Saturday, December 22, 2012

All That's Left Is the Baking

I'm curled up right now in a red flannel blanket having just finished a rather large bowl of reheated spaghetti that was drenched in a thick meat sauce of serious comfort food caliber.  The kids are outside playing in the backyard breathing in crisp winter air as the wind slaps their already red, chapped cheeks.  We only just changed out of our pajamas, though I'm not really sure why.  We only changed from flannel pajama bottoms into sweat pants which we will likely go to bed in. Strike that, most of us changed out of our pajamas.  As I look out of the window now I can see that the middle sprite threw her boots on with her pajamas.   That is the kind of day we are having.  It's my favorite kind of day.

The boy crept out of his room this morning before the girls were out of bed so that he could catch them before they woke me up.  He kept them quiet so that I could sleep in this morning. It was the best Christmas gift he could have given me.  He's too good to be true some days.  He's also an old soul who can sense when it will benefit everyone for his exhausted mama to get some sleep.

I have been tired lately.  This semester has drained me.  I finished my finals and immediately felt the need to sleep for days, likely because I hadn't slept for more than a few hours a night for weeks at that point.  I question this endeavor, daily.  I know that I'm going somewhere and deep down I know that going back to school is the best choice for our long term well-being.  But some days, it just seems impossible.  I'm thirty-one with three kids. I have a job where I make less than most non-profit workers and I'm pushing myself to get this degree in three years.  I'm tired.

I need days like today.  I need a few of them, all in a row.  Days like this let my shoulders relax.  I caught up on all of my favorite blogs this morning.  And I pulled out my volume of Frost.  I needed my mind to be filled with something other than stress and worry.  My mind feels quieter and inspired.

Last night I wrapped the last of the Christmas gifts.  I kept it simple this year, but I was also intentionally thoughtful with each gift.  I think they will all be pleasantly surprised.  Other intentions were not fulfilled this year.  I didn't get more than a handful of Christmas cards mailed out.  And I didn't get gifts to all of the friends I had hoped to.  I wanted to say thank you for all of their support throughout the year.  Maybe I'll say thank you with a New Years gift instead.  I've done what I can and I'm letting go of the rest.   It is time for all to be done so that I can join the sprites in the countdown.  All that's left to do is the baking.

The scent of cinnamon and butterscotch is thick in the kitchen right now as the Christmas cookies bake.  Soon I'll call them in and we'll all sit down to dinner.  We'll light the advent candle and share stories from our lazy winter day.  My gift to myself this year is to enjoy these days.  They are short and before long they will be gone.  Three days until Christmas.   Three precious days.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Dust of Snow
-Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart 
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.*

The Winter Soltice is upon us and I am grateful.  Every year I long for this date.  I love winter.  I love the quiet in the cold.  And while I know it's not snowing, I'm hoping that it soon will.  My soul needs a good snow.  A white blanket of peace fallen to the Earth is exactly what my unsettled heart needs.  Welcome winter.  As the trees sleep so shall our spirits, in reflection, as we await the spring.

* Chris had to choose a poem to memorize and recite in class this week.  This is the poem he chose.  It's one of my favorites, so I was thrilled.  Though I should say that the only reason he chose it was because it's only two stanza's long and he wanted one about snow because he is wishing for snow as much as I am.   His teacher set up the classroom like a "coffeehouse" and they all snapped after each poem.  What a cool teacher!   I really wish it wasn't completely humiliating for parents to go into a middle school classroom.  I really wanted to see him recite this.  My boy, stretching his cultural limits a little more each day!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crazy Beautiful Sprite

This girl is crazy.  Crazy in the best possible way, of course.  She's fun and mischievious.  If you visit this site often, you know that I call my kids sprites.  This third child started that.  They are all sprite-like, but she may actually be a sprite.  She's my wild child and yet she's one of the sweetest girls you'll ever meet.  She loves hugs and cuddling and she can write a thank you letter that will bring you to tears. She's a paradox wrapped up in pretty pink bow.  She's the kind of kid who can make you smile right after she breaks your antique crystal vase.  I love her for it, but she's a mess.  A beautiful mess with a lot of energy.

My answer for all of that energy is to keep her in the gym as many days as I can afford.  Luckily, she's more than alright with that.  She loves being at the gym.  Part of it for her is the challenge.  The girl is a born athlete.  She's strong.  She's has more upper body strength at seven than I think I've ever had.  She can fall into a full split in less than three seconds.  And she can pirouette on the balance beam as if she was born walking on her toes.  The other part of her love for the gym is the chance to show off.  She takes full advantage of her position as the baby of the family and expects that all eyes are on her, all of the time.  She knows that when she walks out on the mat she's better than all of us at what she's about to do.  That makes her sound arrogant.  And maybe she is, a little, we're working on that.  But the thing is, she isn't like this all of the time.  Just like Analiese finds her confidence on stage, Sicily finds her confidence in the gym.  So when she comes home crying because someone made fun of her on the playground, I remind her of how amazing she is and then we go to the gym where she can prove it.  When she can't figure out her homework, I tell her to do a few cartwheels and then read upside down.  And she does and everything makes sense.  Really.  The girl reads upside down sometimes.  I told you she was crazy.  But I wouldn't want her to be any other way.  She's a crazy beautiful sprite.  Just the thought of her makes me smile.  My beautiful little mess.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


My girl has been doing a little more confidence building this month.  She was part of the cast for A Modern Christmas Carol.  Her face shines a little more with each performance she does at the playhouse.  She truly loves being there.  I love that she has found a place to grow and build friendships.  I love that no matter what her role, she gives it her all.  I love that she wants to get there early and lingers when it's over.  After this last performance, she's officially on holiday.  (And yes, she says she's on holiday.  She's on a British kick.)  Even though she knows she needs this break, she is already excited to get back to the playhouse in the New Year.  Every time we run into one of her theater friends, they start chatting about the spring musical.  They are all ready to start auditions and rehearsals.  It's their world and there is no where else they would rather be.

I'm so proud of this girl.  She is beautiful inside and out.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Boy Learns to Play the Clarinet

Seeing this guy in a tie has made my year. For a kid who can usually be found in athletic shorts and a t-shirt, year round, he cleans up very nicely.  In fact, I know I'm his mama and therefore biased, but I have to say he is, hands down, one of the most handsome guys I know...

Oh, sorry, I got sidetracked by the tie, when really we're here to discuss why he's wearing a tie.  The boy had his first band concert last week.  And I'm happy to say, that this group of ragamuffin sixth graders sounded pretty good. Standing ovation for the band teacher, please!  Most of these kids didn't know what half of these instruments were three months ago, so I was thoroughly impressed when all three songs were recognizable with only a few occasional squeaks.

If someone had told me last year at this time that this year I would be watching my son play the clarinet while wearing a tie, I would have laughed and told them that they were mistaken.  But I have to say, I'm so very glad that I would have been wrong.  Band has been one of his favorite classes.  This goes back to the teacher.  Three teachers, to be exact.  His fifth grade music teacher pushed him out on stage, outside of his comfort zone.  And because he surprised himself and enjoyed that, he signed up for band. Now he has another teacher who motivates him to do his best and because of that he is learning to play an instrument and read music.  His math teacher adds to this mix by encouraging her students to learn music.  She gives lessons in why music is mathematical.  All of these women are great teachers.  They are teachers who know how to motivate their students.  They are teachers that know the value of the arts in education.  They are teachers who are helping to shape my son's life.  And for that I owe them a great amount of gratitude.

I'm proud of this boy.  I'm proud of him for learning something new.  I'm proud of him for pushing past the early frustration that comes from learning an instrument, or anything new for that matter.  I'm proud of him for practicing and pushing himself to actually do well.  I have never once had to remind him to practice.  But that's the kind of kid he is.  When he sets his mind to something, he does it well.  It's one of his better character traits.

I hope he sticks with this.  I've liked seeing him move outside of his off-stage comfort zone.  I'm hoping to see him continue until he's in the spotlight.  Somewhere, someday.  Maybe it won't be for playing the clarinet.  In fact, I'll say it likely won't be a spotlight clarinet solo.  (Are there spotlight clarinet solos?)  But this story isn't just about the clarinet; there are greater life lessons at play here.  This kid is smart enough to one day be in the spotlight for something, that much I know.  And when that day comes, you better believe I'll be in the audience, camera ready.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Santa Came a Little Early

My whole family was together for Thanksgiving and we knew wouldn't see each other again until after the New Year.  So we decided to call our holiday "Thanksmas".  At least, that's what the kids kept calling it.  We ate turkey and opened gifts all within 24 hours so it seemed a fitting title to our little holiday time.  With six kids opening a mound of presents each, it was a bit of a wrapping paper flurry.  But that's part of the fun of it.  It was a lovely, festive mess, filled with awed expressions and laughter.