extreme temperatures. I don’t want it to get any hotter than 85 or any colder than 50.
17. I don’t wear black and gray and white because I’m depressed or trying to be emo or whatever. I wear them because I genuinely like the colors, and I don’t like bright clothes.
18. I read books I like over and over. I don’t get tired of them, and I don’t understand people who don’t reread.
19. I don’t want to turn 30.
20. I talk to myself in a British accent.
21. If I ever have the money to get a boob job, I will. So don’t be shocked or anything.
22. I’ve been changing diapers almost every day for the past 7 years, 3 weeks, and 1 day. That’s very, very depressing.
23. I don’t want to live in an old house really, but I’d love to live in a house that looks like an old house.
24. When I’m talking, I spell the words in my head.
25. I don’t like having long nails.
26. Total silence hurts my ears.
27. I know I don’t get enough sleep, but when bedtime comes I always convince myself I can use less. Sleeping feels like such a waste of “me” time.
28. I own four green towels, all in different shades. Only one of them was originally mine. I don't know where I acquired the others.
29. I have an unholy horror of dressing in American flag colors. You'll never see me wearing red, white, and blue, even if it's jeans, on purpose.
30. The smell of Pampers diapers makes my Mom hormones go into overdrive.
31. I almost erased this whole blog because it’s so pointless.