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November 2007
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January 2008

Clay came home from work and he and the boys bundled up and headed out into the snow for some sledding. On the way out the door, I noticed Max didn't have a hat on, a fact that seemed to startle him more than one would expect. I hauled him down the stairs to find a hat because most of the body's heat is lost, blah blah blah.

When I'd dug out an acceptable hat (not that one, it's tooo tiiiiiight, not that one, it's iiiiiitchyyyy), and managed to shove enough hair out of his eyes and slip the hat on in the split second before the hair returned to his eyes, Max turned to join the rest of the sledding crew. At the bottom of the stairs he paused and looked back at me with a shining face.

"I'm just so glad we're a full family now. All together, with a dad. It's just SO RIGHT now."

I watched them go, into the swiftly waning afternoon light. Geese flew overhead, honking to one another. Eddies of snow blew off the roof, as still more new snow sifted down from the sky.

It is. It is just so right.

Greetings from the snowy Rockies

See, now, I think I've been utterly patient and reasonable about this whole snow business this winter. Have you heard me complain? Have you heard a single whine from this corner? No. I have been practically English in the stiff-upper-lipped-ness of it all. And there's been a decent amount of snow this winter, too. Just a few weeks ago I was standing at the window, cup of tea in hand, gazing out at the endless white, white, white, feeling a tad forlorn, when it occurred to me, hey, you know what? You live in Colorado. It may be time to get over the fact that it's December...and snowing. Buck up, buttercup.

And I DID. I have borne the cold and the snow well, I think. But. Christmas morning we awoke to find that there was snow happening outside. I'd heard there might be a few inches on Christmas Day, so I wasn't shocked. However, I was expecting a few inches. One to three inches is lovely, nature's Christmas decoration. EIGHT inches, on the other hand, is a pain in the...


We did manage to fishtail our way to my parents' house for Christmas dinner, and home again that evening, stuffed with good food and arms full of excellent gifts, and the boys got to go outside and play in the foul stuff, so I suppose it was all ok in the end.

Digression: I was in an forgiving and accepting spirit because Clay and I totally WON at gift-giving, having scored the boys a Wii that they were ENTIRELY NOT EXPECTING. And although I am shamelessly displaying the smallness of my spirit, the Wii gift was made all that much sweeter by the fact that the boys have been bravely bucking up under the taunting of the neighbor boy. He was planning on getting one for Christmas, and took great pleasure in informing the boys that it was a FAMILY gift, and they couldn't touch it. They were so stalwart about the whole deal, so when Christmas dawned and THEY got one and HE didn't...well. Heh. Happier about that than I truly should be.

Plus, I am a bowling QUEEN. I am a bowling PHENOM. And Clay totally cheats at baseball, although I can't figure out how. End digression.

So, the next day dawned sunny and bright (if not warm), affording an opportunity for the hardier among us to go outside and shovel. Tra la. See how well I bear up? That night Clay commented in an off-hand, casual manner, "Hey, I hear it's supposed to snow tomorrow."

I may have glared. I may have refused to believe him. I may have explained to him, patiently, as one might to a small, errant child, that it could NOT snow, because WE were going to the library because I was out of reading material and had stupidly left three books Mom was lending me at her house. I may have refused to hear anymore of this foolish SNOW nonsense.

I may have been wrong.

So far today there have been...I dunno, three or four inches of snow. Possibly several feet. It's hard to tell. The spirit, she is broken. I will not get to the library today, being girlishly unwilling to drive in this stuff. Tre, right now, is out in the snow, playing. One of his gifts this Christmas, from my parents, was a gym membership. He went with Clay for his first workout yesterday, and has been full of manly bluster ever since.

"I'm a little sore, right here," he says, moving his shoulder, "because, you know, of the weights." I assume, then, that what he's doing out there, lying in the snow, is icing his muscles, not playing like a kid.

Inside, Raphael is wandering around, periodically breaking into song. This is a new development, the singing, He's found his voice...or more accurately, he's found the sweet falsetto of some rosy-cheeked, innocent boys' choir member. Every so often, he will burst into an angelic rendition of "Away In a Manger," sounding for all the world like someone with The Real Meaning of Christmas in his heart.

It makes his brothers insane.

"STOP THAT, " snarls Max, who knows counterfeit sweetness when it pierces his eardrum. "STOP SINGING LIKE THAT."

I have forbidden them to quash his singing, because that seem just WRONG, somehow. It bursts forth from his little SOUL. Although, I have to say, when he is holding forth, vocalizing at the top of his lungs the theme from Star Wars, and standing behind my left shoulder, doing permanent damage to my ears, the concept of soul-squashing doesn't sound all that bad.

Max got a pocket knife for Christmas, from Clay's parents. He is completely enthralled by the knife, and all the possible bad uses one could put such a device to. A lot of Max's conversation these days is about what would happen if...[insert phenomenally bad idea]...and then I sternly assure him that such action would cause him to lose his knife. Clay has told him about all the bad ideas HE had, as a boy with a pocket knife, as an instructive sort of thing. I like to imagine that there are a finite number of bad ideas in the world of pocket knives, and each one discussed and eliminated sort of...lessens the pool of bad options.

Then I see the gleam in Max's eye, and I suspect I was wrong.

On the whole, I would say, we have plenty to be grateful for this Christmas season, snow and singing and eyes gleaming with ideas aside.

Then again, perhaps because of the snow and the singing and the eyes that gleam.

Merry Christmas, all. (Hush, I am NOT late. Twelve days. Right up to January 6.)

Three Tre-isms to brighten your day

While working on his timeline of the Classical World (600 BC to 800 AD), Tre leaned back and said thoughtfully, "You know, if you don't space the words 'Han Dynasty' right, you end up with 'Handy Nasty'"

"Hey, Mom," he called from the kitchen, "see this cinnamon?" He held up a baggie I'd recently bought from the bulk section, "Why is it on the chopping block? It says right here it's ground cinnamon." And he tossed it to the floor.

I'd sent him off to put ointment on his dry, scaly lips. He'd protested, but relented when his protests caused his lip to crack and bleed. Lovely. A few minutes later he wandered back into the living room. I peered at his still-scaly lips and said in my best stern-mom tone, "Tre? Did you go put lip stuff on like I told you to?"

"YES." He was wounded - WOUNDED by my mistrust.

"Are you SURE?"


"On your actual LIPS?"


But...I AM a poor little bunny

I hab a cold. So does Tre.

Oh, how the snot does run.

Some of you, reading that, may be remembering the last cold that swept through our household, and be thinking, "Serves ya right."

To you I say, "Shut it. Poop head." and also, "Bring me some tissue."

I think this is an excellent opportunity for us all to remember that it's not all about WINNING, it's about who is going to rub my forehead and call me a poor little bunny.

Sympathy will be graciously accepted. Gloating will not.

Edited to add: just now Clay was rubbing my forehead and calling me a poor little bunny, as requested.

"You're so sweet and kind, when I was so OBNOXIOUS the last time you were sick," I sighed.

"Yes...well. You know what that means, don't you?" I knew it was coming, but I gave him quizzical eyebrows anyhow.

"I win! I win! I WIN I WIN I WIN!"

And he does. With valor.

Can't banish the chill

There's a cold front moving in, and this morning's warmth has been draining away all afternoon. As the sun slips below the horizon, the sky is steely gray, and I can't banish the chill in my hands no matter how many cups of tea I drink.

I grabbed the phone to call a friend, and realized I don't remember her number. I have her number "memorized" in the loosely recalled manner of caller ID. I recognize it, I remember most of it, and I expect to find in in my call log.

However, as I hold the phone, I realize that her number's not in my call log. She's one of a group I've lost contact with recently. It's been a while, you'd think I'd stop being surprised.

This group was there, was always there, and I assumed they'd alway be. No fault, no foul, lives took different directions. On my best days I'm grateful for the time we shared. On my worst days I'm thirteen years old and the only one who didn't get invited to the party.

I turn the phone over and over in my hand. Cold plastic in cold fingers. I'm fighting with myself to make this one of my best days.

Outside, even the gray has slipped from the sky, and everything is black except the cool yellow glow of a street light.

I set the phone back down, quietly as I can, and go make myself another cup of tea. 

Growling pains

“Hey, Mom, come look at this,” Tre called. He was working on the computer, doing his keyboarding homework from Monday school. He’s been working hard, and has learned all the letters except Z. I stood behind him, watching him carefully type out a line. I would estimate he’s up to a good ten to twelve words per minute.

“You really are getting better,” I told him. My hands rested lightly on his shoulders, and even though there is little in this world more boring than watching words like, “Mike and Ann were in the store by ten,” slowly scroll across the screen, I stood there. There is less and less he wants to show me in this twelve year old era and so I stood, admiring his typing skills, wondering what happened to the days that always ended with him on my lap, his head tucked right under my chin.

Somehow we have gotten out of sync, this firstborn boy of mine and I. I tend to blame this on him, on his ADOLESCENTNESS that is unrelenting. The things he can argue with me about…the things he HAS to argue with me about…it’s unbelievable. At least to me. I’m used to him being Tre, the dependable one, the one who is ok, the easy one who wants us all to be happy. And these days? He’d much rather be right. Scratch that, he IS right, and he wants us all to know it in NO uncertain terms.

The thing is, our conflict is as much about my surprise at his attitude as it is about his attitude. I don’t understand it, I don’t know how to talk to him, and I want him to go back to being the kid I knew. I want him to just LISTEN to me, with the same basic assumption he used to have, that Mom probably knows. Instead we argue, each bewildered at the other’s refusal to understand. I am sometimes harsh and angry and walk away, hating my feebleness in this new land

I hear myself telling people, often, the story of when Tre turned two. How he stood up in his high chair one day, and when I told him to sit down, or I would take away his lunch, he glared at me and said in a fiercely piping little voice, “You will NOT.” And I was shocked and hurt and ha ha ha, because he was just turning two, like every perfect firstborn child has before him.

I laugh at myself now, but I can still feel the wrench there was, like a physical tearing in my chest, when I realize he was growing away from me.

I know it’s good, it’s normal and right that he detach in this way. He’s finding his own voice, spreading his wings, blah blah blah.

I looked at him, my fingertips on his shoulders. I studied the whorl of hair at the crown of his head, and remembered when it was drawn in the medium of misty fine baby hair. He painstakingly typed out a line, then two, and turned to grin at me.

“Not bad, huh?”

“Not bad at all. You’re doing just fine.”