At Last

It is finished.

The Christmas Letter, that is. Tomorrow I’ll take it to Kinko’s for color copying (oh, yes, it’s oh-so-fancy). Now, I think I’m ready for Christmas. Well, unless you count Christmas cookies–to bake or not to bake, that is the question–and buying gifts for the church staff. Oh, and a present for my husband.

By the way, my mother and I are Christmas Cookie Snobs. We can’t help it. We agreed the other night: chocolate chip cookies are simply not Christmas cookies. And if your sugar coookies aren’t made with butter and powdered sugar, you aren’t making them right. In fact, if you use those Pillsbury rolls of premade dough, I’m afraid I’m going to have to suspend your Christmas Cookie Baking License.

I’m just saying.

At Last

Reality Show Comments

I am hopelessly interested in myself. And I’m a voyeur. That explains two things:

1) My impulse to take those silly blog quizzes which tell you what kind of food, president or novel character you are. In past days, I’ve discovered that I’m Mexican food, Abraham Lincoln and . . . I can’t remember the other thing.

2) My inability to not watch “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.” Admit it. You wondered where I was last night when you realized there was no fresh post from me. Well, I was watching the finale of the Donald Trump version of the Apprentice and I’m about to talk about it so if you are allergic to or disdainful of reality television, you might want to move along to a blog talking about . . . oh, I don’t know, you figure something out.

First of all, not long ago, on “Survivor,” the winner of a particular challenge won a car. Cindy was informed that in ten seasons of Survivor, every single car winner did NOT win the million dollar prize. She was given the chance to “break the curse” by giving up the car and instead, giving a car to each of the other four remaining players.

She looked agonized for a moment, then decided to keep the car herself, thus effectively depriving four other people of a brand new car. (She was voted out next.)

Last night, on “The Apprentice,” Trump hired Randall, the well-educated and talented man. Then, at the very last minute, while Randall was high-fiving and hugging and celebrating his victory, Donald Trump hollered to him, “RANDALL! RANDALL!” and had him sit back down. Trump asked Randall if he thought Trump should hired Rebecca as well. Randall said, no, there is only one apprentice, otherwise it would be called The Apprenti.

Huh, what? I think Trump was shocked. Who wouldn’t be? I can understand Cindy in “Survivor” not giving away four new cars because she would have been deprived of a new car herself, but Randall would still have had his job, even if Trump also hired Rebecca.

I don’t get it. Is this greed? Self-absorption? Looking out for number one? Clawing your way to the top?

You’d think I’d know since I am narcissistic and all, but I’m stumped. I like to think I would have been generous in both situations . . . granted, the car would have hurt a little, but the joy of making four other people deliriously happy, not to mention the increased chance of winning the entire game would have assuaged the temporary pangs. But Randall’s outright recommendation against hiring Rebecca? That was just plain mean.

Reality Show Comments

Untitled Due to Lack of Funding

This has been my early week, so I’ve been dragging out of bed and showering with my eyes closed all so I can be ready to open the door by 7:15 a.m. I can’t wait until winter solstice comes and goes and the daylight begins to lengthen. It’s not right to be awake in the dark morning. And next week, no daycare kids and no school, so I’ll be lolly-gagging as much as possible with a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 3-year old around.

I’ve been working with my boys this week on composition. Teaching them to compose a research paper or a book report pushes me to the very edge of my abilities. You know how they say “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”? (George Bernard Shaw said that, I’m told.) Well. I can write, but apparently I can’t teach them to write.

I did find a graphic organizer from Inspiration Software, Inc. that I am using with them. This software seems to help them organize their thoughts and it automatically switches from diagram to outline. I am working closely with each of them. You’d think I’d be able to give them instructions and set them loose, but apparently they learned nothing about writing during their six years of public education.

I can imagine that a dancer would find similar frustration in attempting to teach me to dance. I have no natural ability, no inner rhythm, no instinct for movement. But a dancer might think I simply needed to try harder.

I think my boys need to try harder, but I’m coming to realize that they just don’t have an aptitude for writing. Add to that their lack of desire and you end up with my nightmare. Oh, but it gets worse.

At 5:15 p.m., I held the last baby in my arms. She was finishing her bottle, albeit reluctantly. Then, mere seconds before my husband walked in the door, the baby began vomiting on me. Not spit-up, but Exorcist spewing. When it was all said and done, both the baby and I were covered in the fetid white bubbly puke. Regurgitated formula reeks. Her mother came in moments later and I was still cradling the baby and a bath towel, trying to figure out what to do next. I gingerly placed the baby on the floor on a different bath towel. When I stood, her mother began to apologize. I had to change everything I wore, except my socks.

Now that is a dramatic way to end the day.

Only the day didn’t end. My mother stopped by, just as I started making gravy for the chicken and mashed potatoes. She’ll be watching my kids on Sunday evening when my husband and I attend a Christmas party. Since she hasn’t seen my kids for a long time, she thought she’d visit, especially for my daughter’s benefit. So she stayed for dinner and left around 7:00 p.m.

My mother tells very long stories. She can go on for twenty minutes about a cookie recipe, giving the back story first, then several tangential stories and then finally, produce the actual recipe. I made my husband promise to stop me if I ever do that. More than I do already, of course. My stories can get detailed, but at least I hurry them along and notice if my audience begins to doze off with glassy eyes.

Yes, I noticed your eyes roll back in your head just then. Wipe that string of drool off your lips. I’m finished with this pointless tale.

Thank you and goodnight.

Untitled Due to Lack of Funding

“Dear Family and Friends . . . “

Without blushing at all, I will be the first to admit that I write a pretty great Christmas newsletter. Only at this moment in time, poised to write said newsletter, I doubt my ability to write anything but drivel. And time’s a’wasting. Only eleven days until Christmas. Ack!

I have a folder with a copy of each letter dating back to 1991 and if you add that to my stack of old identification cards from high school and college and summer jobs and my pale younger faces on expired driver’s licenses, you get a fairly accurate and somewhat sobering picture of my life in incremental snapshots.

So tonight, I read through the newsletters. I am reassured. I can do this. I’ve done it before.

All I need is one brilliant shining hook, a place to hang the summary of the whole year.

I’m scared.

“Dear Family and Friends . . . “

Anonymous Commenter Strikes Again

When you comment on this blog, the comments land right into my email box. That makes it easy for me to reply to your comment via email. Alas, some of you don’t leave an email address, so I can’t reply to you easily. Others of you choose complete anonymity, which I can understand, especially if you intend to insult me in such an incoherent manner.

You have to wonder: do some people just have too much time on their hands?

Seriously. This is what “Anonymous” said:

mel you sound like an uptight bitch,sounds to me by you writing this your looking and needing everyone to tell you that your right.i think your jealous that your sister cares less for trying to please everyone and shes ok with it.sounds to me like she leads a very interesting and fascinating life and your stuck in suburbia,with a pastor for a husband,little kids and your bored and upset with your choices in life.growup and stop acting like a child except people for who they are and stop being jealous and the moment you admit you are jealous the quicker you can heal and do something about it.ps and as for her not answering your emails back on such subjects….mel she probably just does not have time to cater to your obvious disection of every incident,i would love to hear her side of the story,and why did you remove olives post?

I have to know: is there a shortage of periods and no one told me? Because if so, I’ll just have to use exclamation points from now on!! and are we all out of capital letters? because i will eliminate them, too, if i need to!! conserve periods and capitals!! unite!! we all stand together against the sensless waste of punctuation and upper case letters!!

Anonymous Commenter Strikes Again

Oh, The Excitement Around Here!

So, this afternoon, I was putting the baby down for his nap and checking on the preschoolers (all snuggled in their beds) and I heard my twins hollering my name. Now, this is not unusual at all for it seems that whenever I leave the room they get into a tussle. Why is this? Is it testosterone? A twin-thing? Sibling rivalry? Boredom?

As I came down the stairs, I hissed, “DON’T YELL AT ME!” because, really, it’s irritating to be yelled at when you aren’t even involved in the disagreement in the first place. And then I realized someone was hurt.

See this?

Do you know what this is? That’s right. It’s a goose egg. When I saw the goose egg on my son’s forehead, I responded with a shocked, “OH MY GOSH!” and actually pirouetted in the kitchen before peering again at his horribly swollen forehead and exclaiming again, “OH MY GOSH!” and frantically grabbing for ice.

Goose-Egg-Boy had been hassling his brother, teasing him about finishing his schoolwork for the day. (Taking notes from a book for a research paper, aka Torture.) Harassed son responded by brandishing a pencil as a sword and chasing. At some point, Harasser picked up a small chair from the preschool table in the kitchen and Harassee grabbed the nearest thing, which happened to be a Princess trick-or-treat bucket, which my daughter carries around like a purse.

He tossed said bucket at his brother, aiming, he said later, for his stomach, but hitting him in the forehead, between his left eyebrow and his hairline.

The resulting goose egg was the most dramatic I have ever seen, a couple of inches in diameter and an inch high. Goose-Egg-Son was on his back, crying while the Bucket Thrower stood over us weeping and demanding, “Is my brother going to die? Is my brother going to die?!” I finally had to send him from the room because he was hysterical.

While a washcloth full of ice settled on the swelling, I hurried to google “goose egg” and “head injury” and decided that unless unconsciousness and vomiting and dizziness occurred, he’d probably be fine. But, oh, that goose egg was dramatic and impressive and terrifying for a moment.

Now it’s a giant purplish-blue lump. My son avoided my husband tonight–not the Bucket Thrower, but the Goose-Egg-Boy–because he didn’t want his brother to be in trouble. I told Bucket Thrower that his father would speak to him tomorrow and he said, “Can’t I just know my punishment now?” and I said, “No,” because we firmly believe in making children squirm and stew in their own juices.

The Bucket Thrower cried much longer than the Goose-Egg-Boy and said to me, “Mom, I feel so bad. I think I’m going to throw up.” And I said nonchalantly, “Well, you are supposed to feel bad when you purposely hurt someone.”

And to think we could have just had another boring day around here.

Oh, The Excitement Around Here!

Ho-Ho-Bah-Humbug-Ho!

The annoying illnesses continue to linger, which explains why I had no intention of going to church Sunday morning. However, my daughter had other ideas and so, in my germ-induced haze, I decided not only to go to church, but also to dress the children in complementary colors, leave church early and take the annual Christmas photo.

We arrived in our usual front row seat only a minute or two late, even though I didn’t crawl from bed until 9:00 a.m. Almost as soon as we sat down, my daughter, the Instigator, began to lobby for our exit. I kept whispering in her ear, “As soon as the music is over.” Unbeknownst to me (I’m a sorry excuse for a pastor’s wife and I blame it all on the fact that I was too busy taking “Homiletics” to bother taking “The Pastor’s Wife,” in Bible college) the choir was presenting a Christmas cantata. I knew I’d miss it since I was accompanied by Miss I-Can’t-Sit-Still-in-Church, but still. We stayed as long as we could, then slipped out the door.

I had to buy film, so we left town briefly and then returned to a little park. I hurriedly arranged the children for a photograph, but someone was uncooperative and for some reason all the boys were squinty-eyed and slouching. Christmas Cheer sounded something like this: “Sit up! No, smile! Move it. Put your face forward. Sit up straight! Okay, scoot over! Smile! No, smile like you mean it. Hey, hey, hey, look at me!” Let’s just say that none of my children are destined for super stardom as a supermodel.

But you have to agree that Miss Grinch is mighty cute.

When my husband returned home from church, I raced off to Costco to have the film developed to see if anything turned out. The picture above is the one I chose. How could I not? Even the lady behind the Costco counter agreed. (And when you are choosing a picture to represent your family for the entire year, who better to consult that the lady behind the Costco counter? I ask you that.)

Ho-Ho-Bah-Humbug-Ho!