Archive for December, 2010

We’d barely made eye contact when my son guiltily confessed to, uh, nothing. 

What he said:  “I wasn’t doing anything.” 

What he meant:  “While you were taking a shower and I was completely unsupervised for ten minutes, I dumped all 64 oz of my sister’s new bubblebath on my bedroom carpet.  Every drop.”

What I said before I knew this:  “Why are your hands sticky?”

What I meant was:  “Dear God, please don’t let this be honey or syrup or something I care a whole bunch about.”

What I saw next:  A never-used, jumbo bottle of Tinkerbell bubble bath completely empty… AND… pools of the stuff completely soaked into the carpet of a little boy’s room looking like dark puddles of oil minus the rainbows. 

What was really on the carpet:  Uh…pools of bubble bath completely soaked into the carpet.

What I said next:  “You have GOT to be kidding.”

What I meant:  “Sit your behind down RIGHT HERE until I find your dad.”

Where he sat:  On the top of the stairs in his underwear.

For how long:  For the duration of the cleaning party.

Perspective:  We weren’t staring at piles of puke.  Or honey.  Or syrup.  No… heavens, no.  Just mounds upon heaping mounds of foaming bubble bath.

What we did first:  We scrubbed, blotted with beach towels, soaked the carpet with water, blotted some more, sucked up foam with the carpet cleaner until the motor threatened to pass out…. And then we did it 16 more times.

What we did after most of an hour:  We shrugged…and then called over a little boy still in yesterday’s Thomas drawers, and we pointed…and he nodded…and with his quivery lip, he said he was sorry…by which time we did the only thing that made sense…we forgave him.

Then oddly or not oddly, I watched as life resumed its neurotic normalcy as if this hiccup had never happened.


And I was okay with that.


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Why? I say

Sometimes I just don’t ask. 

Only I did.

“Son, why are you spanking the mannequin’s bottom?” 

And again, “Son, why are there 14 size stickers across your face?”

“Why is there a sock on every stair?”

“And every piece of clothing from your drawers in the middle of the floor?”

“Why are you, a pair of scissors and a cereal box underneath the table?”

“And why do think the white crayon doesn’t work?”

Heh…Sometime there just isn’t an answer…

For all I still want to know.

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Me Thinks I Heard a Whine

I don’t know if post-Christmas selfishness hit your house.  But it made a stop at ours.  

Only it was at the moment we were due at my in-laws to eat the meal-of-the-year.  Which meant that either we were taking a selfish child with us.  Or one of us was eating cold steak.

Cold steak it was. 

And so as I drove away with our son who couldn’t believe he had the van and the window controls to himself, my husband had a little chat with our daughter.  What he said…I don’t know.  I only know that a happier child joined us at dinner.  One who ate everything but the crust of her roll and who resisted further meltdown even when it became popular to do so.

Hours later, I found her hand-written list of things she’s thankful for still resting on our dining room table.  Which doesn’t matter so much…the items, that is.  Though feel free to scratch your head with me at number thirteen. 

What matters is that when our daughter practiced being thankful…she actually became thankful.

And you know…

I bet the same would happen to me.

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There’d been some confusion at our manger all December, as manger members disappeared for days at a time.  There’d be Mary, baby Jesus and a lamb.  But no Joseph.  Then Joseph would show up and the shepherd would be off doing whatever…wherever.  Only the lamb was still there.

That all three of our lost-in-route wise men showed up on Christmas morning was a household miracle.  That they’d recruited our Santa soap dispenser and were all kneeling before baby Jesus on the corner of the coffee table seemed strangely appropriate.

Only I’m not sure why.


I am sure, though, that we wanted our kids to know the story behind Mary.  Behind Joseph.  Behind the baby sleepin’ in the straw.  Behind the wise men and their fancy boxes.  All of it.  Which was why, before we tore the wrapping off a single present, we coraled our manger pieces…

took inventory on who was here and who wasn’t… 

and began reading the Christmas story from the Bible in Luke chapter 2.

As she heard their names, our daughter picked up Joseph and Mary and placed them in the stable.

Baby Jesus, too.

Our son did the same with our less breakable version.

Then, as I continued reading…little hands added more pieces.

Only here the shepherd’s a bit early…

’cause, per the story, the angel was still frightening them in the fields while they watched their sheep.

Only this is the only angel we have left.

Not so, uh, frightening.

Still…our shepherd hastened himself and his lone lamb to Bethlehem to see this King that had been born.

The same thing happened over here.  Except that Mary and Joseph seemed to be on the look-out for the shepherds, especially since the sheep were already there.

And even though there wasn’t mention of the wise men yet, it was too hard to resist giving them a spot beside Baby Jesus and his blue binky.

Which was when our daughter suggested we just jump ahead and pretend that Jesus was two or three years old now, so that we could put the wise men somewhere. 

And so we did.

Here’s the final gathering on our carpet.

Looking peaceful, even.

Which, if there were nothing wrapped and stacked under the tree, would be enough.

God’s peace, that is…

God’s peace.

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That this Christmas tree is wearing breakable bulbs from top branch to tree skirt can mean but one thing:  It ain’t ours.

Rather…it is a far cry from ours which has been snipped of most of its bottom branch on the right side, has no water because the cat was thirsty, lacks garland on the whole top half, and has never heard of matching ornaments.  Uh, ever.

This is my in-law’s tree.  Fake as they come.  Pretty, too. 

And this is their living room…

which strained to contain the excitement of four kids with presents reflecting off their eyeballs.  One of these kids is mine.  And that present behind him is his.

Only he knows it.  Which meant he thought he could sneek a private peek. 

Heh heh…who would know?

Only now that the supervised shredding of paper has begun… 

Here’s our daughter, quite pleased to be a new pet owner.  Even if it’s just of that pillow.

And our son who can’t remember being this happy since yesterday.

Here he is with my mother-in-law whose fault it is he can’t stop smiling.

And here’s the small crowd of cousins whose attention we all want at the same time and to whom we resorted to snapping our fingers and waving our hands like we’d been saving seats for them for two hours in the front row and if they’d just look our way…  Um…


I feel fortunate to have snagged three of the four…

Because the rest of the time, the guy in the blue vest had a candle to sniff. 

And then a pack of girls to sprawl on.


Here’s the lot of us.  Minus my in-laws. 

Ain’t nothing more beautiful than nobody crying. Which, uh, means…this isn’t that.

But this was.

Cuz couldn’t nothin’ compare to fire…

in the hands of a three year old…

who’s finally been trusted to hold his own candle and who would sing at the same time were that possible.

And now behold…the most blessed compound word of all…

Bed. Time.


Thank you, Lord…for such a Merry Christmas Eve.

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Dog Walking 101

That our dog is one of those untiny dogs has caused more than one person to gasp at the front door.  But if you’re my son and a giant German Shepherd is all you’ve ever hugged, size doesn’t matter.  And apparently neither does your ensemble.

Here’s my son in his sister’s pink boots from last year walking the dog.

Which went smootly for a driveway and a half.

Until our son missed a beat with those boots and our dog walked our son.  Or something like that.

 But ain’t nobody anything but happy…

not the kid with the leash…

and not the dog without the kid…

Definitely not the dog.

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Maybe Santa Claus is a part of your Christmas tradition.  Which is completely your business.  No judgement, here.  I just had no idea he was a part of ours.  Until a friend stopped by and asked my son if he was excited for Christmas.  Which was like asking him, “do you think we should feed you today?”  Somewhat rhetorical.

Only in response, my son zipped ahead of her down the hallway, pointed to our gas fireplace and told her with complete conviction that that was where Santa Claus was coming.  A miracle I wouldn’t mind witnessing.  In the time it took my friend to smirk, my son was in the kitchen–this time showing her the five dozen cookies we’d just made for Santa.  

Which I could barely refute, since I was so newly enlightened about the fireplace. 

I don’t know if my son had more to say about Santa.  I just figured I’d help myself to one of Santa’s non-cookies, as I wondered for a moment where we might’ve derailed. 

Should my son not be excited about Santa?  Should the Santa hand soap dispenser actually be in the bathroom…or is it okay that it’s hovering over baby Jesus in the manger like one of the shepherds? 


Driving home a moment ago, my kids shouted out at each yard Santa we passed.   Santa, it seemed, was hanging out on every other corner and porch step.  But then from six inches away in the backseat I heard my daughter say, ” Jesus is everywhere.”  And in whole agreement, my Santa-excited son added, “even in my tummy.”

So, while Santa may bring a smile,  get credit for gifts, and supernaturally squeeze down our chimney, Jesus, that baby in the manger lookin’ up at soapy Santa, is the guy who saves.  All of us.

St. Nick, too.

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