Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sawyer On: Anatomy

Oh, boy.  This conversation took place when Saw had climbed into bed with me this morning, hence the lack of real answer on my part.  I was asleep, and hoped I was dreaming.

S: Mommy, do you have a penis?
M:  No.
S:  A little one?
M:  No.  I don't have any penis at all.
S:  Do you have a big one?
M:  No.
S:  I think you have a really, really big one.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Jesus, Justice, and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The other night Rob gave me the night off.  I have been slowly burning through a gift card he gave me last year to the movies, usually going by myself to movies I know he won't want to see.  This week, it was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I read the book and found it to be slow, a bit wandering in the plot, and quite disturbing.  I really and truly wondered how it became such a phenomenon.  It really is slow.  I skimmed probably the first 100 pages, and then various sections after that.  Toward the end, it felt like there would never BE an end.  There were several subplots that wanted to be more than sub-plots and so, rather like the last 30 minutes of Return of the King, there was a lot of tidying up in the book and movie.  For real: I fell asleep in the theater.

The answer, of course, to why the book was so compelling and why the movie sits at number three at the box office is Lisbeth Salander.  She is one of those characters that is so vivid and so charismatic that she really does take on a life of her own.  Most of the buzz about the movie before it came out was who would play her and then, when that had been decided, the physical transformation of Rooney Mara to play the part.

I think that it was for Lisbeth Salander I saw the movie, despite the third thing that bothered me about the book, which is the disturbing content.  I'm totally a horror movie buff and could watch gritty crime shows til the cows come home, but The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo went places that were (I felt) darker. Most specifically, I was really unsettled by the torture Lisbeth suffered, and then the vigilante justice she exacted in return.

Which brings me to the odd title of my post.   What DO Jesus, justice, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have in common?

Since I saw the movie, I have been thinking about that scene.  Not in the sense that it's been haunting me, but in more of a philosophical way.   I wondered how people felt about Lisbeth's actions toward the man who victimized her.  (If you read the book, speak up! How'd you feel?)  I find sexual crimes to be so reprehensible.  They take something that cannot be returned and leave invisible marks that cannot be erased.  Think about the idea of an eye for an eye when it comes to something like rape--how can you really exact justice for that kind of crime?  Can you?

I have said before that I think castration or life in prison or maybe even death would be fitting for some sexual crimes.  It is easy for me to say that when I'm removed from the justice process--I can stand back and say, "Let that child predator fry," because I don't KNOW that person.  I am not flipping the switch or prosecuting a case or sitting in the jury box.  If it came into my living room and I was able to plan and execute some kind of vigilante justice, I wouldn't.

But there was something really satisfying about Lisbeth Salander doing so.  Which, in turn, disturbed me. I felt triumphant at how she was able to rise up from being the victim of this man, to free herself from the control he exacted over her life, and maybe even to protect other women from him.  The lengths to which she took her version of eye-for-an-eye...well.

That is what I kept thinking about after seeing the movie.  I wondered what other people thought of this and how, like the other aspects of the book that I thought should have been challenging to a mainstream audience, this particular moment did not turn away the masses.

What I kept coming back to was justice.  What Lisbeth did to her captor went too far.  And yet, audiences are still on her side. We root for her up on the screen and on the pages, though if she were a close friend in real life and we knew what she did, I'm not sure we'd look at her the same way.  We have an inherent desire for justice.  We want to see wrongs righted and people punished, even if not the eye-for-an eye, or vigilante style.  Unsolved crimes,  guilty parties going free or innocent parties being punished--these things outrage us.  We want justice!

C.S. Lewis makes a great case for God based on something like this in his book Mere Christianity.  Lewis makes a lovely, logical argument in the first chapter for what he calls the Law of Nature, wherein all people have a sense of right and wrong.  There are differences in what we consider morality, but these differences do not amount to a total difference, he argues.  This idea is what haunted me for days after seeing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

If you are still reading, this is where I get from a character named Lisbeth Salander to Jesus.  We all long for justice.  Especially in those things that are very clearly WRONG:  rape, murder, theft.  We like to point to those big things, because most of us haven't done them.  And because, no matter what small differences might exist between your neighbor's moral code and yours, they pretty much all include those in the category of WRONG.

If I were to ask you if you were perfect, you would probably say no.  (I don't ask a lot of people, but in those I have asked, no one has ever claimed to be.)  What you might say though is that you're pretty good.  You haven't raped or murdered anyone.  You're doing pretty well.

Now is where I am going to ask some questions.

What about those things that you have done that make you imperfect?  We want justice for murderers.  What about justice for those that stab a friend in the back figuratively?  Or cheat on a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend?  Do the right things you do cancel out those things you do that are wrong?  Would a rapist's good deeds cancel out his wrongs?

Here's the thing.  I believe we have an inherent need for justice because God has created us with one.  The Bible says God is just.  He is also holy and He is also love.  When you put justice, holiness and love together, it creates this kind of equation:  God has a standard of perfection because of His holiness.  Any wrong of ours violates this standard and, because of His justice, cannot go unpunished.  Knowing that we are unable to live up to his standard, God, in his love, satisfied the need for justice by having Jesus die in our place on the cross.  Jesus lived that perfect life that we can't live.  He died that death we deserve on the cross.  Forgiveness for our imperfections and reconciliation with God comes through faith in that work Jesus did.

We would be outraged if there were a God and He were unjust.  We are mad enough when there are cases like Casey Anthony where many believe justice has not been served.  If any judge sat up on a bench and said, "Well, I am loving, so I'll forgive you for what you did," we would riot.  And yet, we often think of our own lives like things can be graded on a curve.  As long as we aren't SO bad, or try to do mostly good things, it will all even out.  We are very gracious when it comes to our own lives, so long as we stay away from what we consider major offenses. We think that if God is love, than He will look past the things we have done.

Think about this for a moment:  the Bible says that there is a God who is perfect and who is just.  And who is so loving that He forgives us, WITHOUT forfeiting justice.  It is really and truly amazing.

I may have fallen asleep during The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I have not stopped thinking about it, because I think it hits on a theme that strikes deep at all our hearts:  the need for justice.  Are you, like Lisbeth, trying to take control of justice and of right and wrong in your life?  Or might you step aside and believe that God has satisfied justice on your behalf through Jesus?

This is a bit longer and deeper than my usual posts.  If you hung with me, you get a gold star.

Gingerbread House Clearance = Icing Everywhere

I found a stack of gingerbread house kits in the back of Walmart for $3 today.  Now, I realize you could buy your own and make your own and blah blah, but the reality is that Christmas is over and I still hadn't done it, so without this ready-made kit, we would not have a gingerbread house.  Now we do.

And it's leaning.

Saw helped me (and really was actually helpful as I put the walls together) before Linc got up from his nap, and then they both decorated the roof.  Somehow I cut too big a hole in the icing bag, so it was almost all gone before we got to decorating the thing.  No matter:  four lines of icing on the roof was about all my boys had as far as decorating goes.  Lincoln mostly ate things, then realized he didn't like them, and spit out gummy, wet mouthfuls.  Gross.  Sawyer did a great job, but kept licking icing off every possible thing.  Believe you me, there were a lot of possible things to lick icing from by the time we were done.
 There were five gumdrops in these chipmunk cheeks.
 Sawyer did a quick, efficient job.  I think only because I told him he couldn't eat any candy until after.

All in all: definitely worth $3.

Bike Riding Fools

Saw got a new bike for Christmas and we're trying to get Lincoln to pick up on the balance bike.  By this time, Sawyer was riding it like a pro, but Linc still shuffles around.  We also, now that there are two boys, haven't given Linc as much one-on-one time or walks around the block with the balance bike.  I, personally, am terrified to take both boys with both bikes around the block without Rob.  I foresee certain death.  Though the cars should really be worried, not me:  Sawyer rammed his first car full-speed this week.  I'm not sure about the car, but Saw was unscathed.

 There was also some dog-chasing.

 This was about 1 second before he hit the neighbor's van.  (Sorry, Richard and Alicia.)  Unfortunately, I didn't capture it.  How I didn't see it coming is beyond me.  This has CRASH written all over it!

On the Horizon: Terrible Twos

I was reading a book recently on parenting that talked about the way that western-raised kids have problems that kids around the world may not have, simply because of our wealth and culture.  I agreed, until the author listed things like the attitude of teenagers and the terrible twos.

Yes, there are manifestations of both those things that are specific to western culture.  But I can bear witness to the fact that something developmentally happens to a child around the age of two, wherein they begin to battle with authority in a very open and defiant way.  I remember wondering if Sawyer would have the terrible twos.  He responded really well to people tell him no and never threw tantrums or cried to get his way (other than bedtime) or many of those behaviors. Then suddenly, two months before he turned two, I said no to something and he threw himself into the floor and began screaming.  It was like a switch flipped.

I wholeheartedly believe that these kinds of periods may look different for every child and every parent, but the kind of challenges that come in the two-through-four ages (because the terrible twos keep going into the threes) and in the teenage years are, I believe, driven by developmental changes.  That doesn't excuse the behaviors or grant special consideration.  Like: "Oh, I'm sorry I said you couldn't have a cookie! I forgot that this is the time in your life where you are experiencing emotional changes and moving into a period where you challenge authority.  This is normal and natural.  Have a cookie."  That would be bad.  That would lead you right to: "Oh, I'm sorry I said you couldn't have a car for your 16th birthday! I forgot that this is a time in your life where all your friends have cars and you want lots of freedom with no responsibility.  Telling me you hate me is part of that process. Let's head to the dealership."

Lincoln is moving right smack into the terrible twos with alarming speed. I like to keep that picture of the angry teenager demanding a car so that I can remember this:  if I don't take discipline and teaching seriously now when they're little, I'm going to be so sorry when they're 16.  Not that doing all the right things now means the teenage years would be easy.  But they would be HARDER if you give in to the demands of your two-year-old. I don't need to have gotten that far yet to know that.

Lincoln likes to say no to things now or will hear us say no, look right at us and do the thing we've said not to do.  Then run away and hide.  It's a phase that I knew would come, and really only goes to show how old my kid is.  They're OLD.  While I look forward to hopefully having another baby sometime soon (ish), I'm glad to have one hand for each boy for the current stages we're in right now.  Rob has taught him to say, "I obey" instead of no, which is super cute.  Sometimes he'll say no, but do the right thing.  Sometimes he'll say "I obey" and then do the wrong thing.

Even as we are moving toward that period of life, I'm thankful for his sweetness, which I don't think will change.  I know that Sawyer, despite his hard days even now, has a gentleness and a sweetness that couldn't be manufactured.  It's wonderful to have those things to cling to in the midst of the hard days and hours and moments.  I know we're headed for hard times, but like Michael Bluth, we're going to head-down, power through.

Sawyer Prayers

Sawyer isn't really into praying much anymore.  He likes when we pray, but he doesn't want to.  Every now and then I'll insist, because I don't want him to give up.  And I also like the randomness that comes with what he prays.  Tonight I insisted, and we had a funny and then really sweet moment.

M: Do you want to pray first or do you want me to?
S: Just you. I don't want to.
M: You start. Just a short prayer.
S: Okay.  In Jesus' name, Amen.
M: [trying not to laugh out loud]
S:  And dear Jesus, please forgive me for not being nice to my brother.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Future Womanizer

Today, Lincoln wanted to play in the tunnel.  He made me climb in one side, then he climbed in the other so we met in the middle.

M:  What do you want to do now?
L:  Kiss.

And he proceeded to plant one on me.  Two year old girls everywhere, BEWARE.  This kid's got game.

To Be Pee or Not to Be Pee

Probably my favorite part of the movie Baby Mama was the one where Tina Fey's sister says something like, "Is that chocolate or poop?"  and then licks whatever it is.  "Chocolate," she says.  While Tina Fey, horrified, says, "But what if it was poop?!"

This morning I had a moment that reminded me of that.  In fact, I have a lot of moments that remind me of that.  But, for the record, I make it a habit NOT to do a taste test with unidentified objects.

I stepped in something wet in my hallway.  I thought, "Huh.  I wonder if that's pee."  Then I thought, "Huh.  Where's my coffee?"

THEN I thought, "Yeah.  I'm a parent."

The Night Pukes

Last night, I meant to go to bed early.  I've been trying to get organized and ready for the new year and all the changes I want to make (more on that later).  This has meant that I've met some goals, like doing at least 10 minutes of yoga a day, but also that I've gone to bed at 2am for two nights in a row.  So last night, I got in bed at a nice, decent 12:30am (okay, it was probably 1am) and almost fell asleep.


Rob and I had a conversation that was very bleary and went something like this.

M:  Is that crying?
R:  [pause] Yes.
M:  Is it Lincoln?
R: No.
M:  It's Sawyer?
R:  Well, if it's not Lincoln...
M:  It just sounds like Lincoln.  But I can't hear because of the fan.
R:  Oh.  Yeah, that's Lincoln.

Then we did rock-paper-scissors and I lost I remembered that Rob let me sleep in that morning, so I got up.   We should really start doing rock-paper-scissors, though.

The thing about throw-up is that you can always smell it before you go in there.  It's like this terrible forewarning that only gets worse when you open the door.  Lincoln sleeps with like 100 blankets and stuffed animals, so it was even worse.  Rob got up and put Linc in the bath while I dealt with the pillows and Bunny and the blankets.  It was gross.  Lincoln kept pointing to it all and saying, "Ew. Gross."  He's a very sharp boy.

We put him back to bed.  Ten minutes later:  more crying.  More puke.

This time I did it alone, and put the new (and last set of) sheets and the few remaining stuffed animals in the wash.  I bathed him again and then grabbed a blanket, put him back in bed and gave him some Pedialyte in a cup.  I figured that might help with dehydration and give him some electrolytes.

Or just more stuff to throw up.

I spent the night until 3 in the floor of his room, running back and forth with Linc to the toilet.  He only threw up like once more, but I taught him to say, "I'm sick," if he was going to throw up.  That worked on that last time, and we mostly didn't get any on the carpet, but then he thought it was cute to say, "I'm sick," and then have me put him in front of the toilet so he could make fake throwing up noises and say, "All done."  It was cute...the first two times.

At 3am, with Lincoln jumping up and down in his bed like it was a trampoline and me trying to sleep in the floor, maybe and maybe not lying on some puke, I tag teamed Rob.  Somehow he got Linc back to sleep.  Thankfully everyone slept til 8am, but man am I dead.  I also kind of smell.

Linc does not actually seem sick and is running around the house like a wild man.  Rob says that last night he gorged on milk right before bed so we think it was a case of TMM--too much milk.  He's eating, drinking, laughing, and dancing, so I have my fingers crossed.  Mommy needs a nap.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Things I Learned Today

1. I am pretty quick and efficient at putting together Legos.

2. I will never be able to correctly put Pez into a Pez dispenser.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Captain Underpants

I've noticed something.  You might have too.  Sawyer is always in his underwear.

I mean, JUST his underwear.

I wasn't sure how this happened.  I mean, he won't sleep in pajamas, so when he first wakes up, he's in his underwear.  But then we get dressed like normal people (not like the savages we really are) and do things outside of the house.  Clothes stay on.  And yet, at home, he is somehow always in underwear.

I've started watching him lately, just to see how this transition takes place.  (The why is a totally different story, and one with no answer.)  Here's how it goes.  We walk in the door.  Within two minutes, Sawyer has stripped off his clothes and left them wherever he happened to be.

It's like he doesn't even notice.  Or do it on purpose.  As he's playing and gathering his toys and whatever else he normally does, he also happens to strip off his shirt and pants.

As I said, I will probably never know the why.  I've asked him, and he doesn't have a reason. In fact, he seems surprised, like, where did my clothes go?

I'm not the kind of person who really cares that he's undressed while home.  When he starts losing his clothes at a friend's house or at the mall, we'll have an issue.  Either we have a future nudist or a little guy who's really confident with his body.  Or maybe he gets hot all the time?  Or has some kind of weird tick? Or just really likes his underwear?  

Daily Disaster: Retro Tetanus Style

This school house lasted from the time I was a kid until a few days ago.  It made it through all the years of me and my brother, but not through Sawyer's "rest time."

Rest time is basically what used to be nap time, and is now a time where he gets into trouble in his room.  The worst part about this is that when he ripped the bottom off, it was attached with NAILS.  Way to go, Fisher Price.  Because he is a boy, Sawyer then stepped on the nail and cut his foot.

Not a bad cut, but Sawyer hasn't had a tetanus shot.  The tetanus shot is found in the DTaP vaccine, which is the one Rob had such a reaction to when he was little. He had to be resuscitated.  When I spoke with the boys' doctor about it, she said that even though the shot has changed, it's valid to be cautious with this one.  I thought that perhaps they would separate the tetanus out, but not until kids are teenagers.  I found this out after waiting almost two hours inside of a CVS for the Minute Clinic on Christmas Eve.  When I realized that they were about to give Saw the DTaP vaccine, I shared the reason we hadn't done it to begin with, and the woman suggested we wait to talk to our doctor.

Who knew a schoolhouse could be so much trouble?

Never Too Soon for a New Year

I love the new year.  Not New Years, which is one of my least favorite holidays. I complain about it every year.  But the idea of a fresh start is so appealing to me.  December is such a month of excess: we eat too much, spend too much, do too much.  It's like that Dave Matthews Band song: just TOO MUCH.

I'm not waiting til the 1st to try and get my life in order.  Last night I stayed up til 2am, making lists on the computer and sort of daily and weekly goals.  Everything from eating to cleaning to how to spend time with the boys.  I want to be more disciplined in every area of my life, and I think organization is the first step.

I was inspired by Money Saving Mom's 2-hour cleaning checklist and tried that this morning. Only...the second part of the list (which is essentially straightening up) took me two hours, not 15 minutes.  I guess I need to tweak the list for our family.  Plus, after Christmas, most homes (I think) look like they were hit by tornados.  After that two hours of cleaning, my house is STILL messy.  But I did like 6 loads of laundry and put most of them away and started the packing-up of Christmas items.  There was progress.  You just can't tell yet.

It's a little early yet, but do any of you have resolutions? Goals? Life changes?

Fires and Stitches and Greed, Oh My!

Last night we had our Christmas exchange with Rob's family, which turned out to be a little more eventful than the celebration with my family.  Not an hour into the festivities, we had a cousin smash into the stack of logs and bust his forehead open. This required a trip to the emergency center and three stitches.  After that great start, we never really recovered.  Dinner somehow was served at like 8pm (we started at 4pm) and no one ate because we were all so full of cream cheese appetizers.

The gift exchange was (as always) a lot of fun and I ended up with a karaoke machine and an atari attachment that lets you play 10 games on your television.  Yes!  I also won the grand prize for the gift I brought, which was a color e-reader I found on super sale at CVS earlier in the year.  Yay for money!  The kids had a great time and it was definitely a memorable night!  Here are some of the photos.
 Lynn made her gum tree, a holiday tradition that happens a few times a  year. The kids love it!

 Linc with the oldest of the cousins, Kevin.  Now a teenager!  Wow, these kids grow fast.

 Braden, raring to go.
 Bryce, planning his route.
 Caleb, listening to Boppy's instructions.

 I love Linc in the back, showing off his abs.  Bye bye, baby belly!

 Saw tramped through the woods while chomping on gum.

 Lincoln got fascinated by his own hand.

 A few of Braden, pre-stitches.

 The real question is:  how was there no accident involved here with fire, lighter fluid, and a lot of males?

 The love of fire starts EARLY.
 Sawyer scaled some hills.
 With a little help from Kevin at the top.

A smores beard--the tastiest beard of all.

Christmas Gift-haps

I meant to do this post before Christmas, but then, I meant to actually get my baking done and gifts sent before Christmas too.  (On a funny note, they are still not mailed. I went to the post office and used the automated thingy only to find out someone put a giant package in the slot and the thing was stuck. Ug!) I made a lot of gifts this year, mostly just for family, so wanted to share a little about what I did and what mishaps I had that you could avoid if you want to try.

A list of what I made:

-peppermint bath bombs
-chocolate peppermint bark
-chocolate bacon bark
-chocolate cranberry almond bark
-sugar cookies
-Christmas crack

I found the little bags in the wedding section of Walmart.  For whatever reason, bags that were sort of fluted were much cheaper: 100 bags for $3.50.  The regular shaped cellophane bags were 20 for $3.40. These were prettier and better for closing off with a ribbon.

For the barks, I melted name brand (just taste better than the off brand) chocolate chips in a regular pan on low. I never use a double broiler, mostly because I don't have one.  Stirring frequently and not walking away from the room keeps the chocolate from burning.  Each bag of chips makes one batch of bark.  I spread out a sheet of wax paper (usually on a baking sheet just to keep chocolate from escaping).  When the chocolate is almost totally melted, I turn off the burner and stir til there are no lumps.  While I tried a few methods of incorporating the different things (bacon, broken candy canes, almonds, cranberries) into the chocolate, I think the best and most consistent way is to add the other things while the chocolate is still in the pan.  Stir there and then spread over the wax paper with a spatula.  I put mine in the freezer to let them harden more quickly.

The best of the bunch was the peppermint bark. The bacon bark was somehow a miss, and the cranberry almond bark...well--I don't like cranberries.  There were on sale.

The sugar cookies (not pictured) were from Paula Deen's recipe--the tastiest and best one to work with, hands down.  I like mine a little thicker and make super thick icing.  Rob helped me ice this year and did a fabulous job.  I sadly only made one batch for the boys' teachers and other workers at their school and never made more like I usually do.

By far the most popular item was the Christmas crack, found via Pinterest.  I used to make something similar but with graham crackers and without the chocolate on top.  I used the matzoh crackers this year and they were seriously good. My brother sent me a text today saying he would pay me to make him more.  THAT good.

The bath bombs were a new experiment.  I found the recipe on Pinterest, and found that it wasn't hard, but definitely required precision.  It was also tough to find the citric acid, and more expensive ($5) than I wanted it to be. I used plastic eggs since I didn't have a spherical mold, and they were too big.  I used a tablespoon to make small ones from the remainder, and those were the best.  Next time, I'd do that.  But I'm not sure there would be a next time--a lot of work for what was a so-so product.  Plus I saw them for super sale the next week, and after spending a long time to make a very few, it seemed like a waste.

Hints for making Christmas gifts:

-Make sure you have all your packaging and shipping things on hand BEFORE you make your gifts.  That way you will actually give them out.  You'll also know how much of everything to make.
-Don't try a recipe for the first time right before your deadline of sending or giving gifts.  Stick with tried and true recipes.
-If it's cheaper to buy than make, BUY.  Keep it simple.
-Start EARLY.  Or prepare to send New Year's gifts like I am.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Fun and Fail

Today was a really nice Christmas.  We had church, which I very much protested, only to listen to our pastor talk about the ridiculousness of NOT being on church today of days--Christmas ON a Sunday.  He's right, of course, but I think there is so much tradition and memory tied up in Christmas and those things clashed with the idea of having to get up and get dressed and get the boys dressed in time for church.  Namely, my parents, bro, and I like to do Christmas in pajamas.  We sit around and eat great breakfast in pjs and open gifts and play Christmas music.  That didn't mesh well with church in my mind. Still, the service was lovely and a great way to really celebrate Christmas.  Then we came home, put on pajamas (maybe that was just me) and opened gifts and ate food.

Here's where the fail comes in:  I baked two things today, and they were both TERRIBLE.  I almost never have kitchen fails.  Yes, I set things on fire and chop off parts of my fingers on a regular basis, but as far as taste, I'm usually fine.  I like to think I have pretty good instincts in the kitchen.  But this morning, in my pre-coffee fog, I added 1/3 cup milk instead of 1 cup milk to the cinnamon roll dough.  This mattered a LOT.  See?
They were barely edible.  This is AFTER baking.  I call them cinnamon rock n' rolls.  If you want the recipe for them (which is GREAT if you measure correctly) you can find it HERE.  When it came time for dinner, we needed more ham biscuits for our Virginia feast (Smithfield ham biscuits and Brunswick stew), I decided to make more biscuits.  Only, we were out of butter, so I used a really weird recipe for them and they turned out flat and crunchy like crackers.  Sigh.  Double fail!

Despite that, it was a lovely day.  Present overload, plus America's Funniest Home Videos on Netflix for some loud laughter.  There's nothing funnier than people falling down and my theory that monkeys are evil was proved in a 40 second clip of monkeys attacking people. Here are some fun photos from the day.
 Almost a perfect Christmas card photo...

 Lincoln tries to steal the show.

 If only Tex would stop licking Linc.

 That'll do, pig.  As good as it gets, I guess?

 We had some fun snuggly time.

 And Linc channeled a reindeer.

 Apparently, when he wears antlers, Linc feels compelled to say "ho ho ho."

 Geoff gave me the finger.

And Linc gave Big Bear a hug.

Tomorrow we'll do the Black Oliphant gift exchange and the gum tree over at Rob's parents' house.  (Rob's mom hangs chewing gum from the actual gum tree.)  Maybe I'll be inspired and skate over again.  Probably not.  It's very wet and gross here.  I think Houston got out of the drought as a Christmas present, so I can't be sad about that!

Merry Christmas to all!  Anyone hitting the stores tomorrow for great sales??

Thing I Have Not Done for Christmas

Oh!  Hello, blog.  I'd almost forgotten about you in the midst of all the things I have not yet done.  Here's a little list for you of things yet to do before TOMORROW.

-buy gifts
-wrap gifts
-write Christmas letters (a new tradition of mine--to my close fam)
-decorate the tree
-send those pesky packages to my family
-get Sawyer a tetanus shot (story on that later)
-clean my house
-water the tree

See? I've been busy!  But don't ask what I've been busy doing, because clearly I have been missing out on some major parts of the holiday season.  Oh--and our van's maintenance required light is on and my phone broke and all of our light bulbs burned out at one time.   Plus it's raining--ick!  I was definitely not dreaming of a wet Christmas.

I am, however, really excited about Christmas tomorrow.  We have a service tonight that is kid-friendly, which means there will be a dull roar throughout.  I love it.  Tomorrow I am making my Christmas cinnamon rolls and my mom is doing her sausage and egg casserole, then Monday we are having the Black Oliphant gift exchange, always exciting.

[Twelve hours later...]

I have now done almost all of those things.  Except write letters, send packages, get Saw a tetanus shot (story on why not later), water and decorate the tree.  Yawn.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just Call Me Princess Dirtball

I am sitting beside a slowly dying fire.  It's been going since about seven, keeping me and my toes warm as I listen to the rain, eat garlic, and simultaneously play computer games and watch a subtitled movie.  (Neither the movie or the game is going well.)  I made this fire, without using a match, from logs I started burning this morning and set aside.  Some of you are thinking, no big deal.  Others may be amazed by my prowess.  I hope that more of you fall into that second category, because I'm going to talk a little bit about fire-making.

I can build a good fire, even if from embers of a fire the night before.  I feel that this is one of my essential skills, like map-reading.  An oddity, but something I could (not really) make a living out of if I needed to.

I learned this from one of my favorite childhood activities: Indian Princesses.  I think they've renamed it Adventure Guides now (if it exists at all), but it was a program through the YMCA whereby dads and daughters went camping.  I'm sure we did other things, but the camping is what I remember.  They are some of my favorite childhood memories.  In Indian Princesses, girls all had a Princess name and the dads had a Brave name. I was Princess Running Eagle and my Dad was Brave Badger.  (I should point out that I realize this is probably all very offensive to Native Americans--which is undoubtedly why the program changed.)  When we went on camping trips, I was typically the last one asleep and the first one awake.  I made it my goal to re-start the fire from the embers the night before.

This is how my name changed to Princess Dirtball.  

I was so proud of my ability to get a roaring fire going at six in the morning that I didn't realize how I looked, all covered in ash.  Apparently, I looked like a little girl covered in dirt and ash.  I didn't care then and I don't care now, still covered in ash, smelling of smoke, and warmed by the fire I made.  Which I think is now leaking smoke into my living room.  Excuse me while I go make sure the flu is still open.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Losses

There's never a good time to lose someone you love.  Period.  But I think during this season, when so many families gather together to celebrate (whether Christmas or another holiday), losing someone is especially difficult.

I just got word that an old friend from high school, Patrick Kelly, is fighting what seems to be a losing battle with brain cancer and something the doctors have yet to identify.  He survived cancer in his 20s only to have it return recently.  He is married and has a two and a half year old daughter.  I cannot imagine spending my Christmas by a hospital bedside rather than here at home baking chocolate bacon bark with my family all around me.

Though we didn't really keep in touch, this news is so heavy.  His wife has organized a prayer vigil for him online, which is already full.  People from all over the world and from different backgrounds are lifting up Patrick right now.  Save a miracle, it sounds like his time is passing very quickly.  If you want to pray for Patrick or read more of his story, you can click HERE to find his site.

I am so thankful for Lynn's recent good news, and will be hoping and praying for Patrick's family to welcome good news through a miracle of God this Christmas week.

Double Ear Infection All Across the Sky

Not quite as catchy as double rainbow, but infinitely more painful.  Linc got a fever Monday, the perked up yesterday until post-nap time.  Poor little dude woke up crying and cried for like half an hour straight (maybe the record for his whole life) and kept saying, "No!  Owie!"  The doctor worked us in and my first guess was correct:  double-ear infection.  I think Saw probably had one last week, but he never got to the point where it seemed sure, it was just suspicion.  The doctor looked at poor Linc and said, "Yup, this one's bad.  OH.  This one's worse."

He's happily on antibiotics and seems to feel much better.  While my boys are healthier and happier than most kids I know, I feel like we have taken up residence at the pediatrician's office lately.  Such is winter with small kids, I guess. I have friends whose whole families have pneumonia or the stomach flu, and so I feel very grateful to have one kid sick with something non-contagious and fixed by delicious medicine.  (No, I haven't tried it, but remember it from childhood. It's yummy.  Sawyer keeps trying to steal it.)

So, anyone else get sickness for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December in Numbers

Numbers of:

Nights I've gone to sleep after 1am: 12
Sticks of butter I've used: 16
Bags of chocolate chips I've bought: 6
Boys who've been sick: 2
Weeks we've been on amoiocillin: 3
Packages I still need to mail: 4
Presents I still need to buy: 20
Boxes of matzoh I've eaten: 1
Times I've vowed to stop eating junk tomorrow: 19
Parking tickets I've gotten: 1
Cups of coffee I've drunk: (roughly) 120

Circus or Olympics

Those are pretty much the best options for my boys and career paths.



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