the loot

(Here’s mine last year – for reference).

Hogabooms:

  • traditional Christmas pajamas, opened Christmas Eve (Ralph did PJ reconnaissance)
  • 2 x glue sticks, marker set, fingerpaints, scissors, construction paper, watercolor and fingerpaint pads (from my parents)
  • this crazy-assed fucking popcorn that has chocolate, pretzel sticks, and craisins and is just… insanely tasty (from my parents)

Ralph:

Kelly

  • 1 package Newman’s Own caramel cups (in stocking, courtesy of Ralph)
  • Candle card (made by Sophie at preschool): “Dear Mama, You have a present – so much that I bet you would like to see it!”
  • video iPod – aw yeah, I just slip it in there all casual-like! (from Ralph)
  • Homegrown teas, Italian seasoning mix, and blueberry jam (grown / made by my mom)

The kids:

  • Kitchen set – pots, pans, and spatulas etc. (from me)

Sophie:

  • Monster finger puppet (googly-eyed), toy helicopter bath toy, tie-dye panties, monkey bubblebath (in stocking)
  • 3 x white socks (from Ralph)
  • Bug case with 2 types of magnification (It’s science!)
  • I SPY Mystery book (from my dad)
  • Brown and black ribbed tights (from Ralph)
  • 3 X panties, black and white tights (from my parents)
  • 6 x socks (from my mom)

Nels:

  • Monster finger puppet (crab monstrer), wind-up robot, tie-dye briefs, fish bubblebath (in stocking)
  • Boat bath-toy (from Mama)
  • Drawing of Christmas tree and “Scary Hand” (by Sophie)
  • How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (from my dad)
  • 6 x socks, 6 x briefs (from my mom)
  • 3 x undershirts (from Ralph)
  • 6 x briefs (from Ralph)

Gee, see a pattern? Socks and underwear for the kids, particularly for Nels (thirteen pair of knickers!) who is going to think of Christmas as a holiday all about “big boy pants”. I am proud to say my children really enjoyed my presents. Nels played with his tiny windup robot ($1.50 at a local shop) for hours.

Other Christmas loot of note:

  • An all-day adventure to the Pacific Science Center on Saturday, all-expenses paid (from Cynthia and Paige)
  • A great conversation with my sister on Christmas Eve
  • Many lovely cards (some handmade) from friends
  • A Christmas Day run at the track (courtesy of iPod and my beloved Beyonce)

new kinds of festive rituals

Today I stumbled upon pictures of our foursome from the last two Christmases at the little cottage that we rented in Cannon Beach, Oregon. I grew inexplicably misty thinking of our mini-tradition away from home; the familiarity of the Christmas-lit shops, the beauty of the wind-torn beach, the familiar pub a block down from our home away from home. Our trip back up two years ago where Sophie rode with my parents and they reported she spent half of the ride viciously giving her new stuffed animal (Goodebunny) discipline: hissing “Do you want a timeout?” in the meanest duck voice possible. The fun of the Oregon lack of salestax which allowed our $5 Christmas rules to be observed de rigueur.

For us this year, Christmas is being celebrated in an increasingly unusual fashion; never mind we are not in Oregon, we are also (for the first time in my life) without my FOO. I was sad for half a car ride (as I talked it out with my husband) until I re-oriented myself to my own little family and the projects therein. Now I feel a sense of wonderment as the holiday gently spirals out of my control and out of my plan. The plan to have a series of packages mailed out to closest friends? Derailed. Presents entirely handmade? No. A Christmas dinner complete with guests? Cancelled. I did manage (with minimal help from my spouse) to send out our homemade Christmas cards (every year, after careful selection, addition, and culling, we hover at sixty to seventy cards), our own tradition that we enjoy immensely. About half of the changes in our Christmas routine were due to my illness which put me out of the running for a solid three days (and I’m just glad no one else in my family got sick).

With an absence of Christmas precedents in effect, new activities must be planned. In that vein today ended up being beautiful, but rather exhausting. The first thing I did this morning was a (near-)three mile hike with Erica (I got to see her “new” baby to boot). As soon as I got home my husband took to a full shopping day with a friend and I found myself gifted with my children (who I am growing so familiar with as to not even contemplate alone time much anymore) to run my errands. First, the once-a-week menu planning, shopping list, and grocery (which included a large Christmas Day dinner plan) then the entireity of my family gift shopping downtown in torrential rain – half the time, with one increasingly-heavy child sleeping on my shoulder.

Christmas pajamas have been opened and donned. We have taken the drive to our town’s “Candy cane lane” to look at the lights. The stockings are up. One million presents remain to be wrapped and inserted under the tree (actual number will be reported tomorrow). Thank you baby Jesus and happy holidays, one and all!

a special type of resentment

This morning I took the kids out to their favorite park, as requested. It felt like it had been quite some time since I’d had fresh air. Perhaps because we had been snow-bound for a while, or perhaps because my children and I have moved into a different phase in our life together, the three of us had a very harmonious hour and a half on the park grounds (read: they let me go to the bathroom without drowning themselves in the sea; Nels did not run away in the opposite direction of Sophie *every single chance he got*, I actually listened to and followed the suggestions of my wee ones instead of barking out orders while clutching my precious, precious coffee). I attended them in the childish activities that to many must look boring: swings, monkey-bar spotting (my son copies everything his older sister does, no matter how terrifying to himself or me), leaf-scuffing, creek bed exploring. Instead of fervently hoping for another Mama to join me, or allowing my mind to race about thinking of chores I have to do, beans to soak, toilets to scrub, I just accepted I was not doing any of those things *now* and I really attended my little ones. I sat, swung, walked with them. We ate lovely, heavenly fresh hearth rolls from the uptown bakery and they took my breath away with the beauty that bloomed on their rosy cheeks and noses.

I find myself begrudging how quickly my children are growing up. Why do I ever want any stage, any difficulty, to end? I should desire and hold onto everything, and I mean everything. The late nights, the crying, the clinging at naptime. A year ago I was breastfeeding my son and could still remember, vividly, breastfeeding and diapering my daughter. Now I am adrift, afloat, no longer a physical necessity except in my performance of slave labor (daily) that I now have learned to love. Now. My children are both potty-trained, both weaned, and I am ten pounds heavier in part because every day I think of, shop, buy, and prepare their food. And I make no milk. No nursing; I realized the other day with a small, angry mix of pride and sadness that *just anyone* could take care of my children now (although, of course, no one else really does). I suppose this was true from the day they were born, but my unique gifts of my milk, my love, my voice, my intelligence, my body, and the pain in the ass of a diapered child somehow kept them more within my exclusive realm. Now I know they are growing upward and onward, and although they will always remained tethered to me and I have formed a Goddess-image for them – they will need me less and less. It is time for them to take flight a little more and for me to pull back into myself, my art, my work, my marriage – just enough to not resent their going.

As I type this my children, back from a fancy-festive Christmas party, are putting together their new Christmas gifts (note that Nels’ comes with a key-fob so you can take your precious pets with you – “up to 18 hours” and I don’t have to tell you what happens after 18 hours). With dad’s help, of course.

in a glass case of emotion

Well, I am feeling wretched today – it seems December, in two days, has already brought a share of disappointments. So I was oddly cheered when I discovered about five minutes ago that I have actually recieved something like *four comments* on my sewing blog (I’m not really sure how anyone finds it either – I lost my links at this oft-visited page and have been too lazy to put them up). Right now I have no camera (except my assy iSight on the Mac – a camera that always includes my rather messy and grungy laundry room background) so my sewing and knitting efforts (re-conn’d pants! left-handed knitting!) have gone undocumented.

But sadly, at this moment the more depressing circumstances in my life are overcoming the good. My parents won’t be around for Christmas while my remaining immediate family member – my brother (viewed here with hospital bracelet regarding an episodic severe intestinal illness) told me he’d rather have Christmas by himself, my husband doesn’t seem to care how much I am sad about not being with my FOO. Two friends have gone AWOL while I worry about their personal circumstances, one friend broke up with me, my older child is ill, and my younger child is growing out of his clothes too fast. And last but not least, Blogger Beta is acting like a gay and our bank account will be hitting bottom on Monday with four days left until payday.

Wow, it actually did not make me feel better to write that all out. Anyone interested in keeping me from throwing myself in front of a fast-moving train, feel free to send me a cheer-up email. Or barring that, a train schedule.

Today while the children napped (like canaries, their sleep-response seems proportionate to daylight) my husband and I wandered around the house, bored, ineffectual, too lazy to jump into our typical uber-housecleaning weekend frenzies. I was too cold and he was too warm (as usual) and we had carefully not over-scheduled our weekend – so now we had nothing to do. This afternoon while I cut out a pair of flannel pajamas he ventured into the attic to pull a cheesy-ass tinsel tree (via Freecycle) and thrift store lights out of the attic. Our now-garish living room awaits the awakening of the oldest child (yes, she is STILL napping, at almost 7 PM!) who will doubtless be thrilled at our impressively “festive” living room. Now that my knitting is caught up I am currently searching for an *easy* sock pattern for Sophie and feeling overwhelmed at the idea of assembling Christmas presents together this year.

Looks like it’s lumps of coal for many of you.

on the brink of a minor exodus

This morning at 7:30 I slip out from between my two children as they sleep. Like magnets they click together and resume their mutual slumber. Into the kitchen, start the coffee. Turn up the heat. For the second morning in a row, I stand at the window of my sewing room and smoke a half a cigarette. I take a quick shower, wipe down the bathroom floor, and put my clothes and towel in the laundry.

I peek in the bedroom and my children still sleep. In the kitchen, still in my towel, I make and put a puff-pankcake in the oven and set the timer. I have been baking hot food for breakfast the last few days, too. Yesterday was corn pudding, the extra portions of which I shared with two good friends.

Today I will be in charge of finishing packing the family’s clothes and toiletries, rolling up freshly-washed sleeping bags and putting the rain boots in the car. I will also balance our checkbook, finish the laundry (which includes, rather oddly, a large rubber snake that was inadvertantly peed on by Nels), put cat food and water out, buy our Thanksgiving groceries (mercifully only a two-store stop), pick up a gift for my sister’s birthday and wrap it, and buy buttons and ribbon for clothes I finsi. And maybe – just maybe, if I have time – finish sewing a pair of pants for my son.

Today after my husband gets off work we will venture out on Highway 101 for an hour and a half’s drive to my family’s cabin at Mason Lake. My great-grandfather built it, and it’s a log fucken cabin – not a “cabin” that is actually a cute little condo (although many of our neighbors have “upgraded” to such forms of vacation dwellings). I have mixed feelings about the cabin. Amongst them are an antipathy toward the legacy of my grandmother’s (gone four years now) authoritarian regime and grandfather’s (my lone surviving grandparent) patrician assholian nature. I also feel a slight skin-crawl at my own mother’s crowing pride at the place, which is really a kind of ugly lumpy edifice and includes such things as a “deer-hoof coatrack”. But I am still glad it’s there and if it passes out of my family’s hands in this lifetime I will miss it.

As I type this the house is filling with an eggnog-y smell and hums with the dryer. Sometimes I wish I could wake up to a mom in the house.

the beginning of barfy holiday posts

OK, now that we’re about three seconds into the month of October, it’s time to bring out my pathetic way-too-into-Halloween self.

Sophie, Halloween two years ago:

Halloween last year:

Sophie and Ralph’s punkin carvin’ this afternoon:

I was going to post pictures of my husband’s new fall mustache attempt. But it is really so filthy I can’t bring myself to do it.