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2006 December

A Holiday in Numbers

December 30, 2006

Distance I have walked in my kitchen alone over the past week: 150 miles

Distance I need to walk in order to burn off the all the cookies I have been eating: 1.4 million miles

Number of times I have gone to the bathroom, sat down, only to hear the over timer go off: 3

Number of times I have yelled to one of the (big) kids to remove the tray from the oven: 2

Number of times they removed the tray of unbaked cookies from the wrong oven, leaving the other ones to burn: 2

Number of times I have said, “Watch out!” “It’s hot!” “Don’t get burned!” or some variation thereof: 200

Number of burns sustained during the cookie baking extravaganza: 3

Number of those burns on the children: 0

Hours I slept on Christmas Eve: 3

Probability that someone would be sick on Christmas: 100%

Actual number of sick children: 3

Probability that it would be the children who are the most needy and will demand to be held constantly with no regard to the fact that I have a meal to prepare and a house full of guests coming: 100%

Hours spents wrapping presents: 20

Hours spent unwrapping presents: .50

Toys that came broken in the box and needed to be returned: 2

Number of cookies I froze after Christmas Day so that I would not be tempted to eat them all: 280 (in ziploc bags of 14 each)

Probability that I will end up eating 14 frozen cookies while standing in the pantry with the freezer door open: 99.99% (I am forever optomistic that I will develop some self control)

Number of hours spent preparing for Christmas: unable to be determined

Number of happy, smiling faces that make all the effort worthwhile: 7

Probability that I will do it all again, exactly the same way, next year: 100%

Happy 2007 Everyone!

(I have a post up over on my other blog (link here) about our family tradition of building a gingerbread house,with recipe, on New Year’s Eve. We keep celebrating the Christmas season until January 6th, Epiphany, you know the whole Twelve Days of Christmas? I can’t tell you how much it irks me to see people taking down their Christmas decorations the day after Christmas. Maybe if they didn’t start decorating in October they wouldn’t be sick of them yet. I sort of feel like the time leading up to Christmas is stressful with all the prepartions that need to be done, the shopping, the expectations, and that the period after Christmas is really a wonderful time to reconnect and have fun.)

Posted by Chris @ 10:38 am | 30 Comments  

a new addition to the family

newest member of the family

It is probably pathetic the level of excitement I have over a vacuum.

Posted by Chris @ 12:08 am | 55 Comments  

forgiveness is the new black

December 28, 2006

I have been searching for the words to write about the Christmas experience with my mother. I could just write that it was fine. We ate ham and potatoes and opened presents while the children ran around. And I drank wine. But there is more to say.

I had several ah-ha kind of moments during the day, several times where I quietly reflected on things that my mother was saying or doing, several times where I wondered why her words were saying more to me than she intended. Several times I mentally patted myself on the back for holding my tongue, whether or not I actually deserved the self-congratulatory pat.

At one point I was standing next to my mother when she noticed a painting of mine hanging on the wall. She got up close to it, saw the signature on the bottom right hand corner and exclaimed, “I didn’t know you painted!”

I didn’t even have time to stammer out my answer before she began talking about how she has taken up painting. And how her mother had been a painter. And how interesting it was that we were all so much alike.

I bristled at the comparison to the two of them. I am not like you, I wanted to shout. The old angry me would have. The old angry me was was only concerned with being heard (loudly), being right (even if I wasn’t), and well, being angry.

I was the master grudge holder. Anger was my little black dress, perfect for any occassion. Dress it up, dress it down, accessorize it with sarcasm or insults thinly veiled by humor.

I have always heard about this elusive thing called forgiveness that other people talk about. How healing it was to forgive people who have hurt you. Oh yes, their entire family might have been slaughtered and cannibalized but they have forgiven the person. And they feel so much better now that they have let go of their anger.

The old angry me laughed at the notion and said, Fuck that! I am angry! I have a right to be angry! And you will acknowledge my anger even if I have to beat you over the head with it and make myself miserable in the process.

But somehow I discovered this Christmas that the old angry me no longer fits. Much like that well loved little black dress that is no longer flattering and maybe a bit uncomfortable that I keep hanging in the closet. I try it on every now and then before deciding ultimately to wear something else.

This time I didn’t point out to my mother that I majored in Studio Art with a concentration in painting in college. I didn’t say that any worthwhile and semi-involved mother would have known that. I didn’t say anything but acknowledge that yes, I do paint. And amazingly there was a freedom in offering that grace. Who knew?

I know she sucked as a mother. She knows she sucked as a mother. There is no reason to remind her at every opportunity.

I’d like to come off as being completely selfless, but honestly every time I wear the “old angry me” I am also wearing the “victim” as well. The two are woven together so tightly they cannot be unraveled.

I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor. And that small shift in thinking is what has allowed me to to extend grace and forgiveness.

And isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas? The offering of grace and forgiveness when none is really deserved.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I had a better Christmas than I thought I was going to have. I gave the best gift to myself.

Posted by Chris @ 11:55 am | 78 Comments  

christmas in photos

December 27, 2006

It just wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without the procrastination and wondering if it will be done in time. THis year my oldest kids helped. I took this photo at 1:00 am.

Christmas morning around 1:00am

Gone are the days when the presents took over the entire room. Now they are small and cost ten times as much. iPods should really come in HUGE boxes for Christmas.


He actually put himself back to bed after he opened his presents. Who has ever heard of such a thing?

He's a little tired

Conspicuous consumerism:

A small forest died for this paper

His older brothers were so happy to see him excited on Christmas morning since they helped set it up the night before.

Playing with Thomas

So they can look at legos online until their eyes glaze over. And to think I had to wait over 30 years to get my first laptop.

Santa was good to them

Posted by Chris @ 3:47 pm | 20 Comments  

pre Christmas conversation

Rob: “I was checking our credit card balance online and noticed that there was a charge from Radio Shack the other day. Did you buy something at Radio Shack?”

Me: “Why are you checking the credit card balance right before Christmas? Why?”

Rob: “I don’t know. Because I am an anal retentive freak who obsessively checks account balances and likes to know where every cent goes.”

(Ok maybe I made the anal retentive freak part up in my head, but it is true.)

Me: “Ok, so drop it.”

Rob: “I just want to make sure someone didn’t steal our credit card….”

Me: “And go crazy spending $50 at Radio Shack?”

“Did you buy something at Radio Shack?”

Me: “Yesssssssss. Drop it now.”

Rob: “But what did you buy there? It just doesn’t seem like a store you would shop at?”

Me: “I just borrowed something from to wrap for you for Christmas. After all these years I have come to accept the inevitable that you will return whatever presents you get.”

Rob: “Oh, that’s not true.”

Me: “Uh, yes it is.”

Rob: “Ok. It’s the thought that counts, right?”

Posted by Chris @ 3:32 pm | 10 Comments  

santa, it’s me…

December 23, 2006

Posted by Chris @ 10:36 pm | 25 Comments  

A cheeky little engine

December 22, 2006

The pellets for our wood burning stove come in 40lb bags. Only about 30 of those pounds fit into the stove hopper at one time. This means that there is perpetually a bunch of pellets that need to be temporarily stored somewhere. I originally bought a cute black metal bucket-y thing for this purpose.

But I quickly discovered that the little pellets were too fun for digging through, throwing at people, annd squirreling away in jean pockets. So I began the ultra classy look of keeping the bag next to the stove with the top rolled down, unless I am feeling particularly crazy and put the bag inside the metal bucket-y thing.

Last night Rob got home from work at 11:00pm. We were talking for a little while when I noticed the stove had gone out. We decided to fill it back up and then head upstairs to read before we went to sleep. When I opened the stove I noticed it still had pellets in it. Hmmmmmm, I thought, how weird.

So I stuck my hand inside and stirred the pellets around. And what do you know… Thomas the Tank Engine was stuck in the auger.

I pulled Thomas out and had a little chuckle. (I should point out that only I had the chuckle. Rob would like it known that he does not think it was at all amusing and thinks Miles is a spoiled little boy, not a baby, and that I am creating a monster by laughing at everything he does.)

Miles had put the Thomas in the bag of pellets, unbeknownst to me, which I then poured into the stove.

We tried to restart the stove but it wouldn’t work.

So we cleaned it out really really well, using all the vacuum attachments, thinking that this might make it happy. Nope.

So the we did what any “sane” people who fancy themselves handy do. We took the stove apart and stared at the mysterious inner workings and speculated about what could possibly be wrong. In a way that only people with zero knowledge of what they are talking about can do. Then I poked it a few times with a pointy screwdriver.

“Chris, I’m not sure you want to do that.”

“Why? What’s the worst that can happen?”

“Uh, electrocution.”

“Bring it on. At least it will warm me up. All toasty like.”

I was stuck with the task of calling for a repair person. Which meant I was going to have to use the phone, which I loathe. And then I was going to have to answer to Rob if I couldn’t find someone to come out immediately, because he would be certain that I was not friendly enough on the phone.

And so today I am sitting here waiting for a call back from a service person, hoping that they will be able to come soon. Or at least before Christmas. I hope that my offer of a blow-job was nice enough. I periodically rub my hands together in an effort to warm them, though the children seem unaffected and unaware that it is at least 20 degrees colder in the house than normal.

My daughter is splayed across my lap wearing her sleeveless princess dress that she is positive she needs to wear to go see Santa today, and I am even more positive that she does not.

My 9 yr old asked if he should tell Santa to bring us a new stove. Nah, I told him, just ask Santa to bring us a reliable repairman before Christmas. Preferrably a gay one.

Posted by Chris @ 10:05 am | 25 Comments  


December 20, 2006

On my long, long to do list I have crossed off one item.

I have ordered a new battery for my laptop. A girl has to have priorities you know.

Other things that I have accomplished that were not on my list:

Load all garbage into the back of the van to bring to the dump. Arrive at the dump 5 minutes after it closed for the day.

Clean green magic marker off of the every wall that my 2 yr old happened to walk by while I was busy folding laundry and not keeping my eagle eyes on him.

Clean green magic marker off of all visible skin on the same 2 yr old. Lament the fact that he shoved the magic marker deep inside of his ear where I can not reach with a washcloth and now it looks as though he has some sort of green fugus growing there. On the plus side, the grandparents will LOVE it and it will give them something to talk about after they leave.

Throw green marker away in fit of anger.

Clean up broken snow globe from my ever dwindling snow globe collection. Perfect my martyr routine by whining and ranting about how I can never have anything nice.

Mentally berate self for acting like a toddler.

Superglue red glitter onto daughter’s red sparkly shoes. In process end up with a now glittery superglue bottle stuck to fingers.

Clean up my weight in paper scraps after showing the kids how to make these:

Paper snowflake

Because then they had to make about fifty of them. And because larger is better:

Large paper snowflake

Their bedrooms are now very festive.

(thanks to kerflop for the link to the instructions)

Dig green marker out of the garbage after it is brought to my attention that a green marker is essential for all Christmas themed drawings.

Look at original to do list and weep a little.

Posted by Chris @ 10:50 am | 31 Comments  

My ever expanding to do list

December 19, 2006

1) Hang wreath on the front door, again. My wreath keeps falling off my front door. I have tried everything short of driving a 5″ nail through the door to keep it hanging with no luck.

2) I need to call the rental place to rent stuff for Christmas like tables, chairs, chafing dishes, a housewife…

3) Finalize Christmas day menu, shop for food, cook and bake. Wonder where the rental wife is.

4) Finish wrapping the gazillion presents I have, none of which are a puppy.

5) Go to liquor store

6) Clean house. Especially bathrooms. Forbid children from using them again, instead directing them to the great outdoors.

7) Order a new battery for my laptop. Right now it is just a lightweight desktop. And if my children trip over the power cord while I am typing one more time, cutting all power to my computer, so that I lose everything that wasn’t saved, well, let’s just say I’ll be spending Christmas in prison.

8) Tell children we will not be baking cookies until they clean their rooms, which does not mean piling everything on their beds and covering it with their comforter, stuffing it in the closet, or putting it all in the hamper. Do this every fifteen minutes for the next 5 days.

9) Give self full frontal lobotomy.

10) Bring the kids to see Santa so they can ask for and be promised presents that I have not bought. So that I can tell them Christmas morning that they should have been better behaved because obviously Santa took that present off of his sled. Too bad. So sad.

11) Throw wreath in the middle of the road and run it over a few dozen times. Shout expletives out the car window.

12) Revisit liquor store.

Posted by Chris @ 12:33 pm | 39 Comments  

Ransom note

December 18, 2006

Found taped to my 6 yr old’s bedroom door.

Ransom note

“First I have to be good all year and now five dollars ?! Can’t a kid get a break around here?”

Posted by Chris @ 11:57 pm | 28 Comments