Sunday, December 25, 2011

Some cookies, some carols, and a little breaking and entering...

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We had it all figured out. My husband had to work Christmas Eve, so we did all the Santa's helper stuff the night before. It was a long night. As it came to a close, we realized the newly assembled mass of gifts would not fit back into the nook in which they were previously hiding. Panic. After debating the options, we decided to put the pile in the guest bedroom and lock the door. If the children asked, we would say that we were keeping that room kid-free and clean in preparation for the guests that are coming this week. (Yay! Friends!)

Relieved, we finished up and put everything in the guest room. It was then we realized that the lock was one of the few that doesn't have a key to open it. Panic, again. My half-functioning brain remembered that I had successfully picked a similar lock when my daughter accidentally sealed off her room a few months back. I grabbed a mini screwdriver and practiced unlocking it. After a few tries, I had it down. All was good.

The next day, Christmas Eve, everything went smoothly. The children filed into their rooms uncharacteristically early and I patiently waited for them to drop off to sleep. They never did notice that the guest room was locked. Two hours after they went to their rooms, it was time to set everything out. I naively thought that this was the year I would get a decent amount of sleep. It wasn't even 11 yet, and I had only a few presents to wrap. I spent most of the time getting the food and stockings ready.

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When it came time to actually set the gifts out I grabbed my thin screwdriver, checked once more to make sure everyone was still asleep upstairs, and proceeded to pick the lock.

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At least, I tried to pick the lock. The lock was sticking. I started to get frustrated. I poked and turned harder — nothing. My little screwdriver was bent. I worked on opening that lock for a good 45 minutes, refusing to believe that the presents were inaccessible. My fingers hurt and turned purple, precious time was slipping away, and I knew that I had to go with plan B.

"I'm leaving the window unlocked, just in case." My firefighter informed me as we were closing up the room.

"Oh I'm sure I won't need that," I said emphatically, "I'm certain I can do this." I picked the lock one more time for good measure.

Apparently, my husband has some experience with my bad luck when it comes to locked doors. So, he left the window accessible, just in case. I had no more time to spend on opening that door. The hours on Christmas Eve after the kids go to sleep is too precious to waste. But I could not open the freaking door!!

I sighed and accepted the inevitable. The window and I were about to get really well acquainted. I got my shoes, lamented my predicament to my internet friends, and grabbed the flashlight.

Did I mention that I'm great with child?

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Oh, and did I mention that the neighbor, who's windows were just yards away from me, is a cop? The worst-case scenario could have been pretty awesome.

I crept out in the freezing night and pulled the screen off, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to bring any attention to myself. It took about two seconds to realize that the window was way too high to get in without some help. My ballet days are long, long gone, and the awkward belly wasn't helping. This was not going to be a graceful procedure.

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I grabbed the nearest tuffet-like piece of furniture and got 'er done.

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Stupid presents.

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Mission: accomplished.

Dignity: vanquished.

Why do these things always happen when my husband is gone? Why? I furtively put the screen back in the window, threw the evil side-eyes at the gifts, and was thankful no one mistook me for a criminal. I also became acutely aware of how easy it is to break into my house.

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The rest of the evening and following morning went smoothly.

The children woke up and did a good job staying upstairs for the hour and a half until Daddy came home. I blocked the stairs with wrapping paper, set up breakfast upstairs, and Santa had their stockings waiting for them to give them something to do.

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For the record, three harmonicas are not harmonious. But I had to laugh when they played "guess that tune" and my daughter tried to sound out We Will Rock You.

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Dad made it home and the rest was a cozy, happy blur.

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And now I'm in a food coma.

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Happy Birthday to the Savior!

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night's sleep!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh Christmas Card, Oh Christmas Card...

We decided, last-minute, to attempt a Christmas card this year. It was really last minute. In fact, I am pretty sure half of the cards will arrive after Christmas. (Sorry, friends and family!) Oh, and I dropped my phone and took it in to make good on the warranty. That's when they told me that I would have all of my contacts and bookmarks back with the new phone. Except that they gave me my husband's number accidentally, and when they re-assigned it back to my number and I signed in, it was a blank slate. Contacts gone. Christmas cards are sitting on my counter, un-addressed. (Sorry again, friends and family!) Oh well. At least we tried, right? I promise I'll track you all down next year.

In the meantime, here were some of the contenders for the card...

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The youngest was crying in half of these, and laughing maniacally in the other half.

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In the end, we decided to go with this one:

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Have a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

When do you tell your children about the true nature of Santa?

I was seven or eight years old. It was night time. I remember walking down the long hallway paved in what my foggy memory tells me was as an orange or red-toned linoleum. The opening to the kitchen on my right was separated from the hall by a square rough-hewn beam and a white counter, as seen in the back of this picture:

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That's me and my little brother Tom.

The hallway ran straight into a large living room. Lights and classical music streamed through even the smallest openings to the space. There was a faint rustling of paper. I wondered what was going on, thought it sounded interesting, and took a peek into the room. I can't remember if I had to open a door or not to get that peek.

What I saw was my parents putting together Christmas. It was the night before the big day. I had my suspicions about Santa, having heard rumors that he didn't exist, but this confirmed it. It was too embarrassing to confront my parents in the moment. I knew they didn't want me to see what they were doing. In fact, I don't know that I ever verbalized what I saw. Wide-eyed in the darkness, I crept back down the hall and tried to sleep through the excitement about the presents waiting for me.

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My parents took the approach of neither confirming nor denying the existence of Santa, even when we were teenagers.

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My daughter is now seven and she still believes in Santa. The children understand the true meaning of Christmas, but Santa is still in the picture. He is viewed as someone who helps us celebrate the birth of the Savior.

"Hey Mom!" She declared one day as we were driving to get something to eat.

"What honey?"

"I figured out why Christmas is in December. It's because the nights are so long and it gives Santa more time!"

We had recently discussed the reason why the days are so short in the winter. It's been a hot topic around here, the kids are fascinated by it. In fact, just today, my kindergartner told me that he knew what today was — the day that the nights start getting shorter and it's now winter. He was very confused and disappointed when he looked outside and saw that there wasn't a blanket of snow on the ground. I guess he assumed that's what happens when winter starts! He did, however, get to see the fountain freeze a bit:

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That's as close to snow as we've gotten so far. There's still plenty of green blooming things around the yard.

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We may not get a white Christmas, but at least we'll have fresh gardenia's. I'm okay with that!

Anyway, my daughter is starting to wonder about the mechanics of how Santa could possibly do what he does. But she still fully believes. In fact, she has a loose tooth and thought it would be so cool if the tooth fairy and Santa could meet.

What I wonder is if I should tell her myself that Santa (and other gift-giving mythical beings) are fictional, or if I should let her discover that on her own. Do I let her be that kid who insists to her friends that Santa is real when they question his existence? I'm leaning toward letting her go through the process of finding out for herself if it's true or not.

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I think that learning to discern truth from fiction is a valuable life-skill. Going through the process of studying the facts and the stories and comparing them to her own real-life experiences would be beneficial. Learning to be analytical is good.

At least, those are all the reasons I tell myself. But honestly, I'm simply too chicken to break it to her. I don't want to be the one associated with shattering some of the magic of Christmas!

It would be a tragedy if the Tooth Fairy and Santa could never meet.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fireplace Fix - Before and After

We're chipping away at the home improvement project pile. I have paint sitting, waiting, begging to be applied to a number of surfaces. The most recent paint fix to get marked off of the list was the fireplace. This particular project was a comparatively small change, since the walls had already been finished. Even thought the square footage was minor, the re-painted fireplace impacted the room dramatically.

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When we moved in the fireplace looked like this:

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It was painted black with a swirly gold glaze on top from what I can tell. The yellow from the gold, combined with the black background, produced this green tone. My guess is that the previous owners didn't know that black and yellow make green. Which is unfortunate, because the fireplace in the bedroom upstairs has the same issue. Combined with the yellow in the walls, the pink in the tiles, and the orange in the woodwork, the green was a bit much color-wise.

To tie the fireplace into our new color scheme, we decided to play it safe and paint it white.

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We're really happy with the results. The whole room feels so much lighter now that the fireplace beams white into the space instead of dark green. I still need to do some touch-ups around the edges; don't look too closely!!

That sculpture there on the right of the hearth was made by my dad. Thanks, dad! The other decorations, including the snowflakes, came mostly from the dollar store. Thanks, dollar store!

(Here's the details on the wreath, if you're feeling crafty.)

This is the part of the post where I would normally give my husband a hard time for splattering white paint outside of the tape lines. I even sent him away so I could finish the project properly. However, I may or may not have created more of a mess than he did. So, I won't lay all of the blame on him... this time...

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's not turning 35 that gets me - it's being 5 years away from 40!

I'm too young to be five years away from turning 40! How did this happen? I swear, I'm still 29. But somehow, many years (and children) have passed since I was that age.

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Birthday flowers from my love. :)

The ironic thing is, I look forward to five years from now. In 5 1/2 years, the children will all be in school. I am excited about the time I will have to myself, to get things done. I could use those hours to be so much more productive than I am now. Maybe my house will be cleaner, and I'll get back into painting. I could take a class or two at the local college. Just for fun. And on the days when my husband is home, we could go to lunch and a movie. We could go on actual dates! Our daughter would be old enough to babysit. We'll have deeper friendships with people in our new community. It should be a great time in our lives. The strange thing is picturing myself as 40 when all of this happens.

I guess I'm starting to feel the fear of time moving too quickly to fully enjoy all the funny little things that happen, like my 2 1/2 year old asking his dad in his broken baby voice to "trans my former" while holding out Megatron.

While there have been months of time standing still, waiting for a baby to learn to sleep through the night or wading through the daily battle with morning sickness, for the most part time has progressed faster than should be possible. I should be 35 in five years from now. Something is terribly wrong with the physics involved with being a parent to young children.

In spite of the feeling that time is getting away from me, I had a wonderful birthday. According to reports, the children took advantage of me going to the store the day before my birthday. "Hurry, she's gone! Let's go!"

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They went through their toys and selected items to give to me — things they no longer wanted themselves, of course :) Then they crumpled paper around them and threw them in a small bag and put it under the tree. Apparently, my explanation of why they didn't need to give me physical presents to open on my birthday was not acceptable.

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The kids also made birthday cards for me. It cracks me up that they address me as "Katie" on their cards! I love it.

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This, according to my kindergartner, is a robot. "But it's a girl robot. And she has a bracelet and a necklace. And some extra necklaces."

As much as I look forward to five years from now, I don't want to miss these little instances of sweetness and awesomeness that accumulate throughout the day. Such as this — my youngest interrupting a musical number at the church's Christmas pajama breakfast by jumping up on stage and dancing. (I was the one hiding under my napkin, laughing, embarrassed, and purple.)

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I don't want them to be 5 years older. And if I'm honest with myself, I don't want to be 40 years old! But I guess I have a lot of time to get used to the idea, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy life with these little beings before that day arrives. And when it does come, after getting over the initial shock, I'll sit down in my quiet, clean house, look back on the preceding five years, and be happy.

And maybe the presents my children give will be a little more age-appropriate for me. :)
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