Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Pictures

My kids, my baby in her Christmas dress and my son and nephew.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Buyer's Remorse

Tonite my daughter went to Build a Bear and spent way too much money--something she realized on the way home. She was there with her best friend and they were having a ball picking out all that trash but when the reality that all her Christmas money was gone hit her, she was in tears. I explained that much of it could be returned and so hopefully she learned a lesson at not too much cost.

While we were at the mall I treated myself to one of my yearly indulgences--a half-price box of Godiva chocolate. After Christmas the boxes with the Christmas ribbon are 50% off so if I'm in the store after Christmas, I buy a box and generally enjoy it very much. The ribbon doesn't matter to me. I enjoyed the candy tonite, but not near so much as I remember doing in the past. It was good, but it wasn't worth the money I paid (which was a lot less than the price of a B-A-B). Live and learn.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Feast of St. Stephen

I had the day off and decided to go to mass this morning. I love Christmas carols and figured that church is about the only place we'll hear them any more this year. As Father walked out of the sacristy, he was wearing red, and I remembered that today is the Feast of St. Stephen. Instead of a carol, we started with "Were You There?"--so much for a good time. Anyway I got to thinking about why the Church placed the feast of a martyr right after Christmas--can't we bask in the glow of the cute little baby? I guess not. Christianity, lived right, isn't a matter of enjoying what was but facing what is--and what is, often isn't friendly to Christians, at least those who take it seriously. On the other hand you can also say that because God was so generous to come to earth, to be born in a stable that stank, we call can have the crown that Stephen wears--the crown of those in heaven.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Perfect Timing?

My baby is my late life surprise gift from God. She showed up due to His planning, not ours. There are times I wonder what in the world He was thinking--its not easy having such a wide gap in the ages of your kids, having a toddler and a teenager; not to mention that all the moms at daycare are 15-20 years younger than I am. Today I found myself telling folks at our office party that having the baby has made dealing with my mom's death so much easier.

I remember four years ago this coming spring. I was kneeling in the daily mass chapel of a local parish praying/crying. I was having heart palipitations and my doctor had found a strange-looking cyst on my ovary. At the same time my mom was getting weaker and weaker and yet no one knew what was wrong. Fr. announced the opening hymn as "Be Not Afraid" and headed out. I don't remember if I managed to stand or not, but I know the tears flowed. I was afraid I had something really bad wrong with me and afraid I was losing my mom--and here we were singing "Be Not Afraid". A couple of months later they finally found out what was wrong with my mom, and that while treatments were available, the long-term prognosis wasn't good. A few months after that I found that I was pregnant.

Well, Mom had three more Christmases with us before her death last March. Two of them included my darling baby. Its not the way I would have planned it, but I'm glad He did. My husband wanted to stop at two kids; I always wanted another, but defered to him. By the time she showed up, I had kind of gotten babies out of my system--my kids were older, I was enjoying doing things like scouts and teaching CCD and enjoying not having to take the kids everywhere with me. I always got kind of a longing when people brought babies to the office to show off, but I knew that part of my life was done and had pretty much accepted that--to the point where I wasn't exactly thrilled when I found out I was pregnant. After a rather physically uncomfortable pregnancy I could truly say that I knew I didn't want to do that again. However, having that baby gave me a life to focus on, rather than an impending death.

This Christmas will be the first without Mom. The baby isn't quite old enough to know that Santa is coming, but she knows that what's in those packages is usually good. It will be fun to watch her open presents and love everything. That excitement just isn't there in older kids, even when they get what they want. I think having her there will help me concentrate more on the "magic" and less on the missing. God's timing is perfect.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Separation Anxiety

What I hate most about my kids getting older is the separation from me. Now, some of you know that I have worked since my kids were three months old, so you may wonder what the separation I'm complaining of is. Well, when they were in daycare I could pick up the phone at any time, call the daycare and ask how they were doing. I saw the sitter or primary teacher every morning and could tell her if they were having a bad time with something. I dropped off and picked up where they spent most of their day. When they started elementary school, I lost that ability. Now, phone calls to the teacher were returned, not taken, and often not until the end of the day. However, they just had a few teachers, teachers I was able to meet at open house and see on field trips or at school parties. Most of them came to know me by name, especially by the time my second child had them. Now the big kids are in two different schools; she is at a magnet middle school and he is at a Catholic high school. They each have a lot of teachers--teachers who are supposedly available via email or phone, but who experience has shown are somewhat less than quick to respond. I know part of growing up is moving away from your parents and out on your own, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Deck the Halls--and all that stuff

I open the magazine at the grocery store and see yet another beautifully decorated house, where the decorations on the tree coordinate, yet aren't a matched set from the box at K-Mart. I see collections of figurines that were collected over the years, yet seem to go together so well. I don't see spots on the carpet or chalk on the door. No homework lays covering the coffee table. Then I move on to the baking section where the cookies are works of art (and taste good too). There aren't any pictures of kids asking "what's in that?". Then I come home where, just like in the magazine, the tree doesn't drop needles (but only because, as much as I love real trees, something had to give, so the tree is artificial). The holiday figurines are arranged so as to have the breakable ones out of "TTR" (tippy-toe reach). The tree ornaments are a collection of whatever has struck my or the kids' fancy over the years, and no they don't match or even coordinate. Even though I cleaned the rug in the den last night, its still not REALLY clean. We cut out and decorate sugar cookies every year, and they look like the kids did them--even if I do. I make sure there are plenty of chocolate chip cookies and brownies to go with the fancier cookies, so my poor kids won't starve. I'll never win any contests for package wrapping. Oh well, I have some beautiful Christmas decorations and here is one I'll share with you:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

All I Want for Christmas Is.....

Well, I did want a digital camera, but I bought one of those. I want a new computer so I can get rid of the old big ugly one--but our "new" computer is new enough to do what I want done, so I'm not as excited about getting a new one as I am about getting rid of the old one--and my daughter recently said the school was giving them all laptops next semester, so there goes my need for the second working computer. Dh will get me a gift certificate and say "do you really want me buying your clothes???", and since the answer to that question is obvious, I'll take the gift certificate. The reason I'm pondering this question is that one of my bosses asked me for a list. Christmas is a big deal in my office and the attorneys usually get nice gifts for their staff. Most of my bosses are men, who are very practical about the process--they give me gift certs and I go have fun after Christmas. This boss is a woman and she wants to buy something. The trouble is that I'm not a "stuff" person. I don't collect anything. My spending weakness is books, but I like to pick my own. I dont' wear jewelry. Perfume gives me a headache. I don't like a lot of dust collectors in my house. I have plenty of kitchen toys. I'm not a music fan. What can I ask for? Maybe I'll go shop and see if anything strikes my fancy.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Who dey say gonna beat dem Saints? Who DAT!!!! For those of you not from New Orleans, that roughly translates into "Who do they say is going to beat those Saints? Who?" Last night the answer was most definitely not "The Cowboys". This town is going football crazy and it seems that everyone is in a good mood. We play the Redskins here next week and can clinch a playoff berth. It sure is nice for this town to have something to smile about.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Celebrate the Season?

My parish used to have several Nativity pageants each year. The preschoolers had one on Sunday morning, after the mass that took place at the same time as their classes. Now, due to lack of participation, the preschool classes are no more. The elementary religion program had one on their last class before Christmas, which was followed by a Christmas party. The program was a basic retelling of the story, accompanied by carols, with the addition of the Little Drummer Boy and, at the end, Santa entering and kneeling before the manger. There was one at the parish children's mass on Christmas Eve. Cookie Monster and Elmo puppets told the story while kids in costume came down the aisle to the sanctuary did the manger scene. I thought the puppets were a bit over the top, but the play itself was simple--the kids just walked down the aisle and took their places. Carols were sung. I'm sure the school kids did something, and finally, the teens did a Living Nativity on the front lawn of the church, right by a major street on either the Sunday before or Sunday after Christmas. This year, from what I understand, there will be only one--the teens are doing one on the Tuesday night after Christmas.

What has changed? In short, the pastor and the DRE. Our old DRE put a lot of work into those productions, as well as into similar productions at Easter. Our new DRE does not seem inclined to do so. However, the real reason is that our pastor has insisted that during Advent we celebrate Advent, not Christmas. I understand his point, but I'm afraid that what people are going to see is not that we celebrate Advent, but rather, that our parish doesn't celebrate Christmas--at least not with anything for the kids. By the time school and CCD resume after Christmas, the Christmas season will be over. The one Christmas party that most of these kids attended that focused on the reason for the season was cancelled because it happened during Advent.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Health Insurance Woes

What seems like not too many years ago, my firm had health insurance that would allow us to see any doctor any time. Then we moved to a PPO, but that was fine, since my doctors were on "the list" and as I sought new doctors, I used "the list" to pick them. A few years ago we switched insurance companies, and with that switch came a new list, which did not include the first doctor to get really good results with my son. Since he only sees the doctor a few times a year now, we just decided to go out of network. Today I discovered that we are changing, again--and the new list doesn't include the doctor that the kids and I see. What's more, it is an HMO where to get the best benefits, you not only have to see a doctor on the list, you have to have that doctor refer you to specialists. I'm not happy. I like our doctor--I like the way she deals with my kids, I like the fact that she doesn't keep us waiting, its very convenient that she is within walking distance and while there are other doctors in the office to cover for her if she is out, generally speaking when I call and want to see her that day, I can. Its not like my old ped.'s office where you ended up seeing someone different everytime you stepped in the door.

I really wish we could get health insurance out of the workplace. Because of the employer subsidy, there is nowhere I could get the health coverage the firm gives me for the price I pay there, but why should the mananging partners get to decide what kind of health insurance I have? Unfortunately, given the pre-existing conditions in my family, an individual policy would be prohibitively expensive, if I could get someone to cover the condition at all. I'n not a fan of big government, but the system we have now has way too many holes in it, and gives too much control to people other than those using the system.

Equal Time

Here ia a picture of my son--I wouldn't want to be accused of favoring the girls!

I Got a New Toy

Actually I got two new toys. I got a new digital camera, a Kodak C875, and I got DSL. The camera is great. I liked the Fuji FinePix I bought last year, except that the shutter lag was terrible, so that I had way too many pictures of the back of my toddler's head. I started reading reviews and wanted a camera with a short shutter lag. Of the cameras I could find information stating that they had short shutter lag, this was one of the few I could find (by the time you find the review, the camera has been replaced by an "improved" version--which may or may not be the same in the way you like). I really like it. Now that I have DLS uploading pictures is easier, so I'll show you my two girls.

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