Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Cards

I wanted to put out a big fat disclaimer to people because I am starting to feel a little guilty. I sent out about 60 Christmas cards this year. I have recieved about 15. I send out cards because I truly love too. Yes, I support Hallmark. I do not expect a single card back. I don't anyone to feel like they have to send me one back, ever. I love to receive them, I love getting the pictures, and I love reading the updates in people's lives-but I only love to receive them if you love to send them as much as I do. Don't make it a chore or another holiday "must". Next time you see me, say "hi". Write me a quick e-mail. It doesn't have to be a Christmas card. I have been sending a card to close friend now for about 15 years, and she sent a card back to me once, in 1994. So really, it isn't about getting something back for me-I just love to send them. The reason I feel so guilty is that I have had many, many people apologize to me for not sending a card back. I didn't mean to make people feel bad!!! Or add to holiday stress. So next year, same thing-I will be sending cards out. But I will not expect many back-cards aren't everyone's thing and I am great with that.
Happy Holidays!!!!!

Annual Christmas Shopping

I wasn't going to blog about this, but my sister's e-mail was hacked, so if I want to share this with her, this is the only way to do it. So sit back, relax, and enjoy "The Annual Christmas Shopping Trip".
My mom's birthday is December 25. That's right-Christmas Day. It is an annual Christmas tradition that my sister and I went out shopping with my dad, for my mom, for both Christmas and birthday. My sister now lives half way around the world but she is with us in spirit. I just need to share the dialogue. And when I say every year this tradition has continued; every year as long as I can remember except the one year I was in Pennsylvania and it was Alina and dad. This is truly one of the biggest Christmas traditions our family has-shopping for mom. Now, though we are helping dad shop for mom, as my sister and I do our own shopping. Believe me, he needs all the help he can get.
This year, because of circumstances, the shopping trip didn't happen till yesterday. I thought it would be a relaxed affair as most people would be traveling and taking advantage of having Monday off as well. I was also able to pawn off Asa unto the other Grandma and Grandpa so I didn't have to take him to the mall. When I felt things going smoothly, I should have gotten suspicious.
My cold is getting better, but yesterday morning it was in full swing. Nothing says joy to the world like a snotty nose and itchy eyes. But I plastered a smile on my face, waved good-bye to Asa, and hooked up with mom and dad. Now this year was a little different in that mom came with. Okay, we adapt. So taking advantage of no Asa, we went to the local science museum (OMSI) and saw their latest exhibit "Antartic To Antarctica". Great exhibit, I want to go to Antarctica, off to the mall.
This is where things got fun. It is pouring down rain. Rain at Christmas is nothing new but we dressed to stay dry so we fried in the mall where there were 3 million people who were NOT apparently traveling anywhere for the holidays. It was very busy! We drop mom off at the food court with a book, a latte (the woman is addicted), and our coats. So instead of melting I just felt like I was in a great big inferno most of the time. The first store we go into, it is there-the perfect gift. (Mom reads this-I am not saying what!!!) But dad is hemming and hawwing and it is hotter in the store than the mall. 20 minutes later we leave empty handed, head to the knick knack paddy whack store and pick up a few things. Head to three more stores, all at opposite ends of the mall, finding nothing. What we want to get her is gone, what she wants is at a different mall. About now I am thinking we will have to pull an Aunt Bethany from Christmas Vacation and wrap up the cat so mom has something for at least one of the holidays when dad says he will go back to the first store and see if he can find something else mom might want. These four or five sentences took an hour and a half to complete. But I am still full of Christmas spirit-I haven't run out of tissue yet.
Pause here-there are many things we have more than one of. Pictures, books, clothing, kitchen utensils, jewelery, underwear I hope. I point this out because back at the first store, dad is starting to change his mind again. I used my last tissue and when dad said" a person only really needs one of these" I replied "like a hunter only needs one gun". If you know a hunter you know that they have a rifle for big game, little game, cold days, warm days, summer, fall, big bullets, little bullets, etc., etc. My dad has approxiamtely 80 weapons between handguns and rifles. It was the perfect argument if I do say so myself because 2 hours later, we had the perfect gift and I ran to get tissue before I embarassed myself.
So another Christmas shopping trip under our belt and no got hurt or even cried (which has happened in previous years). And all grumpy words have been washed away with the incessant rain we seem to be having. It was quite a successfull trip this year.

The school is closed from the Dec. 24 till Jan. 2. I hope everyone has a great and happy holiday season!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Family Part 2

Nick and I get comments all the time-are we having a second baby? Sure-if you could pick one up at Wal-mart I might do it tommorrow. The truth of the matter is that a second baby is almost as big a lifestyle change as the first one. For starters, I lose my guest room. I would also have to go back to work full-time not to mention the demands on our time as kids get older and start joining sports, clubs, etc. I am not saying I am unwilling-only that it is tough decision.
None of which is made easier by the fact I have a 2 year old running around. The best form of birth control-a 2 year old. One night, Nick says to me that he is ready to discuss the possibility of a second child. Great-I only need 15 minutes to get Asa to bed. I come downstairs and my response is met by a snore-daddy is asleep. Same thing happened the next night. So that weekend we agree after the movie we are watching is over, we will discuss baby number two. I am asleep by the time the movie is over. Asa takes a lot of energy. I guess we could make it a bigger priority but it is hard to want to sit and talk about a baby when the advertisement for children is running around my house screaming "no" and carrying around a blanket and stuffed animal that Nick says smells like "monkey butt". Serioulsy, after spending 45 minutes in the breezeway of a restraunt so Asa's temper trantum wouldn't bother the other diners all I could think was "why does my mother hate me so much she wants me to suffer twice as much as I am now?" I love my son, and I won't trade him in for anything, but I could mother a dog and get something that might actually listen to me.
The grandparents one ray of hope is that I don't think the world needs another "only son" (no offense dad, Uncle Hal, Nick, Ryan, and Grandpa Pete.) That and I imagine our household when my kids would be about 8 and 11. Things might not be so bad then-or they could be worse. It is best not to go down that path after all. I just have to keep my reminding myself that nothing lasts forever and that includes diapers, whining, and best friends that smell like monkey butt. So just so it is official: in response to are we having another baby I reply with confidence-maybe.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Best Christmas Ever

My sister and I were lucky-when we were little every Christmas was a good Christmas. We had family, we had Santa, and we had enough chocolate to outfit a village in a third world country. Not every kid can say that and we aren't dummies-we know we had it good.
However, when you get older Christmas changes. You realize Santa is less a physical entity and more the spirit of giving, the chocolate sticks to your hips like a drowning man clutching a life preserver, and it seems like traffic get's worse every year. Finding the Magic of Christmas get's difficult when you grow up.
Christmas 1996 is the year I got my magic back. My sister and I were sharing a car and she wanted to borrow it to go see a friend. It was December 23. I don't know why but I had a bad feeling. If I could have I would have kept the car keys I would have, but I had no earthly reason to not be a good sister and let her have the car that night. But I left a note telling her to be careful. Sure enough, about 1:30a we got a call-she'd been in an accident. I had my shoes on before my mom was off the phone, and fearing the worse but hoping for the best since Alina called under her own authority, we drove out to Oregon City. The car, and Alina's muscles, were toast. She was sore all over and had some impressive bruises, and her back would never be the same, but she was able to go home. The car had rolled on an oil slick that had caused multiple accidents that night. The roof caved in 3 inches and when the fireman showed up at the hosipital the next day to return her stuff, they were shocked she was home. We never saw the car again the wreckage was that bad.
Christmas Eve I went up to Nick's house and I got home after everyone was in bed. The tree was lit, the twinkle lights that played music were humming their tune, and everyone but me was snuggled in bed, some with the help of pain killers. It was like the end of the movie "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie says that all was right with the world. That was exactly how I felt-all was right with the world. Everyone was safe and sound, there were presents I couldn't wait to see opened and they weren't for me, and it truly felt like Santa had been over our house, even if he didn't stop because their were no children.
Ever since then, every year, Christmas seems magical. It is like being a kid all over again. The lights, the trees, the shopping, the finding the perfect gift for people, the helping out our fellow man-I love it all. And every year I go to bed Christmas Eve and I feel like Santa is flying over my house at some point in the night. Do I blame my sister? Partly. Nothing reminds you what is truly important then being a part of circumstances you can't control-of watching someone wince in pain when they simply go to the bathroom. Maybe if Alina had had her accident two days before Independence Day, I would be writing about the best Fourth of July ever. But I also liek to think that maybe a little maturity kicked in too. Whatever, 1996 was the best Christmas ever, along with every Christmas since.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Ones We Miss

I was reading the obituaries yesterday and saw this poem a mom had printed for her deceased son. I don't know if she wrote it, or got it from somewhere else. Of course, as the mother of a son, I conected right away, but I feel that this could apply to mother's of daughters, lovers, families, friends-anyone we care about. Especially around the holidays, there always seems to be someone we miss.

Thank-you, to the mother of David A. Adams 1953-1977

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal."

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Great Season For Oregon in Football

Currently, in the NFL, there are four-yes four!-starting quarterbacks that were Oregon players.

Joey Harrington-Atlanta Falcons Duck U of O
Kellen Clemmons-NY Jets Duck U of O
AJ Feeley-Eagles Duck U of O
Derek Anderson-Cleveland Browns Beaver OSU
(Some of you read this from out of state so I put school and mascot.)

Okay, there are three former Ducks and one former Beaver-I won't gloat. But either way you cut it, it is a great day for Oregon programs in the NFL. Now let's be honest-if these players came from Ohio State, Notre Dame, or aany other school that seems to think football was handed to them directly from God, I think there would be a bit more press. It is impressive to have this many Quarterbacks out of one area. But alas, the Pacific NW gets little credit for the good teams they have. All we do is smoke pot and drink beer-right?
Now, there was a bit about Kellen Clemmons and Derek Brown playing against each other. Apparently they played against each other in high school, college, AND now in the pro's. I guess they broke a record? Or did the announcer's finally find Oregon on a map? I kid you not-I heard on NATIONAL TV that OSU was located in Beaverton. Um, annoucners make to much money not to be able to find Corvallis.
Whether this phenomenon will happen continue next season, or even the next game for that matter, who knows. The NFL is brutal and players can come and go like the wind. But for now, I take a lot of pride that Oregon Football Programs have such a good representation right now. Way to go guys!!!
(Okay, I wanted to say way to go boys but damn, does that make me sound old or what?!)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Village Idiot

Apparently I am an angry person this week because I have yet another complaint.
There is a commercial I keep seeing where a mom is reading with her little boy in some lobby and the other mom's are all impressed because the son is truly reading and he's only 4.
My beef is this: why is it so damn important that he read by 4? Would the mom be less proud if he wasn't reading? Is she so concerned about his education or is it a reflection on her that she has produced this genius?
Okay, maybe I am reading way to much into a product designed to make someone money (because that is the main function of most products) but every time I see that commercial I grit my teeth. Asa is 2-I don't care if he can read at 4. One day I will look at him and say "that is a red square and that is the letter "Z", and he will know what I am talking about. He may be 4, he maybe 14, but one day, his memorization skills will kick in and it won't matter. What I do worry about teaching him is the abstract. How do I teach my child to be creative? A problem solver? To not give up because it is to difficult, but to know when it is okay to accept defeat after we tried our best? Those are the lessons I find way more important then making sure my 7 year old can recite verbatim the Gettysburg Address.
Now statistically, the chances of Asa being a "reader" are high. He sees me reading, we read together, and we can pick out the capital letters "A", "E", and "O" most of the time. But if we get to school and he has a "learning disbalilty", it could take longer for all that to sink in. Big deal. My own opinion is that as research catches up with current knowledge, "learning disabilities" and their stigma, will be a thing of the past (unless you are Tom Cruise and then you can just buck up and "think" your problem away). More and more they are finding that learning is a lot more individualistic that previously thought. Just because you can't learn something one way, doesn't mean you can't learn it a different way. And the people who succeeded in the past weren't the smartest-just the most adaptable. As more and more learning styles are discovered, more and more teaching styles will be developed. A big argument for small classes in my opinion.
What this means to my blog is that I want Asa to be a happy 4 year old without the pressure of being some super child. In modern times, two of the greatest thinkers in the world were considered idiots and either kicked out school or didn't do well-Albert Einstein and Thomas A. Edison. I hope Asa is that stupid.
Oooo-I think I feel better now!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Critic Censor Thyself

Awhile back, my dad and I had a conversation about censorship. Long conversation shortened, after listening to some conservative guy on the radio, my dad felt censorship on tv was acceptable. Astounded I would disagree, AFTER I agreed with dad and Mr. Conservative that tv had lots of crap on it, I told my dad that my tv already had a censorship button on it-it's called the On/Off switch. And if for some reason I am unable to turn off the tv (because it has a certain hypnotic quality that helps me waste time) my back up is the channel changer. I will agree there are many opportunities to watch things I consider vile, deragatory, and absolutely degrading. But funny, on my tv, those things never seem to happen. My tv doesn't have to much sex, nor to much violence, so why would I be concerned about government censorship? Or rephrased-why would I want someone else, the governement, deciding what I should and should not watch?
So every Christmas I am privy to read or hear on the news the following conversation, that I have re-created in the interest of space:
Interviewer: So ma'am/sir, are you afraid that Christmas is to comercial?
Person: Oh absolutely! It is disgusting the way people go all out. Like they have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.
Interviewer: I see you have the latest, most expensive toy out there. This is for a relative? Niece? Son?
Person: Oh yeah, for my kids. They will love it.
Interviewer: But you were concerned about commercialism? Do you think this contributes?
Person: It's not my fault. Everybody out there insists on buying these big gifts and then my kids expect it. Besides, the kids really want it-what are you goin to do?
I honestly don't mind people watching the worst that tv has to offer, and I don't mind that some people seem to have the goal of spending so much money they seem to out spend Santa Claus. But what I don't want to hear is people bitching about it! If you spend enough on the holiday to outfit a third world nation, I don't want to hear how Christmas is going down the tubes!!! If you watch couples trying to cheat on each other on a desert island, don't tell me tv has nothing but sex on it!