Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Melissa, the Red Nosed Mommy

I couldn't escape the holidays without some sort of insanity. This year it was in the form of the nastiest head cold (courtesy of my three favorite second grade students) that manifested itself into a raging sinus infection. Of course, I believe in Christmas. It is in my genes. My Papa used to dress up in a Santa suit and deliver toys to the families of the men who worked for him. My father planned Christmas days that would make a magazine feel inadequate. Therefore, I trudged forth. Yes we made and delivered cookies. Yes, I wrapped gifts while stopping every two minutes to blow my nose. The girls tried to help and I tried not to yell. There was paper everywhere. Rob, who does not really get the holiday, was not much help. He hates it when I get sick. He seems to take it as a personal affront.

Christmas day went well. We scaled back this year and the girls enjoyed it just as much. My family came for dinner at 1:00 and I spent the afternoon with a cup of tea in one hand and a tissue box in the other. By the time they left and Rob's parents arrived, the tea was replaced with wine.

I also went to Connecticut with my brother and the girls. We had a wonderful time, despite the hellish traffic (it took nine hours to get back to VA). I have saved up lots of funny Lily stories, but right now my head is so full of gunk, I can't think straight. Right now my cousin from CT is visiting. She's the most remarkable 17 year old I've ever met. The girls are in heaven. They have been dragging her from game to game. I love having my youngest brother and teen cousins visit. I get to have the feel of a big family for a little while.

Have a wonderful new year.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I read The Lonely Doll to Lily tonight. She loved it. I knew she would! I used to pour over that book and any other Lonely Doll book I could find. I knew how that doll felt and to me her world was magic. I remember getting a copy of The Lonely Doll and Midnight. Of course, like so many of my childhood things, it is gone now. It is also out of print. Well, that stinks! There are only 3 of the 10 from the series still in print. I do have one of the out of print ones, though! Rob's grandma had a copy of The Lonely Doll Learns a Lesson. She seemed so amazed by how enthralled and excited I was to see it (I was 24) that she said "well, just take it." It's a little well loved, so I'll wait to show it to Lily.

While I was looking for info on the books, I came across the story of Dare Wright the author. She seemed to a child-woman, who never really grew up. It seems there is a great deal of controversy and potential scandal about her life, but I looked at her official website which is managed by a close family friend. After looking at it, she seemed to be more along the lines of J.M. Barrie, someone who was able to live in a child's world, but not really able to handle the adult world. I think these people are special souls. Being an adult is hard, children are so real and honest. They believe in magic and love. There are no strings attached. Of course my mind also jumps to Michael Jackson, which muddies the water a bit.

Before, I ramble further and become more incoherent, I stumbled across another memory. Did any of you ever see The Red Balloon? That movie killed me. I remember watching it in school and it breaking my heart. I vividly remember the bullys chasing the boy and the balloon. I knew what it felt like to be bullied. I was tormented daily. Sometimes, I wonder if my teachers and parents ever realized that I wasn't really a big baby when I cried so much. I honestly just felt that much. There was so much more going on in my head than I could have possibly explained. All at once I was an old soul and an eternal child. I think this is why I shelter my girls. They've never seen Old Yeller. Forget the damn Red Balloon. We treaded so lightly through The Velveteen Rabbit. I read Bridge to Teribithia to Caroline before she saw the movie. Of course I choked up at the end and she had to finish it herself.

I wonder if I am doing them a disservice. It's ok to feel sad, scared, angry. I cried my eyes out at When Did You Last See Your Father on Sat. night. Rob just walked through the room, patted my head and asked "Sad movie? Good sad?" I nodded yes to both.

I think my empathy helps me. I have it under control (usually). It is quite an asset on my job. Somedays I feel like the leader of the land of the lost. I understand those quirky kids. I accept them and then give them the tools to camouflage with the rest of the world. I wish someone had given me that sooner.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let It Be

We had the most wonderful time with our friends last night. A couple we know from college came over with their three girls (6,3,1) for dinner and cookie decorating. It was the perfect start to my holiday off. They are just as laid back and goofy as us. While the little girls ran around in various states of undress and dress up, we had a chance to talk. At first it was all about kid concerns and work frustrations, but Rob put on music from our glory days and we became the people we used to be (and still are, but forget). It's been awhile since I've laughed just for fun, not as a way to deal with a disaster or stress. We decided to let the kids play while we sat down to eat first. What a refreshing treat! I ate without fetching drinks, more food or any arguing. We felt like grown ups!

I have been so stressed lately. The word Rob used today is "bitter." It feels like there's been this dam of frustration. I have finally started talking about how unhappy I am with work and other aspects of life, but now I can't stop it. This is the down side of "Pollyanna syndrome." When I blow, I blow big. Luckily, I have two weeks off. I took a very long solo walk today, as a way to combat the fact that I have been living on cookies and as a stress reliever. I need to do this everyday! For the next two weeks, I might actually have time.

Tomorrow, I will take the girls to buy little gifts for family. Hopefully, I can do this without Lily wanting the world. I also promised we'd bake cookies and deliver them to our neighbors. Lily is obsessed with the book You Can Do It, Sam. It's a very sweet book about a little bear and his mommy who wake up early and deliver cakes to the neighbors. We'll see how our delivery goes. We live in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Neighbors don't just walk up to houses with cookies. The worst that could happen is they look at us in bewilderment and throw the cookies away after they shut the door. I wish we didn't live in a time when we had to be so cautious and suspicious, but we do.

Quick, back to happy thoughts! I need to keep my mood up. I'm going to go get the Christmas cards ready. I was going to do it with the kids, but in the spirit of keeping my sanity, I'll let them watch a holiday movie and I'll go it alone:)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Making a list, checking it twice

Tis the season for lists. I am a compulsive list maker. I've been known to wake up in the middle of the night and write lists. I think part of it is my way of dealing with my LD issues. Part of it is my generation. Rob and I love top ten lists. Of course my lists aren't fun, just a monotonous pile of "gotta do" "didn't get done."

I am already feeling behind. Christmas cards aren't ready (I actually swore when I opened the mailbox and found cards the first week of Dec. What is my damage?), I never started the ornaments that I sincerely want to make for the school staff, my shopping isn't really even started, etc. Anyway, this lead me to make an emergency appointment with "Dr. Toys R Us." I know the school will be standing if I take one day off. My sanity is not so sturdy.

At least the tree is up. We staged our own reenactment of the Nutcracker on Sunday. Picture Clara as a 37 year old woman standing over a trunk in the garage ready to pulverize mice with an old paint stick. I believe in peace on Earth as long as the little buggers stay out of my garage. As it is I had to throw out all of my old toys that were in the trunk. It's hard to be sentimental about Happy Birthday Barbie when she is covered in mouse droppings.

I have held a few traditions sacred. We are still reading the holiday books and watching the specials. Oh what fun is to cuddle up and read! Yeah!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tis The Season

I just updated my lists and am now in a more holiday mood. I do love this holiday. With 24 hour Christmas tunes on the radio and Christmas specials on every night, it is like someone looked into my childhood dreams. I can't wait until we put up the tree this weekend. I'm going to put my school bag away, put the kids to bed, and start making my ornaments for the year. I wonder which movie I'll find tonight?

Over the River and Through the Woods....

Well, I survived the trip to Indianapolis to visit Rob's family. He planned such a nice time: turkey dinner at an inn, basket ball game, nice family friendly hotel with a pool, treadmill (I used it once!), room for cards and puzzles for Lily. The poor guy had a raging head cold the entire time, but was so calm. He thinks the combo of extreme snot and cold medicine made him mellower. I have to agree.

I took up his slack, though. The kids managed to break the DVD player on the way there and spent much of the very looong drive trying to annoy the hell out of each other. They really only succeeded in annoying me. I love those moments when I manage to simultaneously say and do the exact opposite of what good parents should.

It's not much better now that I'm back. The stress of my job is really getting to me. I love the my students (even the turkey who hit me today), but the politics and paper work and meetings, that's another story.

I love this time of year and was really looking forward to being able to do it right this time. I am out of my five year cloud of grief and want to enjoy this Christmas. We will have a fun Christmas, dammit! I should cross stitch that on a pillow. What an attitude to have.

Just for my father in law:

I know my father in law is waiting for my latest post and is reading this wondering if I've lost my mind. Just for him I will now list my latest favorite Lily stories:

When we crossed the Licking River, she asked if it had tongues in it.

Last night I joked that her tushy was so cute, I could bite it. She looked at me in horror and said, But Mom, it has poop in it.

When Rob called someone a pinecone (they were) she asked if he could choose a better word.

She loved the hotel and asked how long we would live there.

When we were almost out of gas, both of my charming daughters volunteered to offer us some of their gas. Why do long car trip bring out their love of potty humor?

I'm sure when I lay down tonight, I'll remember more stories.