Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12 Drummers Drumming

In the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas (and the fact that D plays percussion in the school band), here are 12 highlights from our family Christmas:

1.  Two days before the big day, we had a very big day in our house.  L finally pooped on the potty.  He is extremely proud of himself and is telling everyone we see.  We went to our friends' house on Friday night and he walked in and stated very loudly, "I am four now and I poop on the potty!"  Last night he even went all by himself, including wiping and flushing.  While I am extremely happy about this latest development, I do have a pang in my heart as our baby is growing up.

2.  For Christmas Eve, we always go to mass at my parents' church and then back for a family dinner.  It used to be at Jeanne's house, but that responsibility has now been passed on to us.  I really don't mind.  Our house has the best space and it's nice to just be home and not have to leave after dinner.  Mass was beautiful, and C and I both found ourselves crying during the opening hymn of O Come All Ye Faithful.  Jeanne loved this service and we all used to sing and look down the pew at each other smiling.  It's at these moments I miss her most.  The evening ended with C's son W splitting his lip open and a hurried exit by all.  E was practically gitty and even helped L sprinkle reindeer food in the front yard.  We all always feel our best when we are together as a family and this was no exception.

3.  K and I were up till 2am getting the presents wrapped and everything done.  Some of this was my fault, since I let E stay up a little later than the other kids.  Sound of Music was on and we both LOVE that movie.  It was nice to just sit with her on the couch and giggle at the antics of Friedrich and those silly Von Trapp kids.  So I really didn't start wrapping till after 10 and since some of the presents were in huge boxes, it took me FOREVER.  Needless to say, we both took the "nobody bother mommy and daddy until 7:30am on Christmas morning" very seriously. 

4.  The morning of opening was a blur.  The kids were adorable.  As opposed to last year, the girls were both good.  E especially was sweet with all of the presents she got. Things got a bit weird when the girls opened their present from their Grandpa in Indiana.  They were quilts with pictures of their parents and them as a family.  Really sweet.  E loved it.  M declared she didn't want to look at it.  Typical with the places they both are in their grief.

5.  We headed over to my parents on Christmas morning for more present opening.  It was mostly fun.  I was a bit annoyed by C and again her present giving to the girls.  On her Santa list, M wanted these mini dress forms she had used at fashion camp over the summer.  The fabric tucks in the back and it's easy to make fashions quickly.  I had told C about this and my excitement when I tracked them down online.  It was one of M's big presents from Santa.  Not only did C get them for her too, she got an accessory set, a bigger set that we got and then two expensive books on famous dresses.  It was way too much.  We are trying so hard, especially with M, to get her away from the idea that she "deserves" special presents and things.  It also just stunk that C's gift overshadowed something that I was really excited about giving M.

6.  Like last year, E decided to spend the day with my parents and do dinner with my family.  The rest of us went home around noon, ate lunch, played with toys, and napped before heading over to my in-laws for dinner.  Unlike last year, though, I could tell she was torn about coming home with us.  It's good for her to spend the time with her little sisters and I think she went to the cemetery with my Dad, but I think she feels more settled with us and felt the pull to be with us.  It makes it annoying to have to go over there and get her to bring her back to my in-laws for desert, etc. but it's part of the job I guess.

7.  I was pretty grumpy at my in-laws.  Normally the craziness, etc. is fun and I'm fine with it.  I was pretty tired though and my nerves were a bit raw.  Everyone kept asking about E and why she wasn't there.  They just don't get it.  I'm also not a big gift card fan for presents.  I don't care about the cost of a gift, I just always like the feeling that someone thought of me and something I might like.  We got two gift cards to restaurants from our Secret Santa and K's parents.  I don't want to complain, but they might as well just have put cash in an envelope. While I pretty much had a terrible time, the kids had an absolute blast with their cousins.  That is what is most important.

8.  K got me a Nook Color for Christmas.  I knew it was coming since I gave him a very big hint.  I didn't want another hoodie (same thing from him for the past three Christmas, birthday and anniversary presents).  It is awesome.  The kids, K and I have been having so much fun with it.  I can read my blogs at night in bed now!  Yay!  Angry Birds has been getting the most play time on it...L is a master :)

9.  Yesterday I drove the boys (plus one nephew) up to Baltimore (1.5 hour drive in the rain) to Charm City Skatepark, an indoor skatepark in a very sketch part of town.  They had a blast.  I was miserable.  It was cold and gross, I was grumpy and bringing L was a necessary but unfortunate decision.  He couldn't do anything with his scooter.  It was just too crowded for him.  The things we do for our kids though.  A was in absolute heaven.  He is sore and bruised today, but can't stop talking about it.  I think it made his Christmas break.  I just wish I wasn't so cranky and could have enjoyed it.

10.  E had a friend spend the night last night.  At. Our. House.  I know this sounds silly.  Most 15 year olds have friends sleep over all the time.  But for E to feel comfortable enough to have a friend come over is huge.  They had a great time and we didn't embarass her too much.  It helped that M spent the night over at my sister-in-law's and the boys were tired from the skate trip.  These little steps are a big deal.

11.  I held it together pretty well leading up to Christmas.  I was cheerful.  I tried to stay in the moment for the kids.  Songs sung, presents purchased and wrapped, books read, tickles and giggles had by all.  I don't think I was faking it either.  I consciously tried to feel the joy.  By Christmas afternoon, I could feel myself fraying at the edges.  The past two days have been awful.  Post-event blues I guess.  I'm also exhausted.  K left this morning for a 3 day business trip and the little girls are spending the night on Friday.  Ugh.

12.  This new life has been such a scary, wonderful and difficult journey.  This Christmas was better than last year.  I got through it.  I even had a good time at some points.  The kids had (and are having) a great holiday.  Fun is being had by all with new skateboards, the LeapPad, Wii games, etc.  I thank all of my readers for wonderful holiday wishes.  Even if I haven't commented individually, I have enjoyed reading about all the fun my blog friends have had with their families.  It is a very special time of the year and I'm glad my heart was able to feel the love and happiness more than last year. 

A (belated) Very Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Tis the Season

At 5 am Sunday morning, K crept silently out of bed making sure not to wake L sleeping between us as usual.  An hour later after driving to two separate Toys R Us stores, K completed his Santa mission successfully.  I work up to his cold hands holding my face and his lips on my forehead. He excitedly whispered, "I got it!"

Yes, our sweet little L, who puts up with so much around here, will gleefully open the hottest toy this Christmas season (although he had no idea when he put it on his list)...You read that right...We are currently in possession of a Green LeapPad Explorer!  K was so proud of himself and it has propelled us into the holiday season.  Presents have been bought (almost done) and we currently have two blow up polar bears in our front yard and lights on the front porch and bushes.

Work got so bad last week that I finally just gave in the towel and let the annoying, young team lead win this battle she was raging without me actually realizing it was going on.  It's just not worth it. I need to keep my job, but I don't need to prove myself to a bunch of self-righteous jerks.  I took leave on Thursday and Friday and only answered emails if it was absolutely necessary.

D was a big star last week.  Not only did he rock it out playing percussion (drums, xylophone, and wood block) in the beginning band at school, but he was the star of the school play and did an amazing job as the Shepherd Boy.  His cousins (C's kids) were also in the play as penguins and the whole night was so much fun.  He rounded off this week of performances by reading the responsorial psalm at the school mass on Friday morning.  He was relieved to get back to his roots on Saturday morning and scored 12 points in his first basketball game of the season.  I was a very proud mommy last week :)

The little kids had their last day of school today.  We had an 11:30 dismissal and headed over to my 95 year old Grandpa's nursing home with my sister C and her 3 kids.  While the kids surprised him and then kept him occupied in the library, C and I decorated his door with "snowflakes" with pictures of all of his kids, grandkids and was absolutely precious.

We've got dinner at friends' houses both tomorrow and Friday and I'm looking forward to just hanging and having fun.  I'm trying so hard to not let the stress keep me from enjoying the holidays and being the mom/aunt that I want to be for the kids.  Let's face it....these monkeys are worth it...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


So I've been a bit silent here.  It's not that I don't have lots of things to write about.  I still write posts in my head throughout the day and think about how I might present this thought or that.  My mantra of not enough time continues.  Stress permeates my every pore.  It is the Christmas season and my need to fake my way through this period of fa la la for the kids is difficult.  Without a clever way to dump all this bah humbug out of my head, here's a boring, broken record list...

1.  Work.  I don't talk about work too much in this space.  It's one place in my life (other than soccer) that I still pretty much feel like myself.  I'm good at what I do and work really hard despite my unconventional work methods (two days in office, three days at home and working lots of late nights).  I've been working more or less in this capacity for over 11 years.  The last 5 days at work have been ridiculously stressful.  A task lead on my project (young, inexperienced) and my division manager (new since August) basically questioned my ability to get something written 10 days before its due and culminated with a cut in my hours.  I was absolutely shocked and sick to my stomach.  Then, magically after putting me through unbelievable amounts of stress, my hours were returned and apologies by at least the task lead followed.  Needless to say, I'm switching divisions.  I finished the paper 4 days early and all weekend K and I have been calling it my f-you paper.  I've saved all emails (electronic and print) and have been told my multiple co-workers that what happened was basic workplace harassment.  It has been awful.

2.  Marriage.  K and I continue to struggle.  He asked to go to Park City with our friends in February and I agreed, but with the understanding that he needs to pick it up around here and re-engage with the family.  That lasted about a week.  It still comes down to me being completely responsible for the girls.  I'm trying so hard to get through to him.  I'm trying to be the wife he deserves and needs.  I could use some sign that things are moving in the right direction.  I love him too much to except anything less.

3.  The Big Girls.  This is a really tough time of year for the girls.  As much as we love them and have enveloped them into our family, we aren't their "family." They miss their sisters.  They obviously miss their parents.  Our Christmas traditions, although they overlap, are not theirs.  What makes it complicated is that the boys need and deserve to go through our family traditions.  We haven't truly "merged" two family together. That sounds too simplistic and wrong.  They participate.  They may even have a little fun, but you can tell in their eyes what they're missing.  It's really sad.

4.  The Little Girls.  I wish with all of my heart I was able to take in the little girls.  We just can't.  It is not what is best for my boys.  I doubt I could handle it.  CA continues to make decisions and do things that make me question our decision.  In my heart, I know we made the wrong choice, but I couldn't make C and S take them.  Jeanne and Mike would hate this.  I hate this.  It's been a year, and I still don't feel right about it.  Those little girls deserve more.

5.  Grief.  Sometimes I think that I'm starting to forget them.  Other days I can hear their voices in my head like they were sitting next to me.  Last weekend I was cleaning up some things and found Mike's cd's.  It was both wonderful  and painful.  He was bigger than life and it is still so unbelievable that such a vibrant life force is gone.  I miss them so much.  I could use my big sister.

6.  Christmas.  I used to love Christmas.  I do it up big.  Decorations, cookies, carols jamming on my ipod.  I just don't have it in me anymore.  I'm trying to fake it for the kids and help us prepare as a family. (D is the lead in the school play!)  It just all seems so much now.  It still is hard to celebrate when there is a giant crater in our family.  We'll buy the presents (if anyone has a lead on a LeapPad let me know--it's L's number one wish and they are nowhere to be found).  We'll go to mass as a family.  The spirit just isn't in me anymore.

In sucks, my husband continues to hide, the girls are a challenge and I miss my sister.  Merry Christmas?