Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

OK blogger is fighting with me tonight and won't let me insert text between the pics.  Sorry guys!  I am coming off a migraine and don't feel like fiddling.  We had a great New Years Eve celebration here.  The first picture is Happy New Year in German, at least according to Google Translate!  We made a big poster and used a fancy font and hung it in our dining room.  We also took confetti and covered big numbers that I cut out of paper that allegedly had adhesive on it.  We stuck all the confetti on and I tacked them to the wall, and came back 20 minutes later to find them looking like a sad chia pet who needed rograine or something.  Huge bald spots and lots of confetti on the floor. Blech.  Took them off the wall, brought them outside and sprayed them with adhesive. Then reattached the confetti and to be darn sure it didn't go anywhere covered it with contact paper.  It actually wound up looking funky and fun. 

We had our German meal, while German music streamed through my computer.  The internet is so cool.  We listened to German rock, a German "soft hits" station and a German childrens station. It was pretty neat.  Usually finding music is the hardest part of pulling this together and now it is easy.  We always have a little Jeopardy quiz type game with some facts that I find about how a country celebrates.  The kids are geeks--they all love this!  Then we threw confetti and read our remembrances of the past year.  After all of that, the little kids danced on bubble wrap to German music and it sounded amazingly like fireworks.  In 34 minutes it is actually midnight in Germany and they love the fact that they can honestly say Happy New Year for the country we celebrated.

Happy New Year all!  I wish for all of us, opportunities and memories, hugs and smiles, sunrises and birdsong and joys to carry in our hearts to give us strength when times are hard.  Blessed be!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Playhouse Progress!

Working on KC and Lissa's new indoor playhouse with them has been a lot of fun. It is heavy duty cardboard that you can decorate any way you want. They have spent a little bit of every day this week working on it with me.  I tend to do the second coats, and KC had me draw the hearts and vines and flowers but the majority of the paint work is theirs.  I love the way he put texture into the green stripe of the rainbow!

Planning New Years Eve

Rob chose Germany this year as our country to focus on for celebrating New Years Eve.  I have spent a little time researching Germany to plan our food buffet.  There is a little adapting due to the fact that we are vegetarian.  That is often the case though in many of the countries we have chosen have very meat based diets.  We will have vegetarian meat balls, saurkraut, onion pie, pretzels, cheese ball and some buttery crackers, rye bread and some pickled veggies.  For dessert there will be jelly doughnuts.  Apparently in Germany there is a tradition of a trickster filling one doughnut with mustard---I can't bring myself to do that! LOL  We will have a trivia game, and play some other games.  We have bubble wrap to jump on for fire works and we also will fill some balloons with bird seed and pop them o utside.  If I get my act together I'll post pictures but lately, I've been slacking in the photo department!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Errand Day

Today I have a number of odd errands to do with the kids.  I have promised Chet we will pierce his other ear.  This was his gift from us and he is very excited.  I have to go to a couple of stores, which is not fun but must be done. (hey, how poetic! LOL) The other errands don't involve children but I am bringing them as it gives K a break from the kids.  It was still nice and warm when we got up this morning, albeit unseasonably warm.  I have been loving that. Unfortunately for me, that lovely odd occurance is coming to an end. We had a ton of rain and wind last night and they brought with them a cold front.  Brrrrrr! It really feels like winter out there now.  Time for me to go make tea to warm up and to clean up the kitchen from the muffins I made for breakfast.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day

Today was a pretty good post Yule sort of day.  The kids slept in a bit which was good as Lissa was hugely overtired.  We went to a store and got them some notepaper for thank you notes.  I was impressed in the fact that they spontaneously wrote thank yous to each other Christmas day.  However they were on teeny bits of notepaper which is fine for us, but for the seniors who sent them a card or gift, not so much! LOL  We tried to buy jazz shoes for KC but the dance store was closed today. 

The kids ASKED me to help them clean the living room and organize their new toys.  I am all about order, probably a bit more so than I should be.  I try constantly to take a mental breath and remind myself that there is only a certain period of a child's life when they utilize 4million lego pieces and leave them around to cripple their loving parents. LOL  We worked together and it really did not take long at all to get things so much tidier. 

K and I took down the Christmas decorations in our dining room and above our kitchen cabinets and put up our snow man collection in its place.  It looks sweet and cheerful and festive but takes the hype down just a notch.  We will travel to my mom tomorrow to Christmas with her and then we will Christmas again with K's family in January so the festivities roll on for a while longer.

I actually kind of love that (said in whisper, as my wife is less a lover of celebrating than I am)  It feels like the season doesn't end abruptly this way, which was what happened when I was little and I always had this sort of post holiday blues thing.  No blues here, just the joy of hanging with my kids.  And happy Boxing Day to anyone across the pond!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Like the Who's down in "who-ville" Christmas is a big deal at our house.  But not for the size of the gifts. For the joy of the season. For the fun of decorations and surprises planned. For songs and lights.  Posters, slippers, bracelets and a toy dino can elicit as big a smile as a big bucks gift.  Which is good as with a trip to Florida in May there were not big bucks for this Yule time.  Probably the priciest gift was Rob's gift of 3 snowboard lessons from us and my promise to Chet to have another ear piercing done for him this week w hile I am on vacation.  But even those, really are so much lower cost than many of our friends spend on the holidays.

KC got the best present of all and it was totally free! His picture in the holiday picture contest was published in the local newspaper on Christmas Eve.  We didn't know till long after he had gone to bed so we told him first thing this morning. 

We have called family and friends and wished them seasons greetings. Many are playing with some wonderful high tech toys and big screen TVs.  I am glad for those who have that and want that, and equally glad that we can have genuine fun with less. We are now hanging out and playing games, watching snow flurries dance in the air outside.  Merry Christmas all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fiona's Happy Birthday

I took not ONE picture today.  A spectacular failing that I blame on the fact that I have a nifty new to me purse that hid the camera in its depths.  My usual purse has things spilling out the top so I see them and rarely forget.  But I will have to etch the happy memories in my mind to keep for always.

Fiona was so happy to see us and so loved her gifts.  She had invited one of her friends to the party and J had a good time with us as well.  We had brunch with the school, then the party and cake, and then just sort of hung out and played a variety of games that the kids knew or created.  The really good thing is that my kids are really not super competitive in the arena of games. It is really about playing together as opposed to winning, which made a very good dynamic for both Fiona and her friend.  Part of our visit was also allowed to be unsupervised for the first time which was also pretty cool.

On the not so cool front, the cousin who was supposed to join us was a no show and a no call.  I try not to judge.  I know people have crazy things happen in their lives. But people seem to be so cavalier about letting Fiona down.  I know she loved that we were there, but she asked me if her cousin was coming.  I said to the best of  my knowledge. So I know that the pain of the absence will register and be with her, even though she greatly enjoyed her time with us.  Much is often said, and very justifiably, about adoptive families who are disrespectful of the importance and the ties of first families.  I continually find myself in a rather different scenario where the first family members seem very comfortable popping in and out with no real commitment to their kin.  This would be okay perhaps if Fiona did not have significant cognitive and mental health issues, but given that, and given the fact that this has been explained to them, it drives me round the bend.

After we left, the school population was going to go to a performance of  The Nutcracker. I was glad at a couple of levels. First, it will delay the time before Fiona really has time to think about the fact that the cousin really didn't show.  Secondly, and this is going to sound really mean--but it is something Fiona has that one of my kids here at home hasn't had.  KC desperately wants to see the Nutcracker.  And I could not afford tickets to the venue because we are saving for Florida.  I explained to him that we would do this another year but it would not be  this year.  Then Fi called last week and said she was going and KC was kind of green with envy, though very polite about it on the phone.  Fi has had to deal with the complex emotions about our trip to Florida and the fact that she is not yet at a place where she is safe enough to make such a trip with us.  So for her, having that moment to shine is really wonderful, and i have to say, KC is great about handling it.  He loves her so much that once that initial shock was over, he was great.  And he once more today was the shining star of the visit, dancing with her, thinking of games to play, cracking jokes. 

And now, it is time to think about Christmas Eve and find the stockings and check NORAD to see where Santa is so far!  :-)

Friday, December 23, 2011

I believe in miracles!

Why?  Because I am officially DONE!  Somehow, the presents have been purchased, the gift certificates made, the stocking stuffers wrapped, Fiona's birthday and Yule gifts all set, cake for her party made and it isn't even 10 p.m.!  LOL  I also believe in miracles because my wife helped me wrap stocking stuffers this year making a rather large job for one person a speedy one for 2.  She has not done much Yule prep in many a year so that was a huge and most unexpected gift. 

Tomorrow the kids and I will shop early as usual but it should be hopefully quick as we don't need a lot. Then we will get coffees for Rob and I and come home till it is time to leave for our ride the Great School in the City to be with my eldest daughter.  I love the holidays.  I always trust that somehow it will all get done.  And somehow, even the year we drove back from Chicago with Lissa, it always does.

Gift Cards are an endangered species!

Tomorrow we go see Fiona and celebrate her birthday.  My expense check from my job finally came so now I have the money that I budgeted for her laptop.  I had told the school that I would kick in $125.00 towards the laptop and they could use it to defray the cost or to help her buy software, or down load songs on it, whatever she would like that was sanctioned.  In a comedy of holiday madness my bank ran out of gift cards, the bank next door doesn't do gift cards and my wife is now out getting it at a local grocery store.  How a cash gift card became a hard thing to get makes me shake my head in amazement.

There are times when I see differences in the way K and I look at parenting Fiona.  When I explained my dilemma to K, who was leaving to do errands, she was surprised I was spending that much on her gift card.  I said it was comparable to what the other kids get and that none of her other gifts from us were expensive. K feels there is a difference in her mind, because we have legally adopted the 4 who are at home with us and that our relationship with Fi is different.  I said it is different legally, but not in my heart.  She is my daughter, and whenever possible, she gets what they get. That means I bring a home made cake on her birthday and she is getting the gift cards.  Don't get me wrong, K doesn't begrudge what we are giving Fiona, but I am sad that there is that weird perceived difference in her mind.  Pieces of paper are not about being a parent and love binds more than any document from any court.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chugging along towards the holidays

Fiona's gifts are all wrapped. Rob helped me out with that so that I didn't have to do it alone.  We have a set of birthday gifts that she will open with us and the Christmas gifts that we will give to staff so she has gifts from us for Christmas morning.  The kids stocking stuff is all purchased, although it is still in my car. Rob and I watch X Factor together so there is no way tonight that I can wrap those.  I will have to do that tomorrow night after I make Fiona's birthday cake which we are bringing to the Big City on Saturday. Kirsty was able to shrink a pic of us to put in the locket that KC picked out for her.  He has a gentle spirit.  Tonight when I put him to bed, he said he didn't really care what Santa brought, he just wanted to see Fiona.  I think the open unreserved love that he has for her is a greater gift than the locket.
December is always a blur in my life.  I am glad that we have a tradition of writing memories on 3 x 5 cards to share the last week of the month as I would definately forget important things otherwise.  Much of the busy-ness is truly wonderful.  I am a person who adores celebrating.

Last night was Solstice night and that is a big deal in our house.  We eat in near darkness with only glowsticks and candles and some lights around our dining room window to remind us of cold starry nights. We honor the changing of the season and the fact that the wheel of the year will begin to turn again and light is slowly going to return to our world.  When I came home, KC and Lissa were busy with last minute preparations and "finding something festive" to wear.  (their actual word choice)  KC settled on his star covered shirt and a pair of jeans, and Lissa chose the sparkly dress Fiona gave her for Christmas last year.

The night before was the first night of Hannukah.  We are not Jewish but my kids have Jewish friends and love to play the driedel game.  Also our religion honors Judaism as one of our great sources and the story of Hannukah and Passover are things that our religion explains.  At any rate, every year, we have to play a game of driedel after supper on the first night of Hannukah. 

In a day and a half I will be on vacation  until after the first of the year. This too is cause for celebration as although I have always loved my work, my restructured duties are boring in the extreme and I no longer look at the work before me with enthusiasm as I feel I have become a data entry clerk.  No slams at data entry clerks, it is just that  my duties were more far ranging and interesting to me previously. But my new employers like to compartmentalize and I drew the data box I guess! LOL

But in the midst of the December crazies, I read a post last night from a friend far off in TX. They have recently moved there and his wife just had a very serious heart attack and is in a coma.  I can't imagine being in a new location, without even a permanent address yet, and having my soul mate so ill. It makes complaining about data entry petty, and the gift of my  December bustle even greater.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On Dasher On Dancer!

The above reindeer "danced" to the holiday party that the littles had at dance class on Saturday.  I saw this idea in a magazine last year and KC really wanted to do it.  Of course it was a December magazine that I read in February or something, so we had to wait awhile!  The timing for us was not so great.  Lissa's birthday on the 16th adds a layer of excitement and busy-ness to an all ready frenetic holiday season.  And the kids really wanted to help. Which is a GOOD thing and I did not want to say, "oh I am going to do it" just to get it done quickly.  So I sucked it up and over 2 nights, these dear deer's (sorry I could not resist) were created.

The first night KC and Lissa rolled out the dough and I cut the shapes o ut of a paper template that I drew.  KC also took heart shaped pretzels and broke them to make the antlers.  After Lissa's party, KC and Rob helped me dab on frosting and secure the eyes, nose and antlers.  Truly they were the hit of the dance parties and watching KC pass them around carefully on a holiday tray was another sweet moment.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Out Takes

 I reminded my wife that we really needed to get our cards out and could she pleeez pretty pleez do the holiday pic of the tribe?  She really does better than I do, partly as she can take lots of shots quickly.  I am not so speedy and I either miss the great shots or the kids understandably wander off to do something a lot  more interesting than watch me mumble about why is the flash not working.  LOL  These shots are all the out takes--there are about 25 out takes and with rare exceptions I thought they were almost better than the final shot that we wound up using.  The personalities of our kids came through in all of them and I love that. Love Miss Lissa here, stylin' for the camera, for instance.
 And this one is cute too.  See that bear?  That bear is A*von's Hip Hop Randy and if his battery runs down before Dec. 25th, it will not be replaced until next December!  LOL Blake, our pooch looks fairly long suffering in this shot.  I don't think he is rocking the bow Rob put on him!
 I love KC in this shot and Lissa too, but I wanted more of her face if I was sending the shot to people who we rarely see.  And Rob's smile is great but he is looking at his brother and not the camera. And Blake had disappeared.  But you can see a bit more of Lissa's sparkly red dress.  It was her gift from Fiona last year and she wanted to wear it for the picture.  Fi was really excited to hear that.
What I love about this and most of the other shots also is that Chet really looked relaxed.  I don't know if it was the time of day, the fact it was by the tree or the red cowboy hat I bought him at the party store. But he really took great shots. Oh and in this shot it looks like Lissa is trying to squeeze hip hop Randy's brains out!  LOL  And I suppose some days as I try to get everything done leading up to the holidays I feel a bit like someone is trying to squeeze my brains out too!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holly Jolly Hectic!

I am so behind where I usually am at this point in the holiday season that it is staggering!  I have all the gifts, that part is good.  But I don't have stocking stuffers.  Nor have I written a single Yule card.  I know some people hate cards, but I love them. I usually have mine ready to mail for the first week in December. This year we have not even managed the kids holiday picture.  I took a great shot but it was too blurry, then a rash of sickness made taking pictures not possible.  Hopefully we can try and do that today.

We also have a lot of piece work to do at night right now.  We never want to say no to that as money is always needed and if you say no, then some other worker looks like they care a lot more than we do.  We consistantly say "yes" so are usually one of the first workers called. But that means that I have also not had time to wrap anything because I have been doing the piecework at night.

K is trying to find time to make the cookies that we give to friends and vendors. . . And Lissa's birthday is this Friday!  Hard to believe that she is going to be 5.  We went and got her party decorations last night.  December is also a hard month for her having the hype of both Yule and her birthday in the same month.  I think hope she will handle it better as she gets older but right now, the fever pitch that inevitably results, leads to lots of meltdowns.

I know it will get done somehow.  Things always do. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Family Mural

 It is that time of year!  Time for the annual Yule mural to go up in our dining room.  KC came up with the idea this year of creating a gingerbread themed picture. This may partly have been because he was a gingerbread  boy in his dance recital this past spring. He had kept the head piece and we all had to have our pictures taken wearing it to adorn the painted gingerbread bodies that K created!  We used a lot of foam stickers to decorate the gingerbread house and the trees. They are quick and easy and add cool dimension. Plus kids of all ages can do it.  Above is the house with K in the door way.
 Here is Fiona riding a sled full of presents down a hill.  I had to get a bit creative with Fi's pic as she was not here to have her picture taken with the required head gear.  Thank goodness for computers that make such magic possible! LOL
Chet and Rob gingerbread people decorating a big tree.  You can't see Rob's gingerbread person quite as clearly as I would like but he has plaid pants painted on his gingerbread body. Plaid pants are his new "cool" fashion statement so we made sure to incorporate them. Chet is tangled in silver garland and wearing a candy cane as an earring.  Chet is famous for using unusual things as earrings, so this also, sort of celebrates his personality.

Next Friday is Lissa's birthday and we are going to put a temporary flag on the back of Fiona's sled (or possibly a fake balloon) that says Happy Birthday Lissa.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Long Ramble about Adoption

Sometimes the stars align or something and a thing in my life that I had planned to write about sort of winds up the topic on a blog I read and I start to hear music from the Twilight Zone! LOL  Tonight I was thinking a lot about adoption.  Partly because December is the month Chet came home to me.  December is the month Elisabeth was born and came home to me.  December is the month I met Rob for the first time. It is Fiona's birth month and the month I met her for the first time.  KC is the lone spring guy in my tribe.  But recently, most of my adoption thoughts have centered on Rob.

I know how hard adoption is during the teen years.  Being a teen is hard enough.  Being an adopted, transracial teen of lesbian white women???  And yet, (and understand that I am knocking wood here) Rob seems to be growing into a comfortable place as a teen that he didn't have as a young child. 

I am not crediting this to some fantastic thing I have done as a parent.  I suspect it has a lot to do with Rob and how he approaches things slowly and deliberately and when he reaches a decision it has really.been.made.

But I do know that I have done all I could to try and make the space for making those decisions as comfortable as they can be, and for him to always know that he is deeply loved, always, no matter what. There have been a lot of times when I have felt that I cared far more about first family connections than he did.  He would be unresponsive during phone calls or visits. He would not write to first family members.  Once I managed to convince a variety of aunts, cousins and siblings that I was not holding him apart from them intentionally, we wound up working things out.  They let a relationship develop between me and them, so that at least they knew what was going on in Rob's life.  And I passed on what was going on in theirs in a casual, off hand manner that he seemed most able to accept.

Eventually, as a younger teen, I was able to tap into his love of the electronic age and through social media was able to re-connect him with some family in that manner.It was pretty stilted at first, and i am not a saint.  I worried that something would be said that would hurt him.  But just like I can't wrap him in bubble wrap when he skateboards, I can't wrap his heart in bubble wrap either.  I just need to be there for him when it happens.

And the point of the ramble, is that the evolution continues.  Tonight, Rob shared with me a picture of a hair style that one of his cousin's did on her daughter.  When I said i wished Lissa would sit for something like was was shown, he quickly typed it to his cousin and then showed me her response.  There was a naturalness to it all that spoke of the way we have smoothed out  jagged edges and worked to heal.  I mentioned to Rob that one of his cousins might be at our next visit with Fiona and he said he knew.  I said I have never met this cousin before and I was looking forward to it.  I asked if he remembered her.  He said not really, but he thought she loved to wear a lot of red, like I do.  We are all more connected than we give ourselves credit for.  Adoption really requires that we honor those connections--those blood connections of our children, connections of culture, the whole gamut. I'd like to believe that when we do, we can truly facilitate a healing  from the trauma that adoption also is for all our children.  I don't want a scab over an infected sore.  I am shooting for a healthy healing, and yes, I know there will be a scar.  We all have them and I can't get rid of those either.

And the Twilight Zone connection?  Tonight I read one of my favorite blogs written by an adult adoptee and she had posted a letter written by another adult adoptee.  Read it, if you are an adoptive parent.  Actually, I think you should just read it. Because none of us know where our lives will take us and whose hearts we will touch in the course of living.  You'll find it here

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A sweet tradition continues!

K and the kids have been working on our annual Yule mural.  This year, they decided to make a gingerbread house and all of us as gingerbread people.  It isn't quite done yet but it is going to be sooooooo cute!  This weekend when the kids and I were whirling through the local craft store like a tornado, we found some cute stick on accents--pretend candy, felt presents, that kind of thing.  It will really look nice and the other cool thing is that it will not be hard to decorate around that for Miss Lissa's birthday on the 16th.  I love this particular holiday tradition of ours because everyone gets involved, and everyone is represented in the mural somehow. 

I have also been doing some research for our New Years tradition as the concensus seems to be to celebrate German style.  Which is funny as I actually have German heritage in me and other than loving a good beer, I have no idea how Germans celebrate anything! (well I know there is a lot of brautwurst and such also but as a vegetarian I'll be working around those parts of my heritage!)  Rob came back with this idea after visiting a cultural fair with his girlfriend and the rest of the gang seem to have bought in.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All I want for Christmas is . . .

KC and Lissa wrote letters to Santa when we went to the Holiday Stroll. This was not a surprise, they wrote letters here at home.  Letters to mail to him detailing their holiday dreams.  Letters to leave with the cookies on Christmas Eve.  letters because they thought he might be lonely--Santa gets a lot of mail from our home. 
Thus I have been pretty sure I knew what was in their hearts and minds for holiday gifting. 

Imagine my surprise when KC wrote on his letter to Santa "a new waffle iron!"  LOL

Yup.  About 4 months ago our waffle iron died.  We used to use it almost weekly but it is hard (and pricey) to find a waffle maker that does 6 waffles at a shot. There are a LOT that make 4, but for 6, not really. So I put it off.  We sort of switched to pancakes and texas french toast or eggs and  home fries for the breakfast for supper meals.  I guess KC was really missing those waffles.  Thanks to the magic of the internet, Santa will come through!

Monday, December 5, 2011

You have to laugh!

Chet and Kirsty had a rather large disagreement the other day.  Both were still annoyed when I got home from work and I tried to negotiate the minefield of the evening; supporting both of them in their respective positions without setting anyone off again.

K's perception is laudable but the reality of it is not the most emotionally supportive for Chet.  She believes that she needs to keep pushing him to try his best, to do better than he presently is and the most recent disagreement concerned handwriting.  She made him rewrite a blog post that he had written for me to input for him on his book and movie reviews.  Chet was angry and the second effort didn't look any better.  For me personally, I don't see fighting over this. He had OT in school for 6 years with no discernable improvement and I have never been able to easily read his handwriting. When I do the blog entry he reads his notes to me and I type what he dictates.

At any rate, I started cleaning up from supper and Chet announced that " I was much the kinder parent, though far more simplistic."

From my autistic son, this is a compliment.  Because I know he uses the english language a bit differently from the rest of us, I asked what he meant. (OK I will confess; I laughed and asked if that meant I was nice but simple minded.) He said no, he meant that I was kind and I didn't nit-pick.

It takes being willing and able to look beyond what is said and done sometimes when communicating with my Chet.  He truly has a heart of gold, but such a hard time sharing his thoughts in a way that makes sense to the rest of the world.  I tried to explain that Mom was just trying to help him work a little harder on some life skills because it would make things easier for him later on. But I do know that I see the situation differently; that there are things he probably has maxed out in ability wise and that is why I don't push. I figure if 25 years of skill building and intensive work on a behavior hasn't worked beyond a certain point, we have likely reached the limit of his ability to adapt and learn to that specific situation.

Maybe I am letting too much slide; I guess there will be no way to know until a lot further down the road. In the mean time, I'll go on being my simplistic self!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A shoebox full of joy

It takes a special brand of insanity fortitude to take my whole tribe shopping at once!  But I pretty much have it down to a science and though I am sure the various retailers are thrilled to see us leave, we do get through the stores for holiday shopping with minimal issues.

It is hardest of course, for Chet, who is over stimulated by the flashing lights, the music, the crowds, essentially ALL of Yuletide.  Lissa is kind of up there too in the easily stimulated arena, but Rob and KC are thankfully not.  Todays shopping trip focussed on birthday and Yule gifts for Fiona, Christmas gifts for K from the older boys, gifts for the "Shoebox Project" at church and the supplies KC needed for a gift he wanted to make for K for Yule.  I like to take it in small chunks when I do this holiday thing, don't I?  LOL

We tackled Fiona's gifts first and found pretty sweaters, a fancy hoodie with faux fur around the hood, a sparkly scarf and some cute jewelry.  Those were all fine, but KC was determined to get her a locket because he felt she should have a picture of us from one of our visits that she could always wear close to her heart.  The only locket we could find that fit his vision (it HAD to be heart shaped and it HAD to be silver) was more than I would ever normally have a sibling spend.  But the sincerity of his desire to do this and the maturity of seeing what she would need outweighed the fact that his piggy bank sure did not have this much cash in it.  He can pay me in chores and I know he will.  We got the locket and now we have to figure out how to shrink one of our pictures down and print it for inside of it.

We did K next and that went pretty easily. Oh and I also was (you can laugh here) helping Chet buy his gift for me.  Chet and K have been oil and water these days and with his aforementioned over-stim situation, it seemed better for me to do this.  He doesn't stress me out the way he does K.  I set some guidelines by showing him 3 things I liked and then told him to make his decision from those things and pay for it while I was elsewhere so that I would not know his final decision.  My goal in this was to try and make sure I did not get another 3X hoodie since I am a size 5! LOL  I asked Rob to circle back and check on things when I was not in the aisle and he did and reported that all went well.

Once we got back together it was time to buy gifts for an 8 to 12 year old boy who is in a shelter in Maine.  Rob spent Columbus Day weekend there with our church youth group and bonded with an 8 year old boy there.  In Rob's mind, we were buying for that particular boy. I  have not a clue that he will actually receive our specific box, but didn't honestly feel that I needed to burst that bubble for Rob.  I think he thinks a lot about that boy and that he weighs on his heart a bit.  If it helps Rob to believe he gets this box, so be it.  And who knows, maybe he will.  We all picked out things for the box.  It is fun to see how much we can fit in a shoebox.  We fit, craft scissors, glue sticks, glitter sticks, crayons, markers, 2 pair of gloves, a card game of pictionary, a game called Toss Up, Silly Putty, clay, a Transformer, and an action figure. I figured out last year that you fit the most things by taking everything out of its cardboard and shrink wrap and packing in that way.  I loved watching the kids all take part in deciding what to get and knowing that someone will have a brighter Christmas because of what we did.

From there we went to get printer ink because we need to take the kids holiday picture so I can mail out my cards. I tried to take their picture when we got home and either I was VERY jittery after taking them all shopping or the anti wiggle feature got turned off by a gremlin again.  (I suspect the latter as the kids all use the camera as well.)  I could have screamed as it was a cute shot, but it is way too unfocussed.

Then we went to the craft store and  I scored a couple of craft kits for Fiona and KC got the suppies to make his gift for K.  He literally has drawn out diagrams of what he wants to make for people and he sat down and did hers the minute we got home.  The kid amazes me.

Actually, they all amaze me.  They give freely of their hearts and their talents and that is all any mom could ask for.

Strollin' in the Holiday

Yesterday was our community's annual Holiday Stroll.  This is such a fun event. For the afternoon, there is almost a small town feel to our mid sized city as businesses throw open their doors and invite the public in for cookies, hot cocoa, crafts etc.  Because we live only a half mile from town, I always walk the kids down. Traffic gets blocked off and pedestrians wander at will through the various shops, displays and events. 

Usually the weather is not too cooperative.  Last year it was frigidly cold and i remember explaining to Lissa that I would not stand in line in the cold for 45 minutes so she could ride a pony. LOL  The year before that we had slushy snow and rain.  This year, the goddess graced us with blue skies and mild temps. Also, having done the stroll for a bunch of years now, I have a feel for how the events generally will run (there is some variation year to year but also some standbys).  This helps me hit the things that seem to matter most to the kids.

The first thing we did was head to the bakery that gives out free cookies.  Except KC remembers that they make a cookie he adores that is of course, not free. So we bought that, and a cupcake and some kind of chocolate confection. Then we got in line for face painting and watched the Christmas parade go by while we were in line. From there, we wrote holiday messages to soldiers, letters to Santa, visited with Santa, played an indoor snowball fight, We watched chestnuts being roasted, heard carols being sung, and bought some hand made jewelry for gifting.

Nearly three hours went by in the blink of an eye and suddenly the sun was low in the sky and it was time to walk home.  I baked frozen pizzas in the oven and we had a 'dinner theater" in our living room watching a children's holiday movie.  Doesn't get better than that!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday doings

Well Rob is officially hired on at the local wildlife museum and starts next Sunday afternoon. He seems excited and I am glad that there was an interview process to help him get used to how that feels.  In another bit of good news, one of his youth group friends also volunteers there and we will be able to share transportation chores which is a huge benefit to us.

KC officially has 3 dance classes on Saturday as the new jazz class was a go and this was the first Saturday for that. He loves it and loves the music they use in the class.  He doesn't know that he will have a second number in the recital and I have neglected on purpose to share that with him.  LOL

We leave in a few minutes to go to our town's Holiday Stroll.  Vendors, and crafts, food and music. It is a fun way to spend the afternoon, though it leaves me racing through  my chores tomorrow after church.  But this is a kind of busy that I enjoy.  It is a wealth of experiences that build memories and knit us ever more closely together.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Feeling Blue

I am blue today.  That is fairly unusual for me; I usually brim with optimisim.  I don't know what the deal is. Work seems overwhelming.  Being away from my office for a whole week was a classic good thing/bad thing.  I know it is healthy to relax and decompress, but then I literally have to spend a whole week revving myself up to the go-go-go pitch that is my work speed these days.  Don't get me wrong, I am glad I have a job.  I enjoy the industry I work in.  But the work load has probably easily tripled and it is very hard to figure out what is the "hot" action item in a sea of seemingly all "get it done now" projects.

It is also December 1st and it was on December 1st 14 years ago that we found out my MIL had terminal cancer.  I will never forget the hysterical sobs as my wife called me at work and choked out the news.  I will never forget how helpless I felt in the whole situation.  Helpless is another one of those things I don't do well. I like to fix. I like to be orderly and  yes, in charge.  Don't ask for much in life do I?

So whatever the cause of the blahs tonight I am determined to think of the positives. Because there are a lot of them.  Like Rob, who is pictured above.  Rob who is out on his second date with a really nice young woman he met at our church youth group. She is his first real girl friend and he has fallen hard.  He is growing up so much these days.  Saturday he interviews for a volunteer position at a local natural history museum.  He is stepping out and testing his wings and I love that!

And there are KC and Lissa who dance and sing and perform their little hearts out every evening after supper.  Who can remain blue when someone is tap dancing in the front hall of their home with a large fake candy cane as a prop?

And Chet.  Sometimes it is hard to know when you have made an impact with Chet.  Autism blunts many of his responses so it is hard to know what he is doing because he memorized that "this" was the appropriate response to "that" situation.  But yesterday he spoke with me about things we did at Yule when he was little. It was just neat to me that he remembered.

My wife.  Who cheerfully drove my teen to a city 30 minutes away for his date tonight. 

I have a lot to smile about.  And tomorrow is Friday. . . see me grin!


Death has brushed past me in my life the past two days.  Not in a personal way, but taking people I knew, and I hate that.  In both cases, the people involved are individuals I knew from my work.  The first one, made choices regarding substance abuse that ultimately took her young life.  It is sad.  She is not the first of her family to do this and it is chilling to me to leave children behind because of that choice. I knew her before her demons ran her life and she was sweet and cheerful and caring. 

Then just yesterday, another individual passed away from an unexpected medical problem that required immediate surgery.  Talking with her shattered adult daughter was one of the hardest things I have done.  I remember her mom as one of the nicest people I have dealt with, cheerful in the face of adversity, hopeful and always always careful to make every appointment that we had.

It is never easy to lose someone, but losing them around the holidays is always the hardest.  My heart goes out to their families.