Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year, New Clew ...

... or at the very least, hopefully somewhat improved.

I've been thinking about New Year's Resolutions. I normally don't make them anymore but after 2005 being such a weird, topsy turvy year I am somehow inspired to compile a list of minor life altering commitments. I know this is a boring post but I'm hoping that if I "write them out loud" I'll be more apt to stick to them ;). I shall also retitle my list in attempt to dodge the cheesy stigma of the term "resolution". Hey, whatever works.

Thanks for indulging me.


  • Now that the holidays are over, I'm going to return to healthy eating. I usually am very conscious about what I eat and eating sensibly really does make a difference, not just externally but internally. I've been feeling like total crap for the last few months with all the heavy foods and dessert breads and chocolates and way too much social eating. Dang it's all been good though. Sure enjoyed it.
  • I'm going to get back to my workouts. Before having Incrediboy I was a Tae Bo junkie. I felt great and I looked hot (LOL). I miss that on both counts. I'll probably never look as good as I used to after having my puppy but I'm sure as heck done with feeling jiggly. I am definitely going to work that back into my schedule. BILLY BLANKS ROCKS!
  • I'm going to get back to my scrapbooking regularly. I've only sporadically done anything in ages - I have 2 elaborate vacations, 3 years of puppyhood and 2 years of babyhood and toddlerhood to preserve, not to mention several years of other general life events and my retrostash of stuff going back to the beginning of time. I miss my scrapping sanctuary and I don't want any more details to fade. Not to mention that even as I catch up, life marches on!!! AAACK!!! (Plus it's a perfect excuse to play with my new Christmas gift, my killer photo printer from the Hub! :D!)
  • I'm going to watch less TV. I watch way too much TV during my me-time for all this other stuff I want to be doing.
  • I'm going to write more frequently in Incrediboy's Journal. I've slacked off to only once or twice a month in the latter half of this year. There are too many things to capture for him to be writing so infrequently.
  • I'm going to take the boy (and myself) back to church. We haven't gone since he was about 4 or 5 months old - just got out of the habit. We are a Christian home but now that he's older we owe it to him to raise him with a church family too. Life is so much better when the Lord is included.
  • Some other nunya-stuff that I'm not going to list here.

I am anticipating a busy New Year's weekend and may not be around much - The Hub and I are taking tomorrow off for a play day (Woohoo!) and you know how weekends are - so I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Don't party too largely, and remember to write your name in your underwear in case you get lost.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Holidays and Other Items

Random tidbits of late ...

I had to stop by Target yesterday afternoon for some this’n’thats. I picked up Incrediboy after work from Grandma’s and in the 5 minutes it took to get to Target he fell fast asleep. I got him out of the car seat and carried him in as he sleepily draped his arms around my neck and positioned his head on my shoulder.

Post Christmas shopping and returning is in full swing and we had to park quite a ways from the store. As I headed towards the entrance my arms started to ache surprisingly quickly, and I began to take stock as to why. My little baby has been replaced by a boy. The adorable little lima bean shaped infant with the Michelin Man thigh rolls and the chubby wrists and dimpled knuckles is now a lean and lanky child. As his sweet blonde head rested on my shoulder (note to self: the once peach fuzzed head needs its fourth haircut), I noticed that while not long ago I could cuddle his whole body into me with one arm, I now must use both arms to support him under the butt hammock-fashion as his Elmo sneakers dangle loosely all the way down near my knees.

Gosh, he's going to be tall.

He’s growing up much more quickly than I expected. Pants I just bought in the fall that had to be rolled up – twice - now don’t require the cuffing. Shirt sleeves are getting too short. The photos we took at Christmas show that even the baby-ness in his little round face is quickly disappearing. I’m thrilled by it all, yet saddened too. It’s bittersweet in a way I can’t describe.

My little boy. What did I tell you about growing up too fast? You’re not listening!

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! It was wonderful here. The holidays spent vicariously through a small child’s sparkling eyes is one of the greatest pleasures I have ever known. Incrediboy was so enamored with his gifts that we let time elapse between openings – sometimes hours – to allow him to enjoy each thing. It took us 3 whole days to get everything opened, but that’s all right. We enjoyed watching him engross himself in each toy rather than becoming so overloaded by too much too soon that it all ultimately went unnoticed.

Most Beautiful Dog had a nice Christmas too. As I opened his stocking with him on Christmas morning, his eyes were so alert that the whites showed all around and his strong muscular body quivered with anticipation – but he always politely watches and waits to be offered the treats within rather than rooting his face inside the stocking to grab anything he can. Such a good boy.

He’s polished off and/or demolished 3 substantially sized chew bones and one extra large tennis ball since the stocking ceremony. MBDog loves Christmas.

I got some nice gifts, some cash, and a generous bonus and gift basket from my bosses. But my favorite gift was from my coolio Hub. I love my Hub, by the way. He’s the greatest.

Now I told him not to get me anything big because I only got him a nifty mid-range gadget as his main gift – but the big poohbear got me a home photo printing station. It’s KILLER! It will print 4x6 prints direct from a digicam chip or memory stick, or you can print from your computer. It is the deluxe model so you can see a little image of what the digi is on a full color screen on the top of the machine. Nice. You can also crop and manipulate color saturation, contrast, sharpness, and all that stuff right there. The quality difference between these and lab prints is negligible, and the ink’s rated to last without fading for at least 100 years. He also got me four 100-count blank photo paper packs.


I totally love it. I feel the scrap muses calling me with their siren song once more. I hope he realizes this is the springboard for him becoming a scrapbooking widower again.

Hm, maybe that’s the idea ???? … ;)

I'm currently formulating my resolutions list. BLAH!

On a final note, I bought myself a great CD last night from a rocker dude I really dig. But I’m not going to say who it is because I know y’all will crack on me for watching American Idol.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Hope you're all enjoying a wonderful holiday with your loved ones!
A friend sent me this and I wanted to share.
Merry Christmas!!!
XOXO ~ Clew, Hub, Incrediboy and Most Beautiful Dog

Friday, December 23, 2005


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain - With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame - With the rain of Shambala
Ah, ooh, yeah - yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ah, ooh, yeah - yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind on the road to Shambala

Everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind on the road to Shambala
Ah, ooh, yeah - yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ah, ooh, yeah - yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?
How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?

I can tell my sister by the flowers in her eyes on the road to Shambala
I can tell my brother by the flowers in his eyes on the road to Shambala
Ah, ooh, yeah - yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ah, ooh, yeah - yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?
Tell me how does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Remember that song? A 1973 Top Ten hit by 3 Dog Night. A song that’s on my list of songs you simply cannot listen to without it putting you into a better mood.

Incrediboy loves music – and to his father’s and my delight, has a particular taste for classic rock. While on a recent road trip, I had a notion to put in my 3 Dog Night with intent of playing “Joy to the World” - because what kid doesn’t love Jeremiah the Bullfrog, right? But I first stopped off at “Shambala”, by favorite 3DN song.

At the first strum, Incrediboy’s face lit up. He began bobbing his head in his car seat, and as the uplifting music proceeded, so did his chair dancing, big smile on his dimply face all the while, and each time the chorus rolled around, he'd chime in – “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah …”

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I watched him in my visor mirror.

When “Shambala” concluded, I flipped to “Joy to the World”. But would you believe? Incrediboy wanted nothing to do with that. He griped in protest, shaking his head and insisting it was all wrong. I scanned back to “Shambala” – and all was right with the world once more. Dancing, grinning, singing. We listened to it 4 or 5 times before concluding that car ride. Good thing it’s my favorite too!

Shambala is often used synonymously with Paradise, but is actually a term from Buddhism, meaning “the source of happiness”. As the traditional season of change and setting resolutions is just round the bend, I was thinking this morning (as we enjoyed another round of this shared favorite) about the pinnacle sources of Shambala in my little world. I have not been the recipient of a charmed life at all times. But that is no cause to not be happy – to seek happiness and seek the company of others seeking happiness.

I believe, because it has been proven to me within my own life, that we are constantly surrounded by many travel companions who are heading along our way with us - but every so often one in particular will separate from the crowd and you will somehow become a singular unit. Our merciful Lord understands that it’s difficult to handle some things “alone” – so He will guide us to special people, that can help us and we can in turn also help.

The Hub and I met in the darkest days of our lives, for both of us. We were pallid, broken refugees with little faith or energy left to get up and walk on. But we had a vision of what our futures should and could be – and one step at a time traveled a road to our blessed life as it is now. Not only have we been approaching Paradise together, but the road we have traveled thus far – the trials by fire, the rising from ashes - is indeed our Shambala.

Many years ago now we lost several children to miscarriage. The Hub was my haven – we grieved together and kept each other from falling apart. As wonderful as he was, I felt a void in me from having no accessible women in my life who knew my pain firsthand. Through a seemingly random course of events I came in contact with another grieving mother – we connected instantly and the salve we provided each other both specifically and abstractly was just the ticket. Years later we both have been blessed with beautiful sons as well as a friendship of a lifetime. The journey of loss, grief, anger, and fear we have traveled together too, in hindsight, is Shambala.

Incrediboy turned 2 last month. It’s been the longest 2 years of my life, and also the shortest. He’s come so far – from a helpless little creature not even able to hold his own head up to a lively, brilliant, energetic clown of a little boy. Just like that. He frustrates us at times. Sometimes I even cry from the weighty challenges of parenting, and he’s only 2! But I know these days are fleeting. Soon our sweet boy will be a snot nosed teen and then we’ll really have challenges! But for those times and these, God has a tender loving way of making the tough times fade so that mostly joyous, loving images remain. We are well aware that soon these days will be gone forever and our baby will be a man. We do our best to make these days last. To enjoy the scenery in all its glory and the pitfalls in all their challenge, with this Shambala.

2005 is almost over, can you believe that? It’s not been an easy year for me. Yet I am so blessed. I have made so many beautiful memories with my family, and have made some wonderful new friends whom I treasure. Still I find myself feeling stressed a lot of the time, and terribly lonely for those I’ve lost this year. I’ve caught myself being cross with my most treasured travel companion, my wonderful husband, more times than I can count and often for no good reason. Why?

I’ve been thinking about why I seem to lose my joy so quickly, and I think it’s due to forgetting to love the journey. I forget to not sweat the small stuff. I forget the flowers in my eyes.

This weekend, like all of you, I will be enjoying my Christmas with loved ones. I’ll focus on remembering what makes the journey beautiful. Next week I will be thinking about the dreaded “New Year’s Resolutions”. Which this year translates into defining the clutter I can remove so that I can return to a state of Shambala in my heart. How does my light shine?

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain - With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame - With the rain of Shambala

Shambala is here and now. Thank You, Lord, every day. Thank You for all of it.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Little Token of My Confection

A few Blogger buds and I have been musing about Buckeyes - the world's greatest sweet treat, most often seen around the holidays in certain areas of the Great Lakes Region. Named for the nut of the Buckeye tree (a member of the Chestnut family), these lil' gems are worth the effort it takes to make them. I thought I'd post the recipe for anyone who might be interested.


  • 1-1/2 lb. of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 lb. Peanut Butter (2 cups)
  • 2 sticks of butter or margarine
  • 1 (6 oz.) Bag of Chocolate Chips (your choice, milk or dark)
  • 1/3 block of Parrafin Wax

Blend butter, sugar and peanut butter thoroughly and roll into 1 to 1-1/4 inch balls. Place on wax paper on a cookie sheet and chill for an hour.

Melt chocolate and parrafin wax in a double boiler (or, in a pan sitting in another pan with water in it). Using a toothpick stuck into them, dip the gorgeous little peanut butter globes into the chocolate, leaving a small portion undipped (see photo if you're not following). Place back on the wax paper. Chill the buckeyes until chocolate shell has set.

The parrafin wax adds a pretty sheen and helps the chocolate stay "solid" as it's held and eaten. Being a native of Buckeye Country in the purest sense, the wax is simply an accepted part of how it's done for me - but if you don't like that consistency in your shell, try this: Instead of the wax, slowly add 1/2 cup of Half & Half to the chocolate after it's melted. Blend well, bringing the temperature back up, and proceed. I've also recently learned that you could simply alternatively add a small bit of vegetable oil to the chocolate to get a similar result (thanks to Tirithien for that tip!)

My "2 cents" on the sugar: These can also be made with regular sugar, but the powdered sugar gives a much better, smoother consistency. Buckeyes made with regular sugar have a more grainy texture. Not horrible, but I recommend using powdered sugar.

This recipe will make about 4 dozen - which might get you through the first evening.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wrapped Up II

Of all holiday prep activities, wrapping is by far my favorite. I love to wrap gifts. I LOVE it! If at all possible, I’m barely in the door from my shopping excursions before I’m hauling out the paper, tape and ribbon to bask in my wrapping heaven. If I ever get to a point where I don’t have to work to live, I’m going to get a job as a gift wrapper. I’m sure they don’t get paid squat but man I’d dig on that. I love to wrap nice geometric boxes, and I love the challenge of wrapping oddly shaped things. I love the look and feel of perfectly smoothed, creased and cornered paper and immaculately curled and bowed shiny ribbons (ideally, complimenting the paper in some subtle way so as to draw out a subordinate color or pattern) dressing up the packages. I recycle previous years’ well-lending Christmas cards by making them into gift tags – these too are carefully selected so as to reflect and compliment the wrapping and ribbon used. * Sigh * … I love it.

Before you try and pop my bubble, don’t bother. I know it just gets ripped off in 2 seconds and my subtle attention to detail probably isn’t even noticed, but I don’t care. I get a lot of joy out of the act of wrapping, and that’s enough for me to continue with my overly detailed approach.

Shopping is unofficially done at Clew’s house. The Hub bought the gifts for the nephews last night and that concludes it for the season. (We still need to pick up a gift for our good friends L&A but we won’t see them till after the new year, so the pressure’s off.) Now it’s time to just relax and wait for Christmas Day!

I don’t know how much I’ll be around between now and then, so just in case it’s later than sooner, I wanted to wish everyone a warm and joyous Christmas with your loved ones. May your hearts be overflowing with love and joy and blessings – even though these gifts are unwrappable, this is my wish for you all!

Now that the mushy sentiments have been expressed, I leave you with the following Christmas image. I know this is rude but I can’t help it – I laugh every time I look at it.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Wrapped Up

I finished my Christmas shopping this past weekend. Thank the Heavens. You know, I used to complete my shopping for Christmas before Thanksgiving, for the simple fact that I hate going out in that mess. But having a little one seems to have us on perpetual delay. Next year though, I'll try to return to that pipedream plan.

I got one of two remaining Knows Your Name Elmos left at the store. I was pretty excited. Not just because it's one of the "hot" toys this year, but because Incrediboy loves Elmo SO much - I thought he'd get jazzed out of his socks if Elmo addressed him by name! I called the Hub and asked his opinion and he said I should get it, as the boy would no doubt adore it.

On the way home I started thinking about it. It wasn't a cheap toy. He'll be getting plenty of other presents. And Incrediboy already has a big floppy Elmo that he loves and doesn't let out of his sight. Does he really need this fancy one that isn't near as cuddly and will probably break anyway?

I told the Hub when I got home I was having second thoughts about Knows Your Name Elmo. I told him my reasoning and he agreed. I returned Knows Your Name Elmo tonight. I felt eyes upon me as I stood at the service desk and explained nothing was wrong with the toy, we merely decided we didn't want it after all. I had the peculiar feeling of being cased by a pack of hyena. As I walked away with refund in hand, I felt the desperate eyes shift from me, remaining on the newly returned Elmo. I'm sure he's already found a good home.

I felt kind of empowered. I had ultimately avoided being sucked into the hype.

For now anyway.

I can tell already it won't get any easier, especially as he gets older. He's our only boy and we'll be very drawn to giving him the world. And I'm sure we will do what we can to fulfill reasonable special requests from future Christmas lists. But we want to teach him that Christmas isn't all about things. We want him to remember the love of family and the love of a Savior. And to be grateful, always grateful.We will teach him these things, and we will live them.

Between you and me though, I'm very excited about gifting this year. I mean crazy-excited. I can't wait to see and share the joy of a small child on Christmas morning. I can't wait to vicariously feel the adrenaline from the magical spell of a child's Christmas, to see the wonder of the holiday through him.

And it's nothing to do with materialism.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Ever feel like you're in a Catch 22 during the Christmas season? The holidays are like that sometimes. You run around, scrambling to get decorated and handle shopping and mailing and baking and everything, and completely stress yourself out creating joy. You wrack your brain to come up with gifts that don't break you, but aren't cheap and chincy - That the recipient will like, doesn't already have, and might actually display a little bit of thought went into them.

It's tough. We live in an age if instant gratification. No one "waits" for what they want anymore - for most of us, if you want something, you go out and buy it. This means that everyone already has what they want, and it's very difficult to both shop for those on your list and/or to even offer suggestions to those shopping for you. What on earth could anyone possibly want when we already have everything? Oh sure, everyone would love to get iPods and HDTV, but I just don't have the bankroll to get that for everyone, do you?

It's easy to lose sight of things this time of year. It's easy to get so caught up in our own agenda that we all but forget the real joy of giving from the heart, and the real blessing of receiving something you otherwise wouldn't have. To be grateful for our loved ones being so blessed, and to be so blessed ourselves, that we have little want. To forget that we give gifts to others in remembrance of the Gift given to us by God on this day of observation - a Gift not of obligation but of selfless Love.

I have been reminded today.

Yesterday, someone broke into a local warehouse of the Salvation Army. The thieves stole an estimated 450 toys that had been collected for needy children.

Can you think of anything more heartless?

There is a silver lining, though - and in God's always-cool way of handling things it's all worked out even better than before. In response to someone stealing from the hands of kids with nothing, now families many times over will be able to enjoy opening gifts on Christmas morning. By the end of the morning today, the community had responded to this sad event by working together to replace the stolen toys. Hundreds of people dropped off thousands of toys, opening their hearts and schedules to bring Christmas to families with so little.

This is Christmas Magic in action.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Earth Shattering Technology Answers Age Old Question

I just heard this on the nightly news and had to help spread the word.

For hundreds of years people have wondered why Mona Lisa is smiling. What is triggering this mysterious facial burst? What anomalous thought pattern was Da Vinci trying to channel? Well rest well tonight, for we now know!

The Mona Lisa has been evaluated by the latest in technological wonders - an emotion recognition software program, a collective development by researchers of the University of Amsterdam and the University of Illinios. And get this: They have concluded that she's smiling because she's happy.

WOW! Can you believe that? Thank goodness this study was performed. Who would have ever come up with that on their own?


Death Becomes Him

This one’s Chachi’s fault ;).

I’ve been fighting the urge to write about the whole Tookie Williams situation. I have been trying to keep my little place in blogland off of that because I have huge opinions about Tookie and Tookie-like folks and I really have enough going on in my life right now that I don’t need to give myself an aneurysm over hot button issues. I just want to relax when I hang out here, and I want you to as well.

However, you know me. I’m all sweet and stuff, but I have a mouth on me and I like to sound off.

So, I decided to resurrect a vintage editorial from my previous website, “Smell the Coffee”. This was my political and moral commentary site from about 5 years ago. Don’t go looking for it, it’s not up anymore because the host suddenly started trying to extort me out of a hundred bucks a year if I wanted to keep it up (I must have been generating too much traffic to be free ;D) and so I disabled it. But I did keep many of my rants saved to a disk. So I went hunting for it.

Alas and alack, I didn’t save that one. Too bad. I was on fire that day and didn’t mince any words. So in short I’ll just say, Goodbye, Tookie, and Good Riddance. It’s all well and good that you used your time in the clink to inspire inner city youth to turn their lives around and all, but you killed 4 people. You founded a gang movement that led to the deaths and living misery of only God knows how many others. The time for your redeeming reform was before all that happened.

Fear not though, Piece of Crap - you've left a legacy that will continue to spread like an aggressive cancer long after you're gone. Thanks!

Some people tell me I have no compassion. To them I say “Pththth.” My compassion lies with the victims and their families. Who, by the way, don’t get clemency from their fate. If you want to argue with me, feel free, but please let me know if you’d feel the same mercy if he had the blood of YOUR children spattered across his smug face.

Okay, I’m done. Sorry about that diversion from my typical warm and fuzzy meditations. :) Off to work now! It’s snowing and sleeting here today – Everyone else dealing with the same mess, drive safe!

For more brilliant head exploding fun regarding our political and social system, visit Chachi at The Spanktuary.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

O Tannenbaum

As we careen wildly toward the holiday, I’m beginning to make progress. I got a big chunk of my shopping done last night and getting that behind me alone is relaxing me. The Hub and I also got the tree hauled out and put up. It’s still standing naked in the living room, but it is up! (Yes, AC, I know fake trees are communist, but in its defense it is a really nice tree ;P).

I am an eclectic decorator. While I think trees done in department-store-perfect themes and color schemes are lovely, I prefer a homey feel for my own personal tree. We deeply weave hundreds of lights from trunk to branch tips, followed by draping several strands of faceted silver beads halfway in, to catch the light and make our tree even more shimmery. And then, the ritual of the ornaments. I have several boxes of the usual colored glass globes and the satin snowball ornaments. Our tree is large and these make nice fillers. But most items are individuals, very different from one another.

I started to collect bells for my tree several years ago. Not jingle bells, but the classic belfry-bell shape. I have two cloisonné bells, one with snowflakes, the other with holly. I have several character bells – angels, Santas, snowmen – their feet serving as clappers in a hollow skirt or overcoat. Bells with verses of poetry or scripture on them. Bells that tinkle merrily as I hang them. I love to get lost in my own little carol of the bells as I decorate my tree. In later years I’ve had a hard time finding working bell ornaments. I hope they come back into fashion soon.

I have commemorative ornaments with events and calendar years on them. Ornaments displaying favorite sports teams, hobbies, and collectibles. The little racecar from Toy Story that came in a Happy Meal and we turned into a tree decoration. Ornaments from vacation spots, and as souvenirs brought back by friends. A spider made of red and green beads, sitting on a silver thread web woven god’s eye-style, because I love spiders. Miniature power tool ornaments the Hub found at Sears. The resin pet ornament I found on line last year that looks just like Most Beautiful Dog. A crystal Star of the East. A fancy gold cross. The fuzzy bunny sitting in the crook of a candy cane – the ornament my Mom gave me for my first tree when I went away for college. Countless others, each unique and each meaningful.

I have a whole mess of cheesy cheap junky ornaments that I think I got for 5 for $1. A white plastic reindeer with an iridescent coating on it. Fake peppermint candies made of striped plastic wrap over chunks of Styrofoam. A shiny gold painted Santa Claus boot filled with toys. A sleigh with a half busted runner. A weird looking guy – maybe a soldier, maybe a jester, I’m not sure - made of colorful wooden beads. Things like that. I bought those our first Christmas together. We were both starting over – we’d just bought a house and we were so poor!

They’re really quite ugly, this certain collection (chuckle). But I hang them each year. Why? Because they are a part of our Christmas past. Pieces of the memories we have made and traditions we have established. When I look at my tree, the decorations take me back to past seasons, and I find myself reflecting fondly on where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and how blessed we are in so many ways.

Each year we add a few more items to the collection. I just bought a new train ornament, as Incrediboy is really into trains right now. He half murdered the little flag on top of it as we made our way to the checkout, but in typical Mom fashion, I see this as part if its charm now. I want to hang it each year forevermore in its gimpy, imperfect state, a victim of busy little hands. By next year I’m thinking we’ll be making things together to hang on the tree. Awkward, chunky, messy toddler decorations. Exquisitely beautiful in their own way.

I hope that someday every square inch of our tree will be donned with symbols of love and kindredship. Old and new, silver and gold. Plastic, resin, glass, paper, Popsicle sticks, glitter. These say home to me. These say, Merry Christmas with love.

Monday, December 12, 2005

PARENTING: Not for the Squeamish!

"I’ve been spanked with many things but my conscience causes the most pain." - Bigwhitehat

Some friends of ours have a little boy. A cute curly headed little boy … that no one can stand. See, this kid is a brat. He gets no correction, no discipline. He absolutely runs the show in his little world. His “id” has been allowed to grow unpruned, wild as kudzu and just as strangling. He’s so bad that his name has secretly become interchangeable with the word brat in certain circles.

It's not his fault. Kids behave how they are allowed to behave. His parents have failed him because they didn’t have the heart (or the kohones) to straighten him up. I feel sorry for him, really. And I feel sorry for the world when he reaches adulthood.

Incrediboy has been testing us. When he finds something he can do which he shouldn’t do, that elicits the right response from Mom and Dad (in other words, anything that triggers an insistent “No”), he’ll try it again. And again. To see just how much he can get away with. Done with that devil smile of his that makes you laugh if you’re not ready for it and therefore will completely discredit you.

Blossoming into his terrible two's, he’s certainly old enough to have responsibility and repercussions for his behavior enforced (at appropriate levels of comprehension), which let me tell you, is no fun for any of us.

Grounded in the footsteps of my ancestors, I have a loving but firm attitude toward discipline. I remember before I was a parent, when getting into discussions about children in general and disciplinary matters in particular, my friends with children would often belittle me. I can hear them still:

“You don't understand. Just wait till you have kids. It’s harder than you think – you won’t be so quick to crack down on them. You'll see!"

I had always thought at the time (and still do) that these were lame responses. Excuses given for themselves, for not being able to stand up to their children. For not having the backbone to do what was right. Kids need the guidance of their elders. They need to be taught what is acceptable and not acceptable. They count on us to teach them their life skills. Most importantly they need to know who’s boss, and that it isn’t them. And regardless of immediate reactions, children are much happier for it.

Don't get me wrong. It's impossible to make the right call all the time. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent, it’s that AS a parent it is very hard to know what to do at all times. If at any time. LOL. But to NOT give them the best guidance we can is a disservice to them.

I’ve come to realize that while it’s part due to experience (our experience as parents and our experience as former disciplined children) and part due to example (our own actions and behaviors speak volumes to them), it’s mostly about guts. Children need structure and they need consistency. And man, are they sharp on picking up details. Give in once and they know that it’s a possibility for future battles. React differently at different times, and you confuse them. Rules should be set in stone, non-negotiable and virtually inflexible. Kids don’t need to be afforded debates and bargains. They need to be taught “the law according to Dad and Mom” and have it consistently enforced and respected.

It takes more guts than you think.

... And yes, I freely admit! It is very difficult to wield your authority. To love someone so overpoweringly that it feels, as they say, that your heart is on the outside of your body - and not letting them have what they want, or do what they want. Administering consequences. Having the stern tone of your voice or the quick smack of their hand cause those giant tears to well up and spill out of big beautiful hurt eyes. To not crumble at the sorrowful embrace around your knee – it’s very hard. The hardest thing in the world. But it’s not a negotiable responsibility. It’s not something we can put off because we don’t feel like being the meanie. It must be done. For their instruction. For their safety. For their “own good”.

But more to the point, it’s the long-term goal that must be kept in focus. Discipline and guidance in childhood yields a grounded and well-adjusted adult. Not giving in to every tantrum will teach them to cope with life not always going their way. Teaching them manners and respect will help mold them into men and women who are prepared to function in society and appropriately interact with others. The payoff is later, and WAY more important than upsetting them for a short spell here and now.

We know there will be days that Incrediboy will resent us, maybe even genuinely hate us. It sours my stomach to even cast a quick thought upon that. But parenting isn’t a sprint, it’s a long distance run. Focus on the finish line, maintain the consistent pace. In time and by the grace of God, we will serve him well as his parents and he will appreciate it.

Hub and I agree, that while we strive to build and share a loving and fun relationship with our boy, the time to be his buddy is when he’s an adult. And that time will come, no doubt more quickly than we’ll expect.

Until then, much consistent and properly dispensed guidance, discipline, and encouragement needs incorporated in with the learning, laughter, and love.

Until then, we will wear our game face, and will not let him see us cry when we have to be the meanies.

The things we do for love.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


It’s snowing today. We’re supposed to get a good dump of the white stuff over the next few days. I love snow around the holidays, it makes things seem more festive. But in general, I’m not a big fan. Many people revel in the crisp fresh beauty – the cleanliness of the air after a snowfall and the bright glistening of the crystalline veil. I can appreciate this. And with Incrediboy's sense of endless wonder in the world, maybe I'll feel differently in general this year. But snow is more to me like nature’s nuclear fallout, blanketing over a dormant world, long since active and vibrant. The nail in the coffin of hope for fair weather. The punctuation at the end of a dead sentence.

I think I might suffer from that seasonal affective disorder. The holidays sustain my mood, but come January I begin to wilt, and by March I’m mentally climbing the walls with cabin fever and desperation for better days. I feel hungry and thirsty on a molecular level, and nothing seems to quench it until nature’s hibernation breaks and my skin can once again freely drink fresh air, warmth and sunlight.

In the depth of the winter season, I become the Earth – atrophied, stunted, and frozen. Snowflakes, in the form of days and motions, accumulate until I’m covered and lost beneath them. Walk by, even closely, and I bet you wouldn’t even see me there.

Monday, December 05, 2005

For Auld Lang Syne

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Auld lang syne - (n.) - The times gone past; the good old days. Scottish hymn of remembrance.
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I’ve been stressing because I haven’t gotten our portraits back from the Studio yet. They were supposed to be ready on the 30th – Then they were supposed to be in on the 2nd and now definitely on the 8th. URGH! Anyone who knows me will tell you this delay is just about enough to give me a massive stroke. It wouldn’t be half as bad if we didn’t use the portraits in our annual Christmas cards, for which I like to be the first person to get their cards out. So by the time I get them scanned, dropped in, printed and mailed, which will be the 9th at the earliest and probably more like the 10th or even the 12th because I have to write a little personal note in each card too because I’m all thoughtful that way and want all our loved ones to feel especially thought about … I know I won’t be the first. URGH!!!

I know, I’m the queen of anal-ness. (shrug)

To maximize my production time, I addressed all my envelopes this weekend so they’re ready. I have also bought a new address book that comes with a Christmas Card tracking list in the back. You can list your recipients, and there’s a box to check for whether you sent a card for said year, and if you received one. There are columns for about 5 years out. In the past I’ve simply kept my handwritten list of who I sent to in my address book, and kept hold of the previous year’s cards to have a rough idea of such. But this more efficient method of tracking seemed good, not to mention less cluttery.

I figured that this year’s list would be smaller than last years, as we kind of used Christmas cards as an excuse to notify people who didn’t already know that we’d moved that summer, but while reorganizing my address book and list, I came to the shocking realization that we still send cards to at least 75 different addresses. Holy moley! I didn’t even realize we knew that many people!

As I got to thinking about this, I noticed something. My husband has a large family, so we send a lot of cards out to family anyway. This is no problem. And of course there are people you send cards to because you just do. Coworkers, business and social organization associates, selected neighbors, old college roommates with whom a mutual understanding of busy-ness is held, things like that. But there are a lot of people on our list that we don’t even really talk to anymore. Some of the people, we don’t even really think about except at Christmas time. Yet we send cards year after year. Most are reciprocated, others are not. But we continue to send cards to old friends from high school we haven’t seen in years. People we used to run around with before we were parents and haven’t really seen since becoming. Old coworkers. The couple we met on vacation in 1999 and kept in regular touch with for a few years but never talk to anymore. A girl I was best friends with in 3rd grade who moved away and then I saw her wedding announcement in the paper 10 or 12 years ago because her parents moved back and so I dropped her a note. We wrote back and forth regularly for a while, then it dwindled down to a few times a year, and then just Christmas cards.

Something about the holidays gets us feeling very reflective. We remember the people belonging to the names in our address books (which is a lot for me since I tend to keep the same book and subsequently the same entries for a million years), and think back on the times we shared. We want to collectively reminisce with them, so we send a card. Sorry we haven’t been in touch, let’s get together in the new year, blah blah blah. Then the same thing in the following year’s card. Never having gotten together, written or talked.

I'm a sentimental fool, that's the problem. I hate to get rid of anything that was dear to me, especially friends. But perhaps it’s time to look at our Christmas list with the old adage of packing for a move – if you haven’t touched it in a few years, chances are you won’t even miss it. Not that I wouldn’t miss these people, but they aren’t really even around anyway ...

I have a theory about friendship. People who are supposed to be in your life will be in your life. We often drift apart for various reasons, and that’s natural. When one or the other is inspired to rekindle the friendship, get back in touch, sometimes that’s all it takes. If it doesn’t happen naturally, then maybe their role in your life is over, for now anyway. So why is it sometimes difficult to actually cross that name off the list? Is breaking the chain somehow, in our minds, admitting that these once meaningful relationships never were meaningful? Does it mean that if I don’t send a card, that I will lose that part of myself? Of course not. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting or that all shared that was once valued is no more. It just means, “Vaya con Dios”. Still, I know I will trim my list with great regret about many of the cuts.

But that's a task for next year. This year, I'll give everyone one more chance to love us back.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Holiday Crunch!

I haven't had much time to blog lately ... holiday prep, Christmas cards, month end closeout ... Life is getting in the way! Until I return, I thought I'd share this little movie - just in case you haven't seen it yet. This is truly one of the funniest things I've seen in a while - I've watched it probably 25 times and I laugh my butt off every time! These two boys are having a good time with their silly selves :) ... Their facial expressions are priceless. And the choreography - well, you'll just have to see for yourself!

(P.S. I love this song, but don't tell anybody.)

Hope everyone is well!