Monday, December 31, 2007

Stupid Alarm

Athena had some issues sleeping last night. Consequently, so did Chris and I.

Actually, I can't be sure it was all Athena. I think I noticed Chris come back to bed at least once last night, and I have no idea if that was to take care of Marcus or Athena... I never heard either one of them cry.

But shortly after he came in, Athena pattered in all smiley and expectant. It was 4am and she was intending to crawl into bed with Daddy. I led her back to her room instead.

She was obviously tired, but awake, nonetheless, so I tried to get her to relax. I thought she was drifting off, so I exited, only to be pulled back in her room 15 minutes by her wails and moans.

She dropped off very quickly this second time, and I came back to bed. I was seriously into my REM sleep when the stupid alarm went off. It was hard work to rouse myself completely and get out of bed, but I managed to accomplish it in a half hour or so, knowing that if I waited much longer than that, I'd be seriously late to work.

It wasn't until I got into the shower that I realized I have to start my day at another library today, and don't really need to be there until 8:15, which means I probably could have waited another half hour (beyond when I actually got up) to get out of bed.

Stupid alarm.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

So This is Christmas

Well, the house is returning to normal now. We still have a kickass gingerbread house downstairs (thanks to a marvelous kit from Target and my darling husband and daughter who put it together). We are also now one Game System richer since my mother bought Chris an X-Box 360. My condition for the new system was that we have games for the kids too. Currently, Chris is downstairs teaching Athena to play Viva Pinata. I'll go observe that in a moment, once I know MC MC is truly asleep.

We had a wonderful day yesterday, and we also took advantage of today. Both Chris and I were off work and the daycare was open. So we did what any good parents would do, and we shuffled them off to school. Call us evil, if you wish, but let's face it... routines are good for kids... so why break the routine? It allowed us to nap, go see Sweeney Todd, and even play a little Lego Star Wars on the aforementioned game console. Then we got the little man some stylin' new shoes and went to Five Guys for burgers.

I can't believe my five-day weekend is already over. It seemed to be gone in a flash. However, I think I can handle two days at work. Then two days off. Then one day at work. Then another day off. Not bad, really.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas From the Toddler!

When I came in from work Tuesday night, Chris informed me that Athena helped him wrap my Christmas present. She also wrote her name on the card with minimal help from her. We agreed that she obviously is a supergenius, and we patted ourselves on the back and retired for the evening.

Cut to next morning, when we are getting ready for school/work. As we get downstairs, Athena runs to the tree, flipping the switch on the way to turn it on.

ATHENA: Mommy! You have a present under the tree!
MOMMY: Really? Cool. I can't wait until Christmas so I can open it.
ATHENA: You want to see it Mommy?
MOMMY: I can see it, honey. You need to leave it under the tree.
ATHENA: It's sparkly books!
DADDY: Oh, no you DI'INT!
MOMMY: *laughing* She did!
DADDY: But we had an understanding!

Fortunately, I'm not sure what "sparkly books" actually entails. So now I'm even more intrigued. But I did enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Through a Child's Eye

Being a working mom, and a generally lazy person, I don't decorate for holidays much. I do know that as the kids get older, I will need to do more for most holidays because I am tasked with providing them glorious childhood memories and family traditions that will all come across to others as blatant neuroses when they are adults. But for now, I'm still a bit set in my non-decorating ways because of the "lazy" bit. It seems like a lot of effort to put out a whole bunch of crap (even if it is pretty or cute) just for me and Chris, and about six other close family members on Christmas Day. And the kids weren't really old enough to be concerned with it.

In previous years, we have used our annual holiday party as a reason/motivation to adorn the interior of the house with baubles and trinkets and trees. We have 50 friends over, and therefore the return on investment for that decorating time increases. This year, however, for several reasons, we have postponed our holiday party until January, thus eliminating any urgency in the decorating.

I have barely started my Christmas shopping this year, which is also odd for me, but is completely related to the same factors... my work schedule, my kids' schedule, and my inherent laziness. I will be shopping Tuesday morning before I go into work, and I will be shopping Friday when I am off for the time I will be putting in on Saturday. This has me pretty stressed out, coupled with the fact that our bank account is once again empty and we have once again, despite my efforts to the contrary, re-acquired some credit card debt.

I also cook the Christmas meal for my immediate family and, with any luck, my mom and my inlaws. I'd even love it if we threw a friend or two into the mix. Although I really enjoy the cooking, it is also stressful and can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, this year I have Dream Dinners, and so most of the work is done already.

All that to say that my vision of Christmas now is not really one of pure joy. But I do believe that is changing. Athena has discovered Christmas completely and wishes to immerse herself in it. Over a week ago, Chris and I were chastised from the back seat of the mom-mobile as we drove into our neighborhood:

"When are we getting our Christmas tree?"
"Soon, honey. Why?"
"Everyone in the other houses has their Christmas tree already."

Lovely. I didn't have the heart to tell her that hell would freeze over before either her father or I will be getting up on a ladder to adorn our house with little twinkly lights, which is what she was really observing. But we did assure her that a tree was forthcoming.

Chris pulled our tree out this weekend. Several years ago after a particularly bad "Christmas Light Incident" (or CLI), I purchased a pre-lit tree. I never have owned (as an adult) a real tree, as they make me physically ill, and my black thumb would render a live tree dead within about two days anyway. With Chris' allergies, it would probably kill him... so we have a fake tree.

And now we have a fake tree with lights.

And we love it.

Yeah, verily. Amen.

Fortunately for us, Athena seemed pleased as well. As Chris struggled to get the thing pieced together, Athena helpfully pointed out the "A" tag and the "B" tag. Clearly, having a fake tree is strengthening my daughter's engineering skills. We are such good parents to have a fake tree for her. Let us give ourselves a pat on the back.

Once we got the tree up, several things called us away from it. I was baking a pie, Marcus was filling his diaper with shocking ferocity, and we were making a genuine effort to clean the downstairs portion of our house in our constant effort to actually present guests with a house that does not look like the Town of Apex should come immediately and board it up. Athena, however, used this opportunity to practice her new big word: ornaments.

"I want to put the ormaments on the tree!"
"Or NA ments, dear."
"That's what I said! Or Ma ments!"
*Sigh* "We'll do it in a minute. Let's wait for... (fill in the blank with various activities) to be done and we'll all do it together."

Finally, after several episodes of Backyardigans and with Chris and Marcus upstairs doing laundry, I gave in and said that we could start and I'm sure dad and the little guy would be down soon to help. (Mind you, there are few things Chris finds more tortuous that decorating a Christmas tree).

I don't have very many fragile ornaments. I do have a few, all with some sort of sentimental significance, but for the most part, all of my ornaments are pretty sturdy. This is an example of ornament Darwinism. I only keep items with some personal value to them, and over the years, I have dropped many. Our cats have destroyed even more. So I am left with a fair number of sturdy ornaments and one or two really lucky delicate ones. I wasn't sure how my little preschooler would handle these ornaments, but I also have a pretty good detatchment from "stuff" and I'm willing to sacrifice one or two more delicate ornaments for the sake of letting her develop her self-esteem and fine-motor skills.

I'm pleased to say that my concerns were unfounded. After timidly only handing me a few ornaments to hang on the tree because she "couldn't," she found my Disney ornaments and began choosing ornaments that she had to hang herself because I clearly couldn't do it right. Soon, she was dashing from the box to the tree, placing ornaments and gently hanging them all over. This left all the delicate ones for me, with the exception of a working bell, which Athena felt had to rest low on the tree so she could ring it at every opportunity. Which she does. You would be amazed at how many opportunities present themselves. But I digress...

(The ringing! Make it stop!!!)

Suddenly, decorating the tree was fun again. I hate that Chris missed it, because he might have actually enjoyed it a little. Athena was diligent in her efforts to get all ornaments on the tree. We discovered one was broken and one had no hook, so those stayed off the tree. For hours after, she would ask about the ornament with no hook and the Minnie Mouse with a broken leg, and I would have to assure her that I will (A) find a hook for the former and (B)find the crazy glue for the latter.

Last night, she noticed that we have no star on the tree. I don't own a star for many reasons. I had a homemade angel treetopper my mother made in the late seventies or perhaps early eighties from aluminum and quilled paper, but that was either destroyed or is lost in one of the boxes in the garage. I haven't had it since before Chris and I married if I remember correctly. I have been using a bird that I've had since I was a little girl that has little wires attached to the feet and can be fastened at the top of the tree. I like it for lots of reasons, but mostly because it's something I remember from when I was young.

So when Athena asked about our star (or lack thereof), I immediately decided that she and I will find a star together... after Christmas when they are on sale, of course.

Some traditions are better than others, and waiting to buy Christmas stuff until AFTER Christmas is definitely one of the better traditions.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Magic of Holiday Television

Chris tells me that Athena saw Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the first time last night while I was at work. She loved it. Personally, I'm surprised Chris sat through it without having seizures... but he makes amazing sacrifices of his own personal tastes for his children every day.

Presently, she is enthralled by Santa Claus is Coming to Town. You know... the one with Fred Astaire? And it was almost scary to see the transformation. She switched from frantic toddler to silent tv zombie within two of the opening number's notes. Astonishing.

Of course, she's pissed off about the commercials. Thanks to Disney Channel and Noggin, she is not used to her program being interrupted by annoying people selling her stuff. So while a commercial is on, she fidgets and frets, and then the show resumes and she settles into contented silence. Freaky mind control, that tv.

Anyway, I've been looking forward to this for several years now. Athena has been too young to actually pay attention to these classics of the holidays in past years. But now, she is just as thrilled by them as I was. This is what having kids is all about... sharing those traditions and ... wait a minute... have you seen these shows lately? They are kind of bad! I mean, that stop motion that seemed so cool... it's almost creepy. Eyes bug out. Mouths form really bizarre expressions....

Well, at least she's enjoying it. Don't think I can sit and watch with her though. I'll get nightmares. *shudder*

Monday, December 03, 2007

What Not To Wear; or, a Fashion Intervention

I have no sense of style. It's not that I don't long to be stylish. Although perhaps I could honestly say that I'm not really "INto" fashion. I can't read those Cosmo-esque magazines about how to simplify your morning beauty routine, or how best to pluck your eyebrows. I refuse to do the latter (who came UP with that idea, anyway?) and as to the former... my morning routine is as follows:

Towel Dry
Brush Teeth
Comb wet hair
Get Dressed

After that, chaos ensues and we shuffle the kids off to school. Really, CAN you simplify that morning routine? There's nothing there I feel comfortable skipping.

All that said, I also am tired of being frumpy and old. I'm neither of those things inside, and I'm tired of it not being apparent from the outside. Worse than that, I am starting to resemble that librarian stereotype that I detest so much. So I decided to start addressing my wardrobe, a few pieces at a time. At first, I was doing this by going to Target and trying to find some things that were hipper... cooler... not knit shirts from 1992 (the bulk of my former wardrobe).

And I did find a few things.

And after one washing, nothing fit right anymore... assuming it really fit right to begin with, which is questionable. And therein lies the problem. I am not a fit model. Everything is short on me, or I can't possibly squeeze into it. Because apparently, if you are short, you have really long legs for some reason, and if you are tall (like me) you have stubby little legs. Consequently, a size 16 will not fit over my thigh, but will be long enough, but an 18 hangs off my waist and stops at my mid-ankle area. So attractive.

When I was in New York, I was talking to my sister (who IS a fashionista) about these problems and mentioned how much I wish designers would design for "healthy" women. She took me to Eileen Fisher.

My mom bought me a pair of pants there. My sister bought me a sweater, and I bought myself a tunic that was on sale. I wore them to work at various times after that, and I ALWAYS got compliments on them. Every time I wore them. One person I work with actually told me I should wear the tunic every day. Well! That's addicting, ain't it?!

So I mentioned to my sister and my mom that I was going to start investing in REALLY nice clothes, a piece at a time. I can't AFFORD to dress designer, but apparently I can't afford not to. Either I spend $15 on a shirt I can only wear three times before it tugs around my chest, or I spend $80 for one that will last forever.

So I resolved to buy only things that are well-made, comfortable, and designed to fit. Tailored even. And in ten years, I should have a whole new wardrobe and won't look like a frump. In response, my mom and sister... both so elated that I was suddenly showing a sliver of concern about my looks... staged an intervention while we were in San Francisco. We returned to Eileen Fisher where mom bought me a new wardrobe. Then we moved on to Cole Haan, where my sister bought me two pairs of shoes (black and brown... since they were so "reasonably priced.") I felt like Stacy and Clinton were just going to pop out of the wordwork and throw out everything in my closet. (My sister DID make me promise to get rid of the jeans that I was wearing that day. Believe it or not, they were too short.)

The result is, I now have no excuse. We had most of the stuff shipped back except for the jeans (which I bought myself) and the shoes. Everything arrived today in one box (13 pounds of clothes) and I've got it all in the closet. My "New Me" project officially started today, when I wore the sweater I bought back in August, along with the new jeans and the new shoes. Sure enough, I wasn't in the building more than ten minutes when the sweater scored a compliment from a coworker. Just after lunch, the jeans got one. The JEANS!

Watch out, world... here comes Yummy Mummy Librarian!