Tuesday, December 29, 2009

bah humbug: part deux

such good comments. thanks ladies and fellow. i have continued to think about this as the christmas season has gone on. i don't think there can be any one, big answer. every family has to do what works for them. i think the key though is to really put thought into it so that the things that we choose to do as a family have meaning and then weed out the things that aren't important-the extra STUFF of it all. really, i think this is the key with all parts of life. so often we get caught up in the things/stuff we should do/need, when really, it just adds more stress to our lives. conscious simplicity-that's my goal for my family.

the santa comments were interesting. on the flip side of what you said michelle, i know someone who, once they found out santa/easter bunny/tooth fairy(the triad) weren't real, started to question whether God and guardian angels where real. something to think about, or at least think about how much emphasis we put on those things. i think i will stick to doing st. nick's day. i always wished we did that as a kid and think it's fun to use shoes as a gift receptacle. and maybe put unwrapped candy in them to see if my boys would still eat it ; ) (who am i kidding-they totally would!!)

even though i think we'll go along with the idea of the triad, we won't really play it up. maybe just read stories about them and then when they ask, just reference the story. no big shenanigans to draw it out. that way when our kids find out, it won't be a big deal. we'll just tell them that we did it because we love them and wanted something special for them. and then keep doing it even after they know to reaffirm that love through the effort. it wasn't a big deal for me when i found out, but then again, i was five. i like to think my figuring it out is a sign of great intelligence. or suspicion of everything and paranoia.

we honestly haven't given the boys christmas presents ever because we haven't been home and i give all my good present ideas to other family members who want to get them gifts. but i think next year we'll change that because ben will be old enough. i think it would be cool to do our little family celebration of the feast of the Holy Family or wait until the Epiphany, because that is, after all, when baby J got his presents. (waiting all the way till january to open presents for us probably isn't very realistic. we are notorious impatient, early present openers. i intentionally waited until two days before christmas to get tim's present so i wouldn't give it early.)

i like the simplicity of the three gift idea. my cousin gives her boys each three presents: a book, a clothing item, and a toy-easy shopping for her and reasonable expectations for them. my sister has simplified further with one gift per child. granted, that's from their parents. they still get plenty of toys from other family members. if we do in fact get to celebrate our little Family Day on the feast of the Holy Family (and i think we will!) it would be nice to get gifts that would bring us closer together as a family-art supplies, family movies, board games, sports equipment, etc.

oh, i really like how this is taking shape! we WILL win back the holiday season! as always, thanks for your wonderful comments and ideas.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

bah humbug

*** i tried. i really, really tried to write a post about my feeling about christmas. below lies the ramblings of what i just couldn't completely draw out of my brain and vocalize. i have weird feelings about christmas. if you dare read below, you will see that. (or you will just see that i'm weird and be amazed that i've ever put together a coherent post considering how swirly my brain is.) because i want my time of trying to vocalize all this to not be a waste, and to make this productive, this is what i do know about christmas-time next year.

-we are going to celebrate a real advent. we are really going to prepare our hearts and minds. (ha. that will be interesting. "gosh darn it ben and max! you guys better shape up and prepare your hearts, or else...!!!)
-we are going to simplify gift-giving even more than our pretty pared down list.
-i will put my foot down and limit our holiday appearances.
-we fill focus our time and energy on family time and leisure. i'm sure tim can help me with the leisure part.

so read the rest if you want. but it might give you a headache.

i've been wanting to post, but it seems almost sacrilegious to not post about christmas when it's christmas time, and i really don't have a lot to say about christmas, or at least not things that wouldn't earn me dirty looks.

don't get me wrong, i think Christ's birth was a totally awesome thing for which i'm very thankful, and i enjoy how the holiday brings out the best in many people, but i really dislike what christmas from a consumer standpoint has come to mean. i really dislike the expectations, the stuff, and the hectic hustle of it all.

i know most of my feeling are my own fault, but they are still my feelings.

i miss the anticipation of christmas. as a kid my mom always did a wonderful job of decorating the house. (she still does and my boys LOVE looking at her decorations.) i don't decorate much because i 1.) don't want to spend money on decorations, 2.) don't like unpacking, repacking, and finding storage space for decorations, 3.) i'm lazy. each year i get a little better about it, but it's been a slow transformation. it's weird but a lil festivity around the house really makes a big difference.

but the real anticipation that i miss is advent. as a kid, advent was like lent-lite. we gave things up to prepare our hearts for Christ's coming. or at least that was the idea. really, i just gave things up, and then cheated, because that's what we were supposed to do. but it still meant something. and when christmas finally came, it was exciting.

yah know, what? as i write this, i keep trying to put my finger on why i feel so grinchy. i keep thinking about what christmas was like when i was a kid and how it's different. yes, as a kid there was a lot of anticipation before christmas and it seemed like it took FOR.EVER. for christmas to come, but really, deep down, christmas hasn't changed that much for me since i was a kid, because even as a kid, i was a brat about christmas. it was mostly all about the presents. i would hoard my stuff away, get annoyed when santa came for my little brother and not for the rest of us (what da heck, santa?!), and calculate who all i would get things from.

as a mother, i so desperately don't want that for my boys. but christmas has so much built into it that i don't even know how to break away. look at easter-the celebration of Christ's resurrection. easter is wonderful and joyous and i don't have to stress out for a month about what to get everyone, make all the appropriate easter stuff, and then haul my family around town until they are cranky, i'm beyond cranky, and we're all exhausted.

but like i said, i just don't know how to break away from it ALL. how do i not make a big deal out of santa, and yet not ruin it for family members who choose to. we didn't do anything santa-y. ben likes santa stories, but we've left it at that-stories. but all of my nephew's on tim's side still believe. and oh course, that's the first thing they talk about. fortunately, i don't think we ruined it for them. although, while i was talking on the phone to a friend about all this, ben, while playing with cars on the floor, said, "santa's not real". when i asked him more about this, he said, "santa's not real. he's at the north pole." i think i'm going to leave it at that for now. i will neither confirm nor deny anything.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

gross, but i couldn't resist.

*as warned in the title, this post is a bit gross. but i'm warning you again, so no one can complain.

ben has been supplementing his diet with.....boogers. yes, as much as we tell him not to and offer him tissues to use instead, he believes in recycling. if anyone has a good remedy for this problem, i'm open to suggestions.

but tonight the following dialogue occurred and made me laugh:

while holding max i went to unbuckle ben's car seat, but first told him to stop picking his nose. noticing he had only stopped because he had found what he wanted and was en route to his mouth with it, i had no choice but to intercept it with my own bare finger and flip it off. because it was dark and he couldn't see what i had done when i turned around, ben dejectedly asked, head bowed, "did you let max eat my big booger?" like i had just stolen his candy and given it to the baby. i gagged a bit for max's sake and informed him that it was in the grass. i think my exact words were, "ugh! gross! (like a thirteen year old) NO, i did not let max eat your booger." for some reason, that made him feel better.

ahhhh, life with boys.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the tale of a craft

ben and i made this wreath yesterday. toilet paper rolls painted with some leftover paint from another project. it was supposed to be a fun little easy, mindless project. supposed to be. so before you think, "oh mary, you're so creative and do such fun projects with your kids"( which is what smug internal dialogue mary told me when i came up with this idea), let me tell you what really happened.

while ben and max played with play-doh, i got the supplies out. hoping max would stay content with eating/playing with the play-doh, i called ben over. but of course, as soon as ben started painting, max lost it, wanting to paint too. not wanting to deal with a baby using acrylic paint, i tried to distract him with a paint brush and his own, very hard paper towel roll. he threw the paint brush down and hit me in the eye with the paper towel roll. max literally screamed the whole time ben painted the tp rolls that i would hold on my fingers. the first roll i helped him paint (annoyed that he wasn't painting the whole roll completely), after which i realized, i liked how it looked half painted/ben style much better. so with max screaming we persevered. ben got tired of painting them, so towards the end, i fake ben-style painted the last few rolls. but only after i cleaned off the table, where he had painted it after managing to push back the four layers of protective newspaper i had put down.

after letting the rolls dry (and calming max down) i strung them on to the jute twine, fully expecting them to make a perfect wreath circle, which i could then hang up and be done. instead, because the twine was just that-twine, it instead formed a pathetic, droopy oval. really, really annoyed and contemplating throwing the rolls into the wood burning stove, i went and found a wire hanger that i untwisted and made into a circle. after several wimpy attempts at twisting the hanger back together and unsuccessfully searching for ben's plastic pliers to aid me, i taped the ends of the hanger together with electrical tape. of course i had to unwind and re tape it three times because it still wasn't "circling" right. i finally just gave up/settled and called it good enough. i them hung it up and went to get ready for mass. a few minutes later while i was getting ready, ben was talking to me from the bottom of the stairs. when i came around the corner to hear him better, he was swinging my precious wreath around. although i didn't threaten to break his arms if he touched it again, i didn't exactly handle the moment with grace.

lessons i learned from this little easy, mindless project:

1. projects are never as simple as i think they are going to be. especially with the boys around. if it's something that i really care about the outcome, don't do it with the boys, or at least not with max around. maybe i should just stick to reading crafty blogs and be content.

2. don't be so dang smug internal dialogue mary. otherwise, real mary has to learn the humbling lessons that quiet you. when i'm tired and my brain is fried, i shouldn't try to pass the time with a multiple step art project. that's the time for some pbs and a mommy time-out.

3. learned from amykarol- if you don't like the final result of your project, leave it alone for a little while and when you come back to it, you'll be less critical of it/actually like the outcome.