Saturday, December 12, 2009

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! for real this time

I really want my children to know that Christmas is not all about presents - for them. What I can do is try to show my children about generosity first hand. My girlfriend teaches downtown in a very low income neighborhood. She had mentioned adopting a family in need this holiday season so I asked if we could help.

While I was volunteering at my son's school I happened to mention it to his teacher and she said it sounded like a great idea for the class. So I called my girlfriend and asked her how much help she would like and she said the more the merrier!

So I plastered "Change for Cheer" on an old plastic container and got the class started with all the change from my wallet. The teacher even asked the parents to forgo store bought gifts this year and just donate to the family. The kids counted, estimated, and weighted the jar. They wrote letters to the family and talked about what the family might need or like for the holidays.

Two weeks later the day I have to pick-up the jar and deliver it to my girlfriend was one of those never ending days. I ran errands with the three-year-old for two hours and came home to the carbon monoxide detector blaring. I had to call the gas company blah, blah, blah.

Needless to say I was a little frazzled by the time I got to school to pick up the jar and thank the children for their donations. I was blown away when I got there and could barely lift the jar. It weighted over 10 pounds and there was $300 in it. Every child had written a note to the family wishing them Merry Christmas and hoping they use the money to get a Christmas tree. My son had added that he hoped there was enough money for them to buy a house.

I was in tears by the time I handed over the jar to my girlfriend - who was blown away. She made a call to the family and found out that they in fact did not have a tree or stockings. Together with my children we went to Target and spent half the money. My son had a blast picking out a tree, decorations, garland, and a tree topper. The three-year-old didn't quite get it at first but still had fun helping us fill the cart. They picked out toys, clothes, pajamas, jewelry, and more.

Later we got online and ordered the family Christmas dinner. My six-year-old got it! Everyday since he has asked if he can donate his money to a family that "really needs Christmas". I'm so proud of him and his class. I'm ecstatic that so many parents got behind this and sent in $5, $10, even $20. I'm humbled by the teacher who gave up presents and gift cards for this family.

I'm renewed that maybe the holidays are not all about.... presents, or boxes, or bows maybe Christmas is something a little bit more....and my heart grew ten sizes!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Playing the Santa Card!

I've been pretty cautious about playing the "Santa's watching" you card because my six-year-old is terrified of the idea. Just recently we saw a commercial for the Elf on a Shelf . I think I was saying something about what a great idea it was and the three-year-old thought it looked cool and the six-year-old went into a fit of hysterics.

"Don't get it mom! I don't like elves! They freak me out!"

This is not unusual, I know. I was a little more than freaked out during the holiday season as a child because, "he sees you when your sleeping, he knows when your awake". For goodness sake I went to Catholic school -on top of this! The pressure was too much I tell you!! An omnipotent God and Santa - there was no winning.

Tonight however I am running on little if no sleep because both boys have terrible coughs that keep me up two nights in a row. Normally, I do not run errands in the evening unless it is an emergency. No fruits and vegetables in our house is truly an emergency. So we went to the produce store at 5:00 p.m. and all I heard through the entire store was, "Can I have this! I want that!". By the time we got to the checkout counter I was frazzled so I threw it down.

"You two better watch it I think Santa is in the parking lot."

The three-year-old, who was holding a cow tail in one hand and a Holiday candy kabob in the other - froze. The six-year-old had 42 questions. Where is he? What did you see? Is he still out there? Are you sure it was him... This is a very small store and there was all of five of us in there to begin with and now we are all giggling. As I finish paying I notice the three-year-old has not moved a muscle and the six-year-old's jaw is still flapping.

We head out the door with the other patron, and elderly women who is smiling at the interaction. As soon as we hit the door my kids run to the sidewalk and yell, "Santa where are you?" My three-year-old adds, "I just need to ask you sumfing?"

The other women and I both burst out laughing. There were a million more questions on the way home but all I could think of was what a great story this will be to tell 10 years from now.
Merry Christmas Santa, where ever you are!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Strong genes

First let me say, there is never a dull moment in this house - ever. Even when trying to have a simple family movie night. There are arguments, tantrums, and fighting over where to sit, whose allowed to talk, and of course which movie to watch.

Now much to my own chagrin, I will tell you that my three-year-old is not the best TV watcher. He rarely makes it through a whole movie. When he is done and wants to move on to the next activity he is prone to standing smack dab in front of the TV - and not moving. I happen to know where he got this from - me.

My brothers and sisters, should they read this, will attest to that fact. I was the middle child. That's my excuse! No one wanted to play with me and when all else failed I was always guaranteed a fight, I mean attention, by standing - smack dab in front of the TV.

There are lots of other things my three-year-old inherited from me, like my chin. But it is so crazy to watch your children develop and think, Holy Cow! I do that. My six-year-old son will stand at the table working on yet another very large messy craft project with his right foot resting against his left knee. Kind of like a flamingo. He will also turn on the radio or a favorite CD and stand in front of the sliding glass door and dance - so that he can see himself.
(I promise I haven't looked at myself in a full length mirror since before I had children!)

So many things good, and bad, come to the surface to remind us that they truly are a chip off the old block. That the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. That when they turn 16 - I am in soooo much trouble!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanks, but no thanks...

It's so cliche, but as women don't we all take on certain things around the house because it's just easier. In our house, it is just easier for me to do all the cooking because my husband can't. Really, really can't!

Now that the boys are three and six my husband is really after me to take more time to exercise and do things for myself. He's been trying to free me up on Sunday afternoon, the trouble is dinner still needs to be cooked. It is truly our only afternoon together as a family; since he's always out in the morning mountain biking or running, then there's lunch, then naps, then family time. You see what I'm dealing with here.

So the other day everyone was so grumpy and I was tired of hearing myself scream, "Why can't you say those words with love in your voice!" that I took off - after I prepped dinner. I had pork chops marinating in the fridge in an 8x8 Pyrex dish covered with saran wrap, french fries cut up and soaking, and instructions for my husband on the counter.

With very little confidence but a lot of enthusiasm I left for the gym. The only instructions I left were as follows:

1. Turn on the oven at 5:15 to 425 degrees
2. Make a Greek salad

I tried to enjoy my time at the gym knowing the kids were not in the germ infested child-care center watching that idiotic Sponge Bob Square pants and learning all about God knows what from someone elses kid.

Last week my three-year-old said he wanted to marry me. I remember my sister telling me her son said that at three and she cherished the moment. Mine of course was quickly squashed when he announced we had to get married so that he could sleep in my bed- that's what Molly said.

After 35 minutes on the treadmill I debated going on to the weights. Something inside of me was saying - Go home. I tried to ignore that voice and headed for the weights. I did 50 or so sit-ups and the voice was no longer nagging at me to go home - it was screaming in my ear. Maybe I'll ease into this "alone time" thing.

I called home to say that I was on my way and the first thing my husband said was, "What! Why you not workout longer I got the salad made and dinner started, stay there." Thanks I said, but I think I got all the mental health break I can stand for one day. By the way, what do you mean you got dinner started? All I asked you to do was pre-heat the oven. "I saw the pork in the refrigerator and I put it in the oven already."

"Did you put it on the oven in the marinade with saran wrap over it?" I said trying not to sound too critical. This is what I heard, "Oh Sh!t" - click.

Thanks, but no thanks. I'll do the cooking.