Sunday, December 25, 2016

On Christmas Day

We decided to brave the midnight mass for the first time as a family and it was only slightly a disaster.  We put the kids to bed in their church clothes and then commenced operation trim the tree/find and wrap the presents that we had hidden in all the nooks and crannies our basement has to offer.  Once it was time to go we just got the children up, put on their shoes and coats and loaded them up in the car.  I think it would have been completely fine had the mass not been really long--beginning with carols and then continuing with what Chris dubbed, 'the Mozart mass.'  I don't know if that's its actual name.  It was beautiful, with the full orchestra and choir, but by the time we hit the 'peace be with you's' the children were officially done and we exited the church with our dignity still somewhat intact.  

Santa arrived sometime  after we got the children back into bed and then we were all up again by six, ready to see what he left.  Well, the children were ready.  I could have slept another five or so hours.

Highlights from the morning included:

Margaret officially taking over Henry's role as chief candy thief.  I didn't think anyone would be able to steal the title but she cannot be trusted with any amount of candy within sight.  Or out of sight.  She is not particular--and also undeterred by little things like "danger" or the possibility of "falling off of the counter" and "cracking her head open."  

John wandering around giving us toys and telling us that they were our "celebrations!"  His "celebration" were the Rescue Bots that turn into dinosaurs that Santa brought.  He said it was a good thing that Santa brings things that I would never buy like more Rescue Bots and giant Lego sets and drones that are destined to crash and break into bits.  Isn't it though?  

Overhearing David chastising Henry in his sternest voice saying, "Henry, it's Christmas," in an attempt to convince Henry to just let him build the giant Lego set--because obviously Christmas means handing over your favorite present to any sibling who might want it.  

I only managed to craft one gift this year and that was a doll cradle for Margaret.  We found it at a garage sale last spring looking a bit bedraggled and David said he wanted to get it for his sister and ran back to the car for the money--which I thought was so sweet.  Once I got it into the car though, Chris asked me what the five dollars that David told him I needed was for.  Apparently David wanted Margaret to have the cradle, but not enough to spend his own money to buy it.  I painted it up and sewed a little mattress to go in it and I think it turned out pretty well, despite the fact that I cannot get the measurements right for a doll mattress to save my life.  I know I should make it bigger than the actual measurements of the bottom of the bed, but by how much?  I even made this one with boxed sides and it was still an inch short all around.  Luckily Margaret only noticed the fact that she now has a cradle that's considerably larger than her last one and all of her babies can fit in it.  And she is amassing quite the baby collection.

All in all, it was a wonderful start to the Christmas season, despite our less than stellar mass performance.  We played with new toys, took a walk to the park to give that drone a go in a spot with minimal tree hazzards (not me though, I never even changed out of my jammies), and had a seafood feast prepared entirely by my husband,  If that's not winning at Christmas day, I don't know what is.  


Merry Christmas to you all!  And remember to keep the celebrations going!  Tomorrow we gingerbread :)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Life Among the Savages

The book links below are affiliate links so go ahead and use them to buy all my book  suggestions and Amazon will send me all the cents, or do what I did and get them from the's up to you  :)

"Our house is old, and noisy, and full.  When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books; we also own assorted beds and tables and chairs and rocking horses and lamps and doll dresses and ship models and paint brushes and literally thousands of socks.  This is the way of life my husband and I have fallen into, inadvertently, as though we had fallen into a well and decided that since there was no way out we might as well stay there and set up a chair and a desk and a light of some kind; even though this is our way of life, and the only one we know, it is occasionally bewildering, and perhaps even inexplicable to the sort of person who does not have that swift, accurate conviction that he is going to step on a broken celluloid doll in the dark.  I cannot think of a preferable way of life, except one without children and without books, going on soundlessly in an apartment hotel where they do the cleaning for you and send up your meals and all you have to do is lie on a couch and--as I say, I cannot think of a preferable way of life, but then I have had to make a good many compromises, all told."

So goes the first paragraph of my favorite book of 2016. I read a piece in the Review section of the Wall Street Journal on a new book about the life of Shirley Jackson whom I remembered only as the woman who wrote that creepy short story, The Lottery, that we all read in high school.  Apparently she wrote a lot of other fairly dark stories, but she also wrote a lot of fairly hilarious stories about her actual life as a mom, which is what Life Among the Savages is.  It reads as a precursor to the modern day mom blog and she even dedicated it to "[her] children's grandparents" whom my own mom blog is, if not actually dedicated to, are nonetheless my target audience.  I've found that reading stories of other mothers, especially from different eras, managing shenanigans very similar to those of my own children gives a nice perspective to my days and reminds me of the fact that while motherhood is often an exasperating endeavor,  it's always easier to face up to it when you have a sense of humor firmly in place.    

I suppose what I'm saying is that I would love to sit down for coffee with this woman and swap stories about our children's antics.  Not that we'd be able to hear each other over the din.   Also I'm seriously considering changing the name of my blog to just Life Among the Savages in an homage to her.  It sums up my life nicely and unlike my current blog name, has only words that everyone can pronounce.

I desperately want to read the sequel, Raising Demons, but my failure of a library doesn't have it.  I did check out Let Me Tell You though, which is a compilation of her short stories and has a whole section on motherhood in general.  It didn't disappoint.  And while I don't like to read scary or disturbing things as a rule, I did pick up her book, We Have Always Lived in the Castle which was also very good.  Not scary-disturbing, but creepy-it-kind-of-sticks-with-you-disturbing.  

I know you all love my sporadic and oh so professional book reviews and advice, so if you are a mom and also in need of a good laugh--which as a mom you probably are--get thee to a library and find some Shirley Jackson, you won't regret it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

On It Already Being Advent

or alternately, Where Did November Go?

Does anyone else feel like they blinked and found themselves transported from Halloween to the first week of Advent?  I suppose it could be the whole having a newborn and not exactly sleeping thing that's skewing my sense of time, but it did seem to fly by exceptionally fast this year.  I also don't have much in terms of documenting what we've been up to since I've hardly pulled my camera out at all which is a shame because, again, the whole having a newborn thing.  Newborns are adorable and should have their picture taken.  Frequently.  I did manage to get a decent family picture for our Christmas cards using my camera's automatic timer and a "tripod" which was actually two ladders and an old board we found in the yard so at least there's that.  We are very fancy here--and also it might be time for an upgrade in my camera equipment.  

All the grandparents out there can take that as a thinly veiled ultimatum.  You want pictures of your latest grandchild during the dark and dismal days of winter, I need an external flash :)  

I'm feeling pretty good about our Christmas preparedness here, even if it does feel as though we're speeding towards it at an unnaturally fast clip.  The presents are all purchased, not all wrapped mind you but purchased.  Present wrapping is one of my love languages though, so that's not a chore so much as a treat for me.  All the nativities are out, as well as the nutcrackers and Christmas books and I've got it on pretty good authority that St. Nicholas is bringing some excellent new additions along with the gold coins on his feast day this year.  Thanks to Trader Joe's and their boxwood wreaths our Advent wreath was up and running in time for its first Sunday lighting.  And in an Advent miracle I was able to easily locate the candles the boys rolled last year since I apparently had the good sense to put them into a box and label it "candles" after we made them.  I love last year me, I'd like to give her a high five.  Or maybe a hug. 

Now I can mostly just sit back and relax.....except for writing those Christmas cards.....and baking all the cookies.....and I guess that popcorn isn't going to string itself for that tree that we still need to go and procure.  So "sit back and relax" might not be the correct sentiment.  Maybe it's more of a "calmly stay on top of the season instead of descending in a panic of last minute Yuletide preparations." 

Wish me luck.  

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