Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Gift Can Come in All Shapes and Sizes.

This is not my Deep Thoughts post, but it is moderately deep.

On Friday I was doing a little Christmas shopping. I was standing in line, waiting to pay for my purchases when a couple got in line behind me.

"Let's quit shopping," he said. "Let's do something else. Let's go for a ride in the mountains," he suggested hopefully.

That sounds nice, I thought to myself. Spending the day together, riding in the mountains. But before I could even complete the thought she turned on him.

"Christmas is next week," she snarled. "If I could get some help in getting ready for Christmas maybe we could." I was thrown by the venom and hatred in her voice. She continued to berate him for a good minute or so, outlining all that SHE had done to get ready for Christmas and all that he had NOT done.

I don't know this couple. I never even really looked at their faces. I don't know what their lives are like. I just heard this guy, obviously wanting to spend some time with his wife. Away from all the hustle and bustle. And she, all she could focus on was what had to be done and all the sacrifices she made. My heart broke for that guy just a little bit. And my heart broke for her, too. That she couldn't see the gift that was right in front of her.

I am trying to stop and see the gifts in front of me, too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Linky Love

If you haven't already been over to say hi, today is Holly's (of Anglophile Football Fanatic fame) birthday and all she wants is to reach a 100 comments. So, go over, say hi and wish her a happy birthday. She's at about 78 comments right now.....

I've got some deep thoughts a-brewing. Back in a day or two to write 'em all down. Off to the MIL's tomorrow.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Never Go Up Against a Preschooler When Death is on the Line

Do you ever catch yourself doing something and think to yourself "What in the hell am I doing?"

For me, these days, it usually has something to do with my kids and it's usually some reaction I'm having to something they've done. I don't know if it's the lack of sleep accumulated over several months (because I also neglected to mention yesteday the nagging lower back pain that has interrupted my sleep for months) or if it's just my general stress level, but sometimes I overreact. Yes. It's true. I overreact.

Take for example a couple of Saturdays ago when we went to the Atlanta Christmas parade. My stepsister's company hosts a lovely Breakfast With Santa before the parade and then gives us front-row bleacher seats for the parade itself. It's a lot of fun and this year was our fourth year attending.

Last year we got a fantastic picture of both kids with Santa.

That picture made three years in a row that I'd had the kids pictures made with Santa and frankly, I couldn't believe Punkin was so good natured about the whole experience. In the previous year she'd screamed like a banshee and I was expecting the worst last year. But nope, she was as good as gold.

When we first spotted Santa this year she jumped up and down and squealed and pointed him out to me, so I had high hopes. We went and stood in line and both kids were eyeing the little toys that Santa always gives the kids after they sit in his lap.

When it was our turn -- after twin boys who looked about 7 or 8 took FOREVER, refusing to smile and not answering Santa's questions and as the line piled up behind us -- Bubba hopped right up. I picked up Punkin and prepared to put her on Santa's other knee when she resorted to Tactic #1 in the Toddler/Preschooler Evasion Handbook: Make yourself as stiff as a board and refuse to bend your legs all while screaming at a pitch that makes dogs howl.

I appealed to reason (ha!): "Punkin, don't you want to have a great picture of you and Bubba with Santa to put with our other pictures?" She didn't say it, but her look clearly said "Hell no!"

And then I tried bribery, but with a stern tone: "Punkin, if you don't sit with Santa, Santa won't give you a toy." She looked stricken, but still refused to budge.

And that's when I caught myself. What was I doing? I was practically terrorizing my child because she wouldn't cooperate with my vision of what SHOULD be. I was so bound and determined to get that fourth consecutive year that I didn't even care that she was scared of Santa. I also realized that I was trying to make Santa look like a bad guy, for pete's sake. I realized that I looked like an ass.

So, I let it go. I realized that it really wasn't that important. What good is the picture if all I can remember about the day is the fight that I had with her over it.

"Mommy, can I have a toy?" she asked quietly.

"Sure, Punkin. Run go get one out of Santa's bag. I'm sure he won't mind."

My mom always told me to pick my battles. And I try to. It's just that sometimes you have to be right in the thick of the battle before you know which side you're on.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Land of Nod

4:00 a.m.

That's what time I wake up every day. Well, to be honest, sometimes it's 3:48. And sometimes it's 4:02. But you get the picture.

That's not what time I WANT to get up. It's just what time my brain decides I need to be awake. Most of the time I'll fall back into a fitful doze until my alarm goes off at 5:00.

I get up feeling very groggy and not at all rested.

This has been going on for about two weeks now and frankly, I'm getting tired of it. I'm tired of being tired. I want to SLEEP.

I've never had problems sleeping. Any time, anywhere, give me some quiet, a light blanket, and dim the lights and I'm out. I'm a consummate napper, though lately I've given those up too. There just isn't enough time.

I suppose I could go to bed early, but I go to bed now between 9:00 and 9:30. I'm just not sure I can go to bed any earlier. I need my child-free time almost as much as I need my sleep.

So, I'm about to take desperate measures. I bought a sleep aid. I've used them occasionally before but I don't like to take them too often. I told Mr. Daddy today that I just want one night. Just one night. That's all I need.

My moments of grace over the past couple of days:

1. Singing O Come O Come Emmanuel at church.

2. Having a girls night with Punkin on Friday evening.

3. Finding new and old friends on Facebook and finding out that I haven't been forgotten. (yes, I finally joined the 21st century)

4. Watching Punkin and Bubba give each other a hug before bedtime.

5. Publix birthday cakes (sorry, Matt!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Moments of Grace -- Several of Them

So I'm a little behind in my moments of grace. I promise I AM noticing them, even if I don't always post them here. Here are a few that really stick out from the past couple of days:

1. My first glass of eggnog of the season. With a little Captain Morgan's thrown in for good measure.

2. Sitting in the dark, with just the Christmas tree lit, looking at the lights.

3. Listening to the rain fall, pattering on the windows.

4. Watching a torrent of leaves fall, each one spiraling down individually.

5. A huge bank of clouds, reaching so high they looked like thunderheads. Except it's December.

6. Seeing the smile on Bubba's face and knowing how happy it's made him when I tell him that I've given him some money so he can shop in the Santa Shop at school.

(An aside, tonight while he was doing his homework he asked me what was my favorite thing to do. "Read," I replied. His eyes lit up and he looked like the cat that swallowed the canary. "I got..." he said, before Mr. Daddy cut him off with a "Don't tell her what you got her!" It looks like Bubba has inherited his uncle's inability to keep secrets!)

The Second Time Around

Sorry about my absence, if anybody missed me. I've been re-reading the Twilight books, and unfortunately they are sucking me in the second time around as much as they did the first time.

Also, last night when I went to get on the computer, Mr. Daddy was already there working on his geneaology stuff and by the time he was done, the urge to blog had passed.

I have some thoughts about the new Twilight books, if anybody's interested. I'm re-reading them after seeing the movie changed my perspective on the storyline in the book. I don't want to give away too much in case you haven't read/seen this "pop culture phenomenon" but just know that there are SPOILERS AHEAD. There, I've done my duty, as it were.

The first time around, I didn't want Bella to become a vampire. I can't articulate exactly why, but there was just something about her complete willingness to give up everything about being a human that just pissed me off. I mean, I know it's just a book, but good grief. Don't throw yourself so completely into your guy. I know it's true love and all that, but he's the first guy you've dated. We ALL felt like that about our first boyfriends.

Of course, all this is pretty ironic coming from me, the girl who always threw herself completely into every boyfriend, so all this overthinking of a fiction book was probably just me trying to give Bella the benefit of my experience.

After seeing the movie I did want Bella to become a vampire after all, but that probably had more to do with Robert Pattinson and his brooding eyes than it did anything else.

But in my re-reading I've had a surprising reaction. The first time around I didn't really like New Moon very much. I didn't like the way Bella was so spineless, She just gave up. And then, she attached herself to Jacob in a way that was even less healthy than her attachment to Edward.

But this time as I was reading it, I enjoyed it more. Now don't get me wrong, I'm an Edward fan, but I kind of found myself rooting for Jacob, just a little bit. I think it was Bella's comparison of her story to the story of Romeo and Juliet that did it for me. If you remember, she tries to imagine what Juliet would have done if Romeo had left her. Would she have turned to Paris, if Paris had been her best friend?

When she thought that Edward wasn't coming back, Bella had begun to consider Jacob as a romantic possibility. He was her best friend. And I think that those kinds of relationships, the kind with friendship at it's core, are the best kind. I'm married to my best friend and I wouldn't have it any other way. Imagine what Bella's life would have been like if Edward hadn't returned. I don't just seems like a healthier alternative to me, in a way.

Now don't everybody send me angry emails. I'm still on Team Edward. I guess.

And yes, I am 36 years old and just wrote an entire blog post about vampires and werewolves.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oooh, That Smell

Today as I was walking to the staff room to heat up my lunch, I caught a whiff of someone's very strong perfume. It was a scent from my youth and though I can't tell you exactly what it was, I immediately went spinning back through time. It's funny how perfumes can make you think of certain people, certain times. But I guess that's what it's supposed to do.

I associate White Shoulders with my mother and Mennan Skin Bracer with my dad because those were my go-to gifts for them when I was child. Someone told me that they liked those scents and so I kept them well supplied for years.

I can't remember exactly when I started wearing perfume, but I've worn my share over the years. The first that I remember actively choosing was Giorgio. Of course, I didn't wear the real thing, but one of those knock off body sprays that were so popular for a while.

That was followed by Liz (as in Claiborne). I think we were all wearing either Liz or Giorgio during high school. Or maybe Obsession. For the guys it was Polo all the way. The entire high school reeked of Polo. There was no sneaking around if your boyfriend was wearing Polo -- that stuff would cling to you for days!

Once during my my senior year I was staying with some family friends while my mom was out of town and their college aged daughter had a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Curious, I tried it and was hooked. Wearing it I was classic, refined, rich -- all the things the Chanel name brings to mind.

I wore Chanel for years, until in college I met a guy. And this guy sold perfume knockoffs. He had a huge case full of samples and he let me pick one. We did a blind test, so I could see what I really liked and wouldn't be swayed by the name. We sniffed and sniffed and sniffed.

He handed me one bottle in particular "Try this."

"Ooh, yuck. I don't like that one at all! What is it?"

"Chanel No. 5!!" Oops. We both collapsed into laughter because I had been so adamant about my love for Chanel.

From that scent test I selected Estee Lauder's Beautiful, which I still love, but these days I've moved on to Happy by Clinique. It's my favorite fragrance and it really makes me happy when I wear it. I've been out for a while (hint, hint - Christmas is coming!) and I've kind of gotten out of the habit of wearing a scent, or even wanting to.

But I would like to have a signature scent, something that will remind people of me.

What about you? Do you wear perfume? If so, what's your favorite? Do particular scents remind you of certain people or times in your life?

Oh, and my five moments today...

1. The warm shower after making coffee in the cold kitchen.

2. Community coffee.

3. Free food.

4. Not really worrying about the 2 pounds I gained since last week. That's the great thing about Weight Watchers.

5. Watching the kids watch the Polar Express train that we put up around the base of our Christmas tree tonight.

Just Reading About it Makes Me Tired

Okay, so I'm not doing such a great job with posting my moments of grace, but it was a supremely busy weekend and I just never had an opportunity to sit down at the computer. If I had sat still for more than a moment, I'm sure I would have fallen asleep.

To give you an idea of how busy this weekend was, here's a rundown.

Friday night -- Mr. Daddy's office Christmas party. While it was a lot of fun, we didn't get home until 10:30 and then I had to get everyone's clothes ready for the next day.


5:00 a.m. - wake up to get ready to go to Atlanta
6:00 - wake kids up
6:30 - leave to pick up my mom
7:00 - arrive at my mom's house, leave for Atlanta
8:15 - arrive in Atlanta
8:30 - go to Breakfast with Santa
9:00 - wrestle with Punkin while I attempt to get her to sit in Santa's lap. It was a no-go, which was really frustrating. I have three years of really great photos of the kids with Santa, but not this year. Sometimes I just want to peench her head off.
10:30 - Atlanta Christmas Parade begins. This is always a lot of fun. There are always great marching bands, The Twilight Twirlers (no, they're not vampires, just older ladies in their "twilight years" doing a baton routine). The Briefcase Brigade (a group of business men doing a routine with their briefcases). And finally, Santa, who actually had real reindeer this year.
11:00 - lunch. Waited in the line of the slowest Chick-fil-a employee on record. Seriously, I think I could have jumped behind the counter and been faster.
2:00 - headed back to Athens
3:15 - dropped off my mom.
3:45 - arrived at home. Flopped. For approximately 2.5 seconds before we jumped back in the car to go get our Christmas tree.
4:15 - arrived at tree farm
4:17 - picked out tree
4:19 - on our way home (yes, we're fast like that)
5:00 - arrived home

By this time Mr. Daddy and I were so beat that we agreed we would put up the tree but we would actually decorate it on Sunday.

I'll spare you the minute by minute breakdown of Sunday, but just know that it included, church, a funeral, and the grocery store and that I didn't sit down yesterday until well after 9:00 p.m.

However, as busy as it was, there were some moments of grace. Here are a few that come to mind.

1. Surprise cupcakes.

2. Enjoying having a drink with my husband on a Friday evening in a cozy little bar.

3. Seeing my children's excitement over seeing Santa (from a distance!)

4. Having Punkin sing Jingle Bells to me.

5. Walking into the tree farm, all discussing the merits of various Christmas trees.

6. Feeling the love of my family during times of trouble and sadness.

7. Seeing the glow of the Christmas tree lights in Punkin's eyes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

365 Days of Grace -- Day 1

So, I saw this on Fannie's Blog the other day, though it originated with Schmutzie, and thought it was a fantastic idea. You can click on the Schmutzie link and read all about it, but basically you're supposed to list 5 moments of grace every day, either something that happened that day, or something that happened at some point in your life.

I find that it's very easy to get sucked in by the frenzy of life and I often find myself feeling frustrated and pointing out everything that's wrong. This effort is going to be my way of trying to be more positive and to be aware of these moments of grace every day. So here we go:

1. I saw the most gorgeous sunrise this morning. Orange and pink and purple, the sky looked like it was on fire.

2. And then I saw a rainbow, even though it wasn't raining. The sunrise on one side of the sky was reflecting on a bank of clouds on the other side creating the first non-rain rainbow I've ever seen.

3. The frost covering the trees made everything looked as though it had been dipped in crystalized sugar.

4. Having lunch with three co-workers that I really like, enjoying their friendship.

5. Reading a bedtime story to my son and having him read part of it to me!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

They Say It's Your Birthday....

Today is Bubba's sixth birthday. If you asked him, he'd probably say it was a good one.

Cupcakes for breakfast -- though I got them ALL WRONG. They were supposed to be chocolate cupcakes with white icing, not vice versa. When I offered to keep them at home (since they were ALL WRONG) instead of sending them to school, he quickly decided they were just fine.

This is my annual "Letter to Bubba"

Dear Bubba,

People always say "Oh the years have flown by," but there's a reason why everybody says this: They do fly by. Six years have been as though just a day.

Growing up I always wanted to be a mother. I always loved kids and wanted to have six or seven of my own. But I had no idea what actually becoming a mother would do to me.

The day you were born, Bubba, was the day that I became complete. I thought I was my best self before that day, but in the days since I have become more and more satisfied with the me-ness of me. You, and my love for you, push me to be a better person. I want to be the best mother that I can be for you. And while I don't always succeed, it is the trying that strengthens me.

You are growing up and I can feel you ever so slightly moving away from me, stretching your wings. By no means ready to leave the nest, but certainly no longer a baby. It makes me simultaneously unbearably sad and heart-expandingly proud.

You are so smart, Bubba. Never lose the thirst for answers that you have now. Always be curious about everything.

Don't let anyone hold you back from your dreams. Not even me and your dad. Especially not us. But don't forget that we do know somethings and we will have wisdom to impart.

You have a tender heart, Bubba. You feel things deeply. I know that this tenderness will probably get lost in the testosterone flood of the coming years, but I hope that you keep your sweet heart.

Sometimes I catch your eye and we smile at each other, sending a secret message. I love you. You love me. And we're a good team, you and me. I will always be your champion, your protector. Your mother.

I will do my best so that when you are ready to leave the nest, you will be ready. And even when you leave the nest, I will always be here for you.

Happy Birthday, Bubba. I love you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Incoming Tide

For some time now I've been calling Punkin my "spirited child" -- complete with air quotes. That's really just a nice way of saying she's spoiled rotten. Being in the throes of the terrible twos (which really goes well into their third year, a fact nobody tells you) is not a good combination with "spirited."

She is a very impatient child. From what my mother tells me, she must be just like I was at her age. I'm sorry, Mom.

No answer is ever good enough for Punkin. "What are we having for dinner, Mommy?"


"What else?"

"A salad."

"What else?"

"Some corn muffins."

"What else?"

"That's it. That's all we're having."

"What else?"


"WHAT ELSE?!!??" she'll yell, clearly not satisfied.

And she thinks that her father and I can magically create things out of thin air by the simple act of her saying "please." "I want to see more Christmas lights, Mommy."

"Well, there aren't any right here. Keep your eyes open and maybe you'll see some more."

"Please, Mommy. Pleeeease. I WANT MORE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!!!"

Sheesh, if I had that kind of power I wouldn't be wishing for more Christmas lights. A million bucks, maybe.

But slowly, ever so slowly, her behavior is starting to improve. It's one of those things that you don't really notice -- it kind of sneaks up on you, like the incoming tide at the beach. One minute you're dozing in the sun and the next minute the waves are lapping at the edge of your towel. One day you just realize that you haven't had to yell as much, haven't had to threaten time outs as much, that requests are met with compliance instead of defiance.

You realize that you actually enjoy spending time with your preschooler. And that you like the person she's becoming.

Even if it means she's growing up.