Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Things to love about Christmas

There are lots of things that I loved about this Christmas. 

 I loved Ashlynn's second grade Christmas program, and seeing her absolutely giddy to show off for Mom and Dad.
 Apparently, my seven year old already has lots of admirerers.  The little boy next to her, making googly eyes at her, has been writing her love notes almost every day.  They are in second grade people!   So not funny.
I loved our Christmas tree.  Originally I didn't.  Our only matching ornaments were, unfortunately, glass. They, of course, got broken approximately 2.3 minutes after the Christmas tree was decorated when Max decided to see how stable the tree was by pulling it over on his head.  Our tree was covered in every kind of ornament imaginable, collected since I was a teenager.  We have more handprint reindeer and preschool wreaths than we know what to do with.  Plus, the ornaments were continually rearranged not only by two girls who are wanna-be Christmas tree designers, but also by a toddler who was determined that the football ornaments on the tree were for kicking, not for looking at. At one point this season, I wanted to scrap the whole thing and get a tree with matching decorations that actually looked decent.  Then, gradually, I realized it was really a metaphor for our lives.  A little messy and disorganized?  Yes.  Did the kids love it?  Yes.  They probably loved it even more than they would have loved a designer, everything color-coordinated tree because they got to help.  So yeah, we'll keep the mismatched tree and the kindergarten ornaments.

 I love the treats at Christmas time.  I love that people randomly ring your doorbell and bring you plates of homemade goodies.  I may or my not be devouring nibbling on some of the best homemade caramels I've ever tasted right now.  I love that both my children shown in this picture were eating candy out of their Christmas stocking as breakfast.  It's Christmas, what can you say?  And Max's crazy bed-head hair is just a bonus.  You're welcome.
 I loved watching my two year old admiring the presents, and placing his brand new basketball ornament on the tree.  He was very proud of himself. 
 I loved watching my kids' excitement on Christmas morning.  The shriek that we heard when the girls went downstairs and discovered that not only had Santa come, but they were most definitely not on the naughty list made both of us laugh out loud.  And there's nothing quite like the "I got exactly what I wanted!" smile. 
 I love oddly wrapped presents, and the way it takes the two year old forever to open them, much to his sisters' dismay.  This one was a new Nerf football, complete with a kicking tee for our budding athlete. 
 I love new Christmas outifts, and the little boy who is so excited about his new vest that he demanded to put it on over his pajamas, and threw a screaming fit when it was time to take it off for breakfast.
And I especially love the cuddly new baby, who was completely oblivious to the Christmas celebration going on around him, and slept happily on Dad's chest through the whole thing. 

What were your favorite parts of Christmas?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Newborn Love

I'm still working on Ian's birth story.  Ok, fine.  I'm not.  I'm still working on processing Ian's birth, with every intent to write a coherent birth story any day now.  In the meantime, I'm hooking you up with some adorable pictures of what may very well be the cutest baby in the world for you to gaze at while you wait.
 This became the centerpiece of our Christmas cards with the caption "Look what Santa brought us for Christmas!"  Yes, I did Christmas cards for the very first time in my adult life this year.  I felt unreasonably proud of myself when I dropped them off at the post office today.
 I love newborns.  I love the way they curl up into a ball, the way they fall asleep on your chest, their little grunts and squeaks,
 and their little tiny flutter smiles.
This one is my favorite. 

I'm so thrilled we were able to get these pictures done.  While my babies start out small, they don't stay that way for very long.  Ian is probably pushing 9.5-10lbs, has an adorable double chin, round ultra-kissable cheeks, has lost all trace of his scrawny little chicken legs, and actually has started fitting into his newborn clothes.  It's bittersweet I tell ya.  So glad to have his tiny adorableness on film.

And while I would give most of my non-vital organs for a good nights' sleep or even a decent nap, Ian is our last baby, and I'm doing my best to savor each little grunt, squirm, and nap on my chest. 

Photography by Scott Wilhite- aren't they great?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Instruments of torture

Today, my third grader came running in the door from school, literally bouncing up and down with excitement.

"Mom!  MOM!  Guess what I got at school today?"  She proudly showed me one of these little gems.

I tried to mask my lack of enthusiasm. 
"That's great, honey, why don't you-"

At that point, I was interrupted by a screech somewhere between a shrieking whale and a dying clarinet.

"I learned the note 'c' today, Mom, listen!"

More dying animals.  Dogs in the neighborhood started howling.

(Now, let me reassure you at this point that I am in no way making fun of my daughter's lack of musical abilities.  On the contrary, today we had a very productive practice session working on the Vivaldi concerto in g minor.  What I am saying is that if you can find me someone that can make a $1.25 plastic, made in China recorder sound like something even remotely pleasant or musical, I'll play the darn thing in the 3rd grade program myself!)

"And Mom!"

I gulped, certain I didn't want to hear what was coming next.

"My teacher says I need to practice every day!  I guess I have another instrument to practice in the morning, right?"

Yeah, because violin scales at 7:00 am aren't enough.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Official Top 10 Crappiest Christmas Songs of All Time

This is a re-post from last year, but I was inspired to bring it out after hearing two of these songs in a row on the radio this morning.  Plus, it was written last year, when I was free from crazy, creativity-stealing pregnancy and/or breastfeeding hormones.  Enjoy!

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.

10. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus OK, seriously. Think about the lyrics of this song. Isn't it just a bit disturbing? What about poor Mrs. Claus? 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 Claus 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 been 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 7, 2010

Aiming High

So if I finish out the day today with all four of my kids, myself and my husband still alive, and with our house still standing, it counts as a major achievement, right?

Let's be honest here. Today, this whole motherhood thing is kicking my butt.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reasons I'm a superhero

Yesterday was a disaster, plain and simple. 

You see, I thought I had this adjustment to four kids thing down pat.  Had no idea what everyone was complaining about. 

Don't you hate eating your words?

Yes, yesterday rivaled the first day I was left home alone with my two girls and my husband came home to find the kitchen covered in blood, the baby's bedroom covered in poop, and all three of us in the rocking chair together crying. 

To be fair, so far, things have gone remarkably well.  Everyone has been fed regularly, we've changed approximately a hundred diapers a day without incident, and there hasn't been any major blood shed.

But yesterday, oh, yesterday.

Enter a night of little to no sleep, a very bored toddler, a baby who, after a week, found his voice, two older girls who had a chronic inability to listen or follow through with what they were asked to do, a mom who decided that night was the perfect night to start cooking for her family again, and a husband who texted at 5:30 to say he was going to be late, and no, he didn't know when he was going to be home, and the result is me, wanting to alternately tear my hair out and sob, and wondering who it was that thought parenting four kids was such a wise idea. 

So, in that spirit, I've decided I need to lower my expectations a bit in an effort to stay functional and try to ward off the postpartum emotional wreckage, I present to you my reasons why I'm a superhero.  Feel free to play along and add your own.

** I've showered every day since I came home from the hospital.

** I've put on real clothes- including my pre-pregnancy jeans!- for the last three days.

** Yesterday, I actually took both kids to the library storytime.  Granted, it took nearly an hour to get everyone out the door, and by the time we got home, I felt like I had run a marathon, but at least we got out of the house!

** Naps.  Aaaah, naps.  I've had one every day this week.  Turns out getting both kids to sleep at the same time isn't as hard as I thought it would be.  (Yes, I just knocked on wood...)

** While my house still looks somewhat like a bomb exploded, I did manage to fold a load of laundry yesterday.

There, see?  If doing that puny list of things makes me a superhero, it probably makes you look like the 8th wonder of the known universe!  You're welcome.  Consider it my public service for the day.

And now, for some gratuitous Ian newborn cuteness.

His little outfit reads "Don't let my size fool you."  Indeed.

Alright, I'm off to don my superhero cape and see if I can rustle up something remotely edible for my family for dinner.  And change another few diapers. 
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