Saturday, December 31, 2011

Please, No Pictures

Today started with me mourning hard for Christmas. I'm fairly pathetic over the passing of the holiday season every year. And I'm a world champion moper--it's hard to outdo me for melancholy and melodrama. So I did what every weepy mama does when she is trying not to dwell on the ending of another chapter in the lives of her children--I went birdwatching. It's hard to beat a New Year's Eve pizza picnic at the wildlife refuge on a sunny 60 degree day.

We enjoyed the company of the usual suspects--harriers, eagles, herons, coots, pintails. The sky was amazing with dark clouds on one side and the sun on the other. Naturally we found ourselves without a usable camera (long, frustrating, and boring story). And then, what did we spot, but a red fox sitting right in the middle of the road. All of a sudden we went from being all alone to being surrounded by people with cameras that had lenses on them the size of my two-year-old. It was like the wildlife paparazzi. They were literally just a few feet away from this poor fox with their giant lenses, while it tried to get a drink of water. I can't imagine what they were trying to photograph--fleas?

Anyway, it struck me that sometimes it's better to leave the camera at home and just enjoy the moment. Perhaps that will be my mantra for the new year.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It's been a wild month for me. Two birthdays, seven doctor visits (five of them for me), three Percocet, and one retirement. I'm hoping tonight marks the end of the madness for awhile and that Christmas week is peaceful. Twelve years ago today I brought my second child home from the hospital. He was born on the 23rd and they offered to let me stay an extra day, but there was no way I was going to be in the hospital for Christmas. Because he was just over a week early, I was caught unawares and unprepared. The birth I was ready for, but Christmas day--not so much. Being a serial procrastinator, I had counted on those last couple days as being my get-it-done time. As a result, I was still trying to wrap presents moments before they were opened. Austin, then 5, was sick with a fever, cough, and stomach upset, I was an emotional wreck with postpartum hormone collapse, and I still was determined to cook Christmas dinner for my parents (which they permitted--at that point it was probably wise to not challenge me--though they did help a good deal). By comparison, this Christmas feels calm. At least I managed to wrap everything with a day to spare this year. Just a few last minute gifts to set up and I'll be on my way to dreamland.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happiness Is . . .

. . . warm sugar cookies.
. . . a two-year-old playing the piano and singing while greeting any attention one pays to this activity with, "Mom, stop!"
. . . leftover Chinese food.
. . . bird watching in the freezing cold and seeing two swans fly over.
. . . seeing an 11-year-old get emotional with joy over picking out a gift he wants for the sole purpose of giving it away to an unknown boy in need.
. . . a fire in the woodstove.
. . . watching my 17-year-old grow in his social skills and reach out with real interest to others (preferably those outside his family--he is 17, after all).
. . . playing Christmas music.
. . . having my shopping done and nothing left to focus on except feeling the Christmas spirit.
. . . my husband coming home from work for the last time and feeling like a newlywed after 20 years of marriage because I get to keep him.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Santa's Mixed Bag

Christmas shopping for my youngest has been unexpectedly complicated for me this year. This is my third time shopping for a 2-year-old boy, so you'd think I'd be up to the task. This is supposed to be the easy age--interests are simple, expectations are low. But I forgot to account for the big-brother factor. The day-to-day reality is that my little one is continually exposed to toys outside the preschool realm. He loves to play Angry Birds (and is quite capable of scoring 3 stars, I might add), watch Dinosaur Planet (we were trying to watch a nice Christmas movie and every commercial break had him exclaiming, "Now dinosaur video!"), race hotwheels cars, and play with our vast collection of wild animals figures. All of which leaves me standing completely befuddled in the toy store trying to choose between toys that seem too babyish and toys that are clearly too sophisticated. I'm seriously considering wrapping up some big brother hand-me-downs and sticking them under the tree. If that doesn't work, there's always Play-doh.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Where's My . . . What?

When children are very young, it is fun to play with them because they are just so adorable about everything. Their pure delight in the smallest discovery is addictively enchanting. The older they become, the less there is of that innocent wonder and the more they become, well, like us. This can be a sad transition, as any mother knows. The magic of babyhood is unmatched.

The good news, though, is that there is an up side to the move from toddler to teen. The games they like to play get, well, cooler. I know, I know, it is hard to beat Duck, Duck, Goose. But when your preteen gets you hooked on Where's My Water?, you'll know what I mean.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Very eBay Christmas

Ah, the magic of the season! There is nothing to match the joy of finding just the right gift for that special someone only to discover that it's just the right gift for many other special someones out there. What to do when that perfect gift is sold out everywhere? Why, head to eBay, of course, where--after the adrenaline rush that can only be found as you watch the final seconds tick by at the end of an auction, setting your bid to that strategic number, timing the entry of that bid that allows the page to load but no one to outbid you--you can pay twice as much for the item as you would have paid for it in the store had you made the decision to buy it just a week sooner. But even after all that, you're going to feel so happy that you will actually feel grateful to the opportunist who bought the item from the store even though they didn't want it (!) for the sole purpose of selling it back to you at an exorbitant profit.

By the way, if anyone sees a green Leappad Explorer in a store somewhere, call me. Ho ho ho!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Learn From Me

Awakenings. It's a compelling and inspiring, though somewhat disturbing, film. To watch these characters whose lives have been stolen by illness miraculously emerge from vegetative states, only to slip away again as the experimental treatment ultimately fails, is a harrowing experience. As Leonard, played by Robert DeNiro, begins regressing, he begs Dr. Sayer, played by Robin Williams, to "Learn from me!" When Dr. Sayer sinks into despair and can't bear to watch the suffering of the man who has become his friend, Leonard insists that he watch him, study him, and film him, in the hope that a solution can be found that will be able to help not just him, but others like him.

This scene jumped to my mind as I read Ashley Sullenger's blog today. I don't know her, but I've followed her blog since her daughter died from an accidental drowning a year and a half ago. There are many women out there who, like Ashley, are bravely opening up about their private struggles to navigate the unthinkable, allowing others to learn from them. I am a better mother and a better person because of these women. I want to thank them and encourage you to check out the blogs in the list to the right.