"Don't you stay at home of evenings? Don't you love a cushioned seat in a corner, by the fireside, with your slippers on your feet?"
-Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oh Christmas Card, Oh Christmas Card

Oh Christmas cards. You are so complicated!!!

Argh!!! I love, love, love the idea of Christmas cards. Some years I send them. Mine always come ridiculous late. If you are watching the mail, just give up...go get your shopping done. I am so sorry and I truly vow to do better and get more proactive next year with planning. I aspire to be "those people." I have all these constraints though, see?

First, I have a compulsion about making sure that the photo we include looks wintery....that means I want to wait until its cold outside. And then of course as soon as its cold outside I get ridiculously busy and so then the first chance I get its Thanksgiving. I almost always end up taking a shot right after Thanksgiving when we are out cutting our tree. This always seems like such a perfect idea but really its more like when The Grinch gets a "wonderful, awful idea..."
There are caveats:

  1. I always want people to look nice and people just want to tromp around outdoors and look scruffy.
  2. I sometimes make people take off their coats for the photo and its invariably friggin' cold this does not make for good facial expressions. 
  3. I am living on borrowed time trying to rev up enthusiasm for portraiture when the boys would all much rather be hacking away with the handsaw on our family tree. 
  4. One picture can never, never do it. "One more time for Mommy now!!! Cheese boys!!!" 
  5. It is at this point a very close shave to get the cards made, ordered and addressed in time...not to mention mailing them out! EEP! I'm The Duchess of Late...every Christmas.
What to do? Last year I told myself I would start fresh and live outside the box. I planned to skip Christmas cards and instead make and mail out Valentine cards. Seemed perfect. Turns out there was no world outside of that box. Heh. I procrastinated my ass right out of any yearly greeting at all. There was nada ever printed. I live in shame.

This year I couldn't get the boys to cooperate and although I got a nice shot of A and I, I had a zero luck with the boys. The shots are all like this: 

I am now planning to mail out paper cards....genuine, old fashioned paper cards that I bought in the grocery store in the buy-one-get-one-free rack. They will come in real envelopes and they will have holiday themed artwork on the covers. I will sign our names inside one just for you and if all the stars align....the pictures I took in the yard today after I finished raking with be tucked inside, a little momento of how insane cards and photos and holidays really are. The next time you are having your portraits taken...think of me, I can promise it will elicit jolly expressions.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Leaning into December

Feeling restful about this season. December is here and we are gearing up for Christmas, winter, cold, internal times. I have good books lined up on my nightstand (parenting, in-law relationships, fantasy stories, travel guides!!!), a good stock of Earl Grey and a long list of small renovation tasks on the house. I'm all for the chilly months. Lets bring it!

Ru is getting to be a smooth reader which is pretty exciting. I sometimes worried it would never happen. Teaching kids to read reminds me so much potty training. Its partly about them and partly about training yourself and it takes so much faith in your kid and eventuality and so much letting go and taking yourself less seriously. Dee is partway through reading instruction and even Nib is beginning. Little steps.

A and I are continuing to work on our marriage in little steps too. Building trust together has been one of our recent big jobs. I highly recommend the eminent John Gottman's book, The Science of Trust.  I am ridiculously grateful for the tips in that book. We got into a real tailspin in our connection and life together. Its amazing how easy it is once you have a few bad patterns, to pattern your way right into completely hopeless and even emotionally dangerous place. Isn't it wonderful though, to know that people change, that we are the masters of our own choices and that we can make what we like of our lives???? I can't tell you how much I adore being a grown-up. Gottman is a great resource....maybe the most helpful information for A, I felt like I could breathe again after I read Brene Brown's, Daring Greatly and it helped me learn to how to be assertive and yet truly kind...both things I desperately needed. If you have a tough or impossible relationship where you feel stuck...keep trying shit.

 Seriously. It's worth it. You don't have to hate your mom or stop speaking to your next door neighbor or give up on your son, relationships are repairable, human connection skills are learnable and you can learn how to be a better you. I feel like an infomercial. Ha! Whatever. Trust is my new favorite. I know how to make it now and earn it and it's like totally fulfilling super-glue. I love it when I learn new things that I never, ever thought I could hack. Hear me roar!!!!

Marriage and parenthood both have made me ugly cry more than anything in my life. Ever. They've been ridiculously hard for me. Seriously, though....they are also the things that have pushed my edge and helped me learn fantastic things and two of the places where I am most proud of myself. The things that are your most painful experiences are the things that can be your best teachers, if you're game. The key is not giving up, looking the things that terrify you in the eye, remembering the things that are working and trying hard to solve the problems...try ardently, unceasingly, and ever hopefully. We are all in this together. Some of us are writhing with agony over the hard stuff that is career, some of us are socially pained by our difficulty in friendships, and some of us are looking like crazy people because we can't figure out how to teach our kids to be gentle. This is real life. (<------ all="" and="" are="" botch-ups="" favorite="" hacking.="" keep="" my="" of="" overcomers.="" p="" saying="" sorry="" us="" we="">

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hydration and The Ice Age

The nice thing about chilly weather is that I stay hydrated. I am living off of a virtual deconstructed i.v. of hot beverages, rotating coffee and tea by turns...dreaming of a hot toddy tossed in for variation. Also, I keep up on my wash...there's no chore in the world that sounds better than folding clothes, fresh out of the dryer.

The poor chickens on the other hand and probly getting very sick of their breakfast time slipping further and further into the morning because the resident farmerette can't seem to get up the gumption to go tromping out through the frosted leaves and fill their water and feed. Brrrrr!!!! On the upside, I have a new coat (this is surprisingly encouraging for outdoor chores!) and on the downside, it is after all, only November.

A was talking to the boys the other day about the concept of an Ice Age and their eyes got pretty darn wide. They like chilly weather as much as any kid. Snow is twelve shades of fabulous and there's almost nothing better than dipping your mittens in mud puddles after you have scooped out the ice film on the top, as a stiff November gale whips down the driveway. All that aside, I think the idea of an entire era of frozen living with snow and ice that was higher and thicker and colder all the time put the fear of God into them. They keep checking with me from time to time now to see if an ice age is starting yet. I keep reassuring them that that's not how they arrive...and that this is just New England in late fall.....I think. Time for another mug of tea. 

We are off to Michigan to see my parents, a couple of my sisters and my much beloved grandma for Thanksgiving this weekend and even though travel is a hassle and family can be stressful...I'm really looking forward to it. Its so good to be with those you know and to settle in where you are well loved. It is also such a comfort to know that even if I do that ridiculous thing where I always choke at dinner--just for tradition, wear earrings that are utterly too large and glamorous for stacking wood, completely forget to be on time to anything or boss everyone around non-stop they all totally get me and while they might laugh at me outright or roll their eyes they laugh, nobody will be disowning me anytime soon. Its all  part of the great comedy that is family. I'm me and they all get it. I love it.

 I hope you all have a cozy start to the holiday season, and feel launched into familiar places of festive dreaming, warm knowing and brave new edges of growth.