Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Raising Girls and Raising Heathens

A few years ago, Tom and I bought the girls a very fancy wooden dollhouse with what seems like a million tiny pieces of wooden furniture envisioning the hours of happy, imaginative, loving play the girls would enjoy. Just yesterday, Abby and Ashlynn spent a good half hour arranging and rearranging the furniture in just the perfect spots. 

Enter Max.  In the time it took me to fold and put away one load of laundry, (Yes, I do fold and put my laundry away occasionally!  Stop looking so shocked...)  all 57 pieces of tiny dollhouse furniture, along with 13 alphabet blocks, the tv remote control, 2 Barbies and a Woody Doll had all been chucked down the stairs while the little boy laughed hysterically.  As an extra bonus, some of the toys appeared to have had a toilet water bath before their flight down the stairs. 

I maintain that those who say the difference between heathens boys and girls isn't inborn have never had one of each.

I also maintain that it might be time to reinforce door closing policies with the girls.



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Surgery? What Surgery?

My heart skipped yesterday when the phone rang and the caller ID showed someone from Max's surgeon's office was calling.  I've been living in denial for a while now, and its not such a bad place to be.  The conversation went something like this:

Nurse: "Yes, is this Max's mom?"
Me: "Yes?" (Should be interpreted as "Why in the world are you calling me?  This can't possibly be good...")
Nurse: "I'm calling because our former scheduler is no longer with us and I'm a little confused about Maxwell.  (This somehow, does not inspire a great deal of confidence in my surgeon or his office.  I'm a little funny that way...) Are we supposed to be scheduling a surgery date for him?"

At this point, I had an overwhelming urge to say something along the lines of "What surgery?  Who is this?  I have no idea what you're talking about!" and then take the baby boy and catch the next flight to somewhere warm, tropical and baby proof.

Instead I told her (very nicely and without a trace of sarcasm or irony) that we did, in fact, already have a surgery date scheduled on March 4th.

After 24 hours, six phone calls, and a small temper tantrum on my part when the wanted to push the surgery back to May, we now have a new surgery date on March 25th.  Apparently, its very difficult to get a neurosurgeon and a craniofacial surgeon in the same OR.  Who knew.  Maybe we're not paying them enough? 

Or maybe Max and I need to head for that tropical island.

Yeah, I'm in denial.  I kind of like it here.  I think I'll stay awhile.  Pass one of those fruity drinks, would ya?

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Obligatory Christmas Post

In which I show you a whole bunch of pictures from the weekend of Christmas, and you tell me how cute we all are...


Abby's Christmas Concert at Abravenel Hall

This is what happen you let the 1-year old play with your glasses.


What's better than a new blanket?

Maybe Uncle Kevin playing with Jell-o?

Or, new BYU Cougars footie pajamas!




Or maybe we don't need a sled- we'll just roll down the hill!

Get ready, get set!

Piles of presents.

What is it?

This is what happens when you have two sisters.  And lots of present decorations.


Get them off!
Who needs presents?  I got a box!

You may now proceed to stroke me ego by telling me how cute we all are.  Ready, set, go!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ten Annoyances of Christmas



I love Christmas, I really do.  But there always seems to be just enough holiday craziness to make me rethink the wisdom of venturing out from under my covers.  Especially, here, two days before Christmas where everything feels frantic and rushed instead of peaceful and holy. Maybe it's just me, and maybe everyone else lives in a state of kids in perfectly coordinated outfits, Christmas cards early, and presents wrapped, packages mailed, and houses perfectly decorated without breaking a sweat or uttering a single curse.  For the rest of us, I've compiled this (completely toungue in cheek) list of things that make me want to rip my hair out right about now: 

1- Guilt.  Ahhhh, there's a healthy helping of guilt to be found around every corner.  There's always this nagging little thought in my head about how our traditions aren't as cool as my neighbors, or that one child has more presents than the other and even though we spent equal amounts of money, they won't see it that way because as we all know, its about the sheer number of presents.  Or there's the guilt that we haven't made gingerbread houses, sugar cookies, or 59 plates of goodies to take to the neighbors.  Or that I didn't make the perfect handmade gift for the girls' teachers, violin teacher, gymnastics teacher, church teachers etc.  Ahhh, guilt. 

2- Christmas shopping, especially in stores that may or may not end in "Mart."   Against my better judgement, my husband and I took our three children to a store ending in "Mart" last Saturday.  Yes, it was the Saturday before Christmas.  Yes, there was elbow throwing involved.  And yes, I succumbed to the "-Mart" stereotype that had me yelling "You get over here right now before I decide to take all your Christmas presents back to the store" at my kids just to fit in with all the other moms.  But the crowning moment of the visit came when we left and a greeter wearing a surgical mask tried to shake our hands as we left.  "Thanks for shopping at '-Mart,' here's your influenza, now have a nice day." 

3- Children on Sugar Highs.  Our ward party was on Saturday night, and my two girls consumed roughly their weight in cupcakes, fudge, marshmellow brownies, and the mysterious ubiquitous orange Mormon punch that manages to show up at every gathering involving more than two families.  After the party, the girls were filled with enough manic energy to power several third world countries.  I made the mistake of taking them both to the grocery store afterwards, where I had to threaten them once again with the return of all Christmas presents remind them  politely that crawling around the floor of the produce department and barking like dogs was not appropriate behavior.  I proved myself to be equally intolerant when I told them they couldn't like the van windows clean from the inside.  I spent the rest of the night vowing that my children will eat nothing but carrot sticks and kefir for the remainder of December.

4- Christmas Packaging.  Seriously.  Have you ever tried to open your average Barbie?  (Yes, I let my girls play with Barbies.  Not only that, but they were Disney Princess Barbies, otherwise known as the root of all evil.  Yet one more reason why my membership in the crunchy club is in danger....)  You need a screwdriver, a machete, a blow torch, and a very large first aid kit just to free Barbie from her packaging.   What do the toy manufacturers think is going to happen if they don't strap Barbie down in 372 places?  Does she have a habit of escaping her box when no one is looking and having a hot, steamy love affair with GI Joe?

5- Christmas Cards  I've loved getting mail since I was a little kid.  And I love getting Christmas cards, even the cheesy "here's everything we've done every minute of the past year" kind of Christmas letters.  But somehow, I've never managed to get them sent out myself. Every year, I have the best of intentions. I have even gone so far as to buy packages of cards. But then I worry that store bought cards aren't personal enough, and we would need to include a photo, so then I have to browse through photography websites, worry about coordinating outfits for family pictures, and stress about finding the perfect location for pictures. Then I have to start making lists of people to send Christmas cards to, and start collecting addresses. And forget about the annual Christmas letter detailing how wonderful and charming and perfectly behaved their children is and how if it weren't for that one glass they broke on May 13th, they would be crowned officially perfect. Nope. If I were to write a Christmas letter, it would probably list all the reasons we spent 2009 in the hospital, and the 2000 ways my kids conspired to check into the proverbial padded room. Its always right about then that I start feeling tired and overwhelmed, and want nothing more than to crawl back in my bed with a healthy helping of fudge because once again I'm the bad mom/sister/friend/long lost roommate from college/cousin/person you met fifteen years ago that has nothing better to do than send out Christmas letters detailing how wonderful their family is to everyone that they have ever met. No, I don't send out Christmas cards. Yes, I feel guilty about it. Yes, I am saving up for my children's future therapy bills.

6- Class Parties With No Notice  Picture this: you've just done a weeks' worth of grocery shopping in a grocery store so crowded that merely walking down an aisle started to feel like a viscious game of bumper cars.  You way overspend your grocery budget, and as your unpacking you notice at least 3 random things in the bags that you never buy (adult incontinence products, blue cheese salad dressing, and a king-sized package of mentos) that the baby must have thrown in your cart while you were trying to convince the old lady whose toe you ran over with your shopping cart that it was an accident.  Just then, your 8 year old comes running up the stairs to announce frantically that her class is decorating sugar cookies at the class party tomorrow and she has to bring sprinkles for the cookies or else she'll die.   You briefly consider your options for a moment, before rummaging though your spice cabinet, trying to convince the eight year old that minced garlic and paprika do too look like red and white sprinkles.

7- The Christmas Cold  It happens every year.  Just when you're the busiest, running from place to place like a woman obsessed, one of your children will spike an insanely high fever, prompting a night with no sleep, a trip to the doctor's office and several rounds of various pink liquid antibiotics.  You get bonus points for double ear infections, anything that is rare, provokes cases of hives, causes your baby to go through five outfits in one day due to a vicious case of diarrhea, or any illness that involves the word "swine."

8- The Big Buckets of Christmas Popcorn  Does anyone really eat this stuff?  Yet rarely do I run across a house that hasn't been blessed with at least one container full of 3 year old, stale, caramel, cheese, and plain popcorn.  I think these popcorn bits rival Nerds candy in their ability to cover your house, car, and many small children in approximately 4.2 seconds.

9- The Present Wrapping: It happens every time.  You have a few minutes to yourself and think that you will sit down and innocently wrap a present or two.  Problem is, wrapping two presents = 4 tubes of mismatched wrapping paper, two empty rolls of tape, a pair of scissors so dull they wouldn't cut wrapping paper if you paid them $20, 593 feet of multi-colored curling ribbon that never surls the way you want it to, and various shapes, sizes and colors of bows, all spread around your living room.  No idea how wrapping stuff manages to take up the living room so quickly, but I would gladly pay the presents to wrap themselves.  And hey, while they're at it, maybe the presents can convince the laundry to fold itself too.

10- The Christmas Cleanout  Am I the only one that does this?  Approximately two days before Christmas, (yes that's today...) I get a little crazy thinking about how messy the house is, and how crowded my kids' drawers are, and how there's a millions stuffed animals that heven't been touched in years, and how in two days we're going to be opening toys and presents and where are we going to put everything!  So then, because I'm deranged and the kids are out of school, I decide it would be a good day to clean out the girls' dressers.  And closets.  And toyboxes.  And under the bed.   And two hours and several bags of trash later, I'm ready to give all their presents to those mysterious children that keep their rooms clean without asking because they will obviously appreciate those presents.

Sigh.  Alright, I'm off.  Must try to find some Christmas spirit somewhere.  Possibly in a can of Diet Coke and a pan of fudge.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cards

We're not doing Christmas cards.  Its December the 22nd, and I don't think there's any point in deluding myself anymore.  Its just not gonna happen.  I'm still holding out hope for New Year's cards, but I'm not hodling my breath.  In the mean time, consider this your Christmas card from the Smith family.  Merry Christmas!


Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Might Spend a Little Too Much Time on Facebook

My resolution for next year is to write cooler status updates.  Why not make a resolution I can stick to?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sometimes We Wonder


Sometime we wonder if anything we say gets through to our beautiful, talented, somewhat airheaded eight year old daughter. This is an actual conversation that took place at my house.  Names have not been changed to protect incriminate the guilty.  

Mom: Abby, it's time to take a shower.

Abby: But Mooooooooooooom, (insert whine, eye roll and foot stomp here,) I just took a shower yesterday.  Why do I have to take another one?

Mom: (Insert sigh.  We have this discussion every. single. night.) Because Abby, you stink.  You're dirty.  You need to go get clean.

Abby: But I hate showers.  How can I stink?  I just took a shower.  I hate showers.  (Insert teary eyes.)

Mom:  (Tired of aruguing)  Abby, go take a shower.

Abby stomps up the stairs, dawdles in her room, turns on the water, dances naked in front of her mirror, waits five minutes for it to "heat up" and then finally takes the torturous shower, all the time singing awful second-grade Christmas songs at the top of her lungs.  The water turns off, and Abby comes down the stairs, stark naked and shivering.

Abby: Mom, do I have to put on clean underwear?

Mom: (exasperated...) Yes, of course you do Abby.

Abby: But I just put on clean underwear yesterday! 

Mom: (proceeds to bang head against the wall...)

Just tell me that she'll eventually grow up to be a productive, showered, non-stinky, clean underwear-wearing member of society someday, please!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Top 10 Crappiest Christmas Songs of All Time


This time of year is famous for lists such as "The best and worst movies of 2010."or "The top 10 reasons the Smith Family ended up in the hospital in 2010."  In the spirit of the season, I present to you the:

Official Top 10 Crappiest Christmas Songs of All Time.

Aren't you excited?  You should be.  It not every day that songs this terrible combine to form a calculated assualt on your eardrums and intelligence.  Read and Listen at your own risk.  I refuse to be held responsible for terrible songs that may or may not get stuck in your head until next April.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

10.  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause  OK, seriously.  Think about the lyrics of this song. Isn't it just a bit disturbing?  What about poor Mrs. Clause? She spends all year helping in the workshop, feeding and cleaning up after all those elves, nagging Santa about getting all the toys done by deadline, no love, no recognition, no one writes songs about her or writes her letters and here she gets rewarded by Santa sliding down the chimney and kissing the first tramp that comes along.  And if this kid's dad finds out, I highly doubt he'll think its a laugh. I'm betting money that next year, the dad lights a fire in the fireplace on Christmas Eve.  Oh, and just for fun, I've linked this to the Amy Winehouse version of this catchy little tune.  Because that's the only way to make this song more painful to listen to.

9.  Santa Clause got Stuck in My Chimney  OK, the idea behind the song is a valid one.  After all, how likely is it that a fat man in a red suit would be able to slide down all those chimneys without getting stuck?  But just take a little listen to the excruciating melody, and tell me you're not going to be singing it incessantly until St Patrick's Day.

8.  Jingle Bells as sung (barked?) by a pack of dogs  I have a very large dog.  She barks.  A lot.  Loudly.  Yes, we're the bad neighbors with the barking dog that everyone hates.  I can't count the number of times that I've threatened to kill the dog when she starts barking and wakes the baby that just took everything short of a head stand to get to sleep. Let me clarify though: she' my husband's dog.  There's very little love lost between the two of us. So why in the name of Christmas Music would anyone want to listen to Jingle Bells barked by dogs?  And who has the kind of time that it took to put this together.  Send them my way.  I've got some toilets that could use scrubbing, and a refrigerator that stinks.

7. That terrible "Christmastime" Song on the Peanuts Christmas Movie  Don't get me wrong.  I have nothing against Charlie Brown, Lucy or even Pigpen.  I watched the Charlie Brown movies religiously like every other kid my age.  But this song! Not only is it screechy, whiny, and unitelligable, but it incredibly out of tune.  I'm a violin teacher.  I spend all day cringing at notes so bad that they would make Beethoven himself weep so I can't for the life of me figure out how anyone who calls themself a musician would ever put this song on the radio.

6.  Feliz Navidad  Now before you start getting all uptight and throwing your Christmas fruitcake at me, I have nothing against Christmas songs in another language.  But the only thing that's more annoying than a song getting stuck in your head for hours days is having that song stuck in your head when you know only an approximation of the words.  It usually sounds something like this, especially when its being screamed sung by the two girls in the back seat of my van: "Feliz Navidad,! Feliz Navidad! Feliz Navidad, prospberlahig blah blah blah blah blah blah."  See, I have you singing it now don't I.  I have myself singing it now too.  Stupid Song.  For Bonus Christmas Spirit, the link has Elmo singing.  Don't say I don't love you.

5.  Mele Kalikimaka  Yeah.  See above.  Only this time it has Hawaiian words.  Which wouldn't be so bad if I lived in say, Hawaii instead of in samll town Utah where it was a balmy -5 degrees when I took my kids to school this morning.  I think my nose hairs might have frozen, and I still don't think the baby has forgiven me for making him wear a hat.  But, I digress. The only redeeming virtue of this song is that its featured on "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," which as any living, breathing human being can tell you is the best Christmas movie ever, but I still fast forward when this song comes on.

4.  Christmas Shoes I may be forever cementing my place in the heartless hall of fame for this one, but I can't help but find this song nauseating.  I just can't stand songs that are written to purposely manipulate people  into crying.  It has the opposite effect on me- it makes me wonder why in the world a little boy is wandering around in stores by himself buying shoes. What his mom probably needs and wants most is to have all her family around her at Christmas.  I know, I know.  I'm a heartless cynic and you're getting ready to throw things at me.  Okay fine.  Just make sure you throw fudge.  And peanut brittle.  Keep the fruitcake and those weird powdery white chookies to yourself. 

3.  Twelve Days of Christmas  Once again, I'm being the cynic.  But if I had a true love that sent me approximately 7422 birds and 943 random people dressed up as maids milking, lords leaping, drummers drumming, pipers piping, ladies dancing et al, I'd be seriously rethinking our relationship.  But I'd keep all those gold rings and taking them to one of those "We Buy Gold" places and buying myself a vacation to Hawaii.  I'll even sing "Mele Kalikimaka" while I'm there.

2. Little Drummer Boy  Don't even know what to say about this one, other than I wouldn't be sad if I never heard another "PaRumPumPumPum."  And have you ever noticed that even when girls sing this, they're still a "poor boy too?"  I don't know about you, but if I had jut had a baby, the last thing I would want is for some random kid to come and start banging a drum.  Although I have to give props to the people who had the time and the brains to put together the youtube video for this song.  It actually makes it kind of funny in a weird sort of way.

And now the moment you've all bee waiting for....

Drum Roll Please........

The winner in this year's Crappiest Christmas Song contest is :


1.  The Merry Christmas Polka  What?  You've never heard the "Merry Christmas Polka?"  Yeah, there's a reason for that.  Like the fact that if this song was any more annoying it would have to not only come with a warning label stating that listening to it might just make the listener repeatedly try to scratch his or her eyes out, but its a polka for cryin' out loud.  Could there be any worse form of dance?  This came on the radio the other day while I was driving the canyon with my violinist, and she proclaimed that it was "embarassing."  There ya go.  It doesn't get much worse to an eight year old than embarassing.

So there you have it.  Aren't you glad you decided to stop by today?  I thought so.  Happy ParumPumPumPum-ing and Merry Christmas Polka-ing in your new Christmas shoes, and Feliz Kalikimaka and all that.  Arguments?  Any others that I've missed?  Which song makes you mute the radio faster that you can say "Ho Ho Ho"?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow

There is snow at my house.  Lots and lots of snow.  Theoretically, this shouldn't surprise me seeing as I live in the mountains in the state where they once held the Winter Olympics.  In fact, one of the event sites from the Olympic Games is a ten minute drive from my house.   Still, there is an obscene amount of the cold, white stuff.


Ok fine.  I didn't take that picture.  But you're not gonna get a picture of the snow at my house, because it's too stinking cold for me to go out and take a picture of it!

But I'm not going to blog about snow and complain about it like all those other wimps.  Nope.  Not going to blog about how I woke up at an ungodly hour yesterday morning to find snow everywhere and my husband having just come in from shoveling.  Now normally, the husband out shoveling would be a good thing.  Until you add that to your eight year old standing in front of the fridge announcing "Mom.  Mom!  MOM!!!  We have no milk.  And no bread.  And no eggs.  And no waffles."   And then my husband started laughing and said, "Well, you can finish shoveling or you can go to the store."  I tried to convince them that ramen noodles were an acceptable and healthy breakfast.  No go.  Similar result when I suggested scooping peanut butter out of the jar.  (Hey, it has protein, right?)

So I'm not going to blog about how I had to drive through the Antarctic to the store in my pajamas before 7am so that my family could have breakfast.  And I'm definitely not going to talk about how I almost threw my back out and got frostbite on four fingers in the two minutes it took me to load two ginormous bags of ice melt in the van.  And its a total secret that the snow that got in my van yesterday when I was loading said bags of ice melt is still in my van, unmelted.

And I would never dream of venting about how much I hate all the clothes that go with winter and kids.  In the summer, all you have to do is find two flip flops.  They don't even have to match. But in the winter you have socks, snow boots, snow pants, gloves, coats, scarves, and hats.  Do you realize how many possible combinations and possibilities there are for "MOM!  I can't find my _______!"  in the winter?  And how long it takes to get the heathens children dressed to go outside? But I'm not going to tell you how many times in the past 36 hours I've had to say "No snowboots on the carpet!" or "Wherever you put them is where they are.  If you would take care of your things you would know where to find them!"  (Sigh.  There's nothing like repeating things your mom said verbatim to make you feel old.)

Nope.  Not blogging about any of that.  As far as you all are concerned, there's nothing I like better than driving my van down the luge run known as Parley's Canyon at 7am for a violin lesson. 

Let it snow.  Or not.  (Preferably not...)

Monday, December 7, 2009

It took just nine minutes...



There I was, innocently blow drying my hair when the phone rang. I went to answer it. Barely ten minutes later, this was the disaster I found waiting for me in the bathroom.

Yes, Max is wearing toilet paper as a necklace, and has a small piece hanging out of his mouth. And yes, there is a snowstorm of toilet paper in all the other rooms upstairs as well. And yes, he did immediately empty a box of tampons out just after I took this picture while I was cleaning up the toilet paper.

You know, if I could just get my baby boy to harness his energy for good. Surely, if we could, he could come up with a plan for universal health care that wouldn't cost anyone a dime and bring peace to the Middle East, all in the time it takes me to answer the phone.

Now, if you'll pardon me. I'm smelling another mess I need to clean up....

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Beginning to Sound A Lot Like Christmas

video

For me, the best part of being a musician is Christmas Music. As a senior in High School, I was in something like seven different performing groups, all with their different performing schedule. I remember counting them up and realizing I had twenty-one performances in the space of seventeen days, and spent all of December running from one performance to the next. I kept two or three different uniforms in my car at all times, and I vividly remember changing from my red, white and black Jordan Symphony Orchestra tuxedo uniform into my black and white madrigal jumpsuit while driving madly through the streets of downtown Salt Lake City.

I have many amazing Christmas music memories: playing with the youth symphony at the Festival of Trees Opening, running from ward party to ward party with the Madrigals, playing Leroy Anderson's "A Christmas Festival" so many times that I think I could still play it without music.

My favorite Christmas music ritual was Bingham High's annual "Candlelight" concert. As a young child, I would come to the concert, listen to the bell choir, see all the performers lit with candlelight, and anxiously look forward to participating in the concert myself. As a performer, Candlelight was a crazy, chaotic mess of uniform changes and running from place to place, hoping desperately that my violin wouldn't get stepped on and that I would remember the Madrigals choreography steps! The evening culminated with the orchestras, choirs, and alumni combining for one huge rendition of the"Hallelujah Chorus." It may not have been the most-rehearsed performance, but it was always the most crowning musical moment of Christmas. The concert is still performed every year, but I have never gone back. Somehow, I don't want the memories I have of that concert to be changed by the way it is now. (Because of course, the concert couldn't possibly be as good now as it was when I was in High School. Don't be silly!)

Now that I'm a mom and have a little violinist of my own, the reward for the endless hours of practicing comes in watching my daughter take part in the Christmas performing rituals. The first concert of the Christmas season is always the "Festival of Trees" and though its been over ten years since I last performed there, watching Abby's violin group still feels exactly the same. Getting there yesterday was a crazy chaotic mess all of its own- the baby had an ear infection and cried all the way to Salt Lake, I left my debit card in the ATM machine, and we rushed in the room with less than two minutes to spare. (Not to mention the fact that said violinist daughter wandered off and got completely lost after the concert, but we won't talk about that...) Even still, watching the little violinists perform on stage brought back a nostalgia I haven't felt in years and left me hoping that someday, my kids will be able to know the joy that is being a musician during the holidays.
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