What I Did on My Christmas Vacation

Now that I’m teaching again, I savor my vacations as much as I ever did.  I’ve had to cram everything I did as a stay-at-home-mama into two weeks.  Let me see if I can make a list of all that cramming.

1.  We slept late.  Late used to be 9:00, but now it’s 7:30 or 8:00.  I’ll take it.  It beats the heck out of 5:30 or 6:00 any day of the week.

2.  I ate an insane amount of junk.  The only thing different about doing this on vacation as opposed to doing it while working is that I can snack at any time while on vacation without hearing, “Ooooh!  Mrs. Tater!  Gimme some, pleeeeze!”

3.  I played about 6,000 rounds of Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.  It became somewhat of an addiction, and then it was just a love/hate thing.  I got to my high score somewhere around the 26th and couldn’t score higher to save my life.  Therefore, I had to keep playing just one more game.  It’s a sickness.

4.  I never figured out what the shapes on Bejeweled were worth or how the stupid game was best played.  I simply tried to get three of the same shapes in a row.

5.  I considered getting some help to kick the Bejeweled habit.  But then I remembered that our school’s server blocks Facebook, so once we get back to the old grind, it’s all over between Bejeweled and me.

6.  I drank untold amounts of diet coke and coffee.  But not together.  That would be caffeine overload, not to mention just plain gross.  Kind of like how Laverne mixed milk and Pepsi on Laverne & Shirley.

7.  I played with Tater Tot and Small Fry until we were all worn out.  Small Fry is thinking about crawling, by the way.  He’s not really, really close, but he gets kind of UPSET when he’s on the floor and a toy is out of reach.  You can tell that he’s thinking, “Okay, this rolling around to get somewhere is getting OLD.”

8.  Tater Tot and I took a nap or two together.  It may have been more like a dozen, but who’s counting?

9.  We took Small Fry to the doctor and found that he has RSV with a double ear infection.  We also learned that he will be fine and that he does not have pneumonia.  We were relieved.

10.  I cleaned the house.  Because, OH, MY WORD, IT NEEDED IT.  I do not want to end up on HGTV for having the messiest house in America.  I’m out of the running for this year’s winner/loser (What would one call the recipient of that title?) because I watched the show, Messiest House in America.

11.  Before starting to clean the house, I suggested to David that perhaps we should move instead.

12.  I tried to REALLY get serious about the potty training thing with Tater Tot.  He’s pretty good about the  “number one” part, but he is fighting us tooth-and-nail when it comes to the…er…sitting down-part.  Bribing with M&Ms doesn’t work.  Neither does bribing with a John Deere Buck that’s right there in the bathroom so he can see it and use it for motivation.  Your suggestions are VERY MUCH WELCOME!  His Mama is at the end of her rapidly fraying rope.

13.  David and I watched the British TV series, Robin Hood.  I cannot recommend it enough.  We’ve seen the first two seasons and are waiting until the 3rd season is available on DVD.  Oh, it is so well done!

14.  I read my favorite blogs (and there are a bunch of them) every day, which I enjoyed so much.  When I’m teaching, I usually get to them every few days if I’m lucky.  Reading them every day was a luxury.

15.  I watched tons of HGTV:  House Hunters, Sell This House, Designed to Sell, and Property Virgins.  I think this may have something to do with my suggestion in #11.

16.  I lived through about seven or 90 of Tater Tot’s temper tantrums. Those are  ALL  kinds of fun.  One of them happened in Walgreen’s at the front of the store.  I had already paid for my two items.  Finally, I had to carry Tater Tot out on one hip, Small Fry in his car seat on the other arm, plus my purse and plastic bag of formula and toothpaste.  When the nice clerk asked if I needed help, the next lady in line said, “She needs to control her kid and you need to do your job.”  (I’m choosing to believe that normally she’s a lovely person but she’d been shopping all morning and had stood in too many long lines.)

17.  I thought a lot about how very fortunate our family is.  Sometimes I was moved to tears.  Other times I simply smiled.  Each time I prayed a prayer of gratitude.

I hope your Christmas holidays were just what you had hoped for.  Mine have been slow-paced and not terribly exciting.  In a word, they’ve been perfect.

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The Greatest of These

The house is dark and quiet, and it’s way past time for me to be asleep and way too early for me to be awake.  Yet here I am, unable to drift off into a peaceful sleep.  Knowing how much I love my sleep, you can imagine how strange this is.  Please forgive me if I simply ramble on for a little while.  I have no idea where this is headed.

I am acutely aware of why I can’t sleep.  We’re still in the throes of the holidays; a time for families to be together.  And while our family is blessed to live close enough to be together for all the major holidays, the absence of my father still haunts me in moments like tonight when I am alone and quiet and still.

It’s not that the holidays are more difficult than any other time.  We don’t have any big Christmas traditions.  We don’t gather around the piano and sing carols.  We don’t sit with each other while someone reads the Christmas story or ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  No one dresses up like Santa.  There’s nothing big that I miss about Daddy around Christmas.

It’s the little things.

When I was in grade school and college, I went with him to deliver Christmas baskets put together by our church.  Riding with him on those cold Christmas Eve mornings were some of the best times we had together, including the time we got stuck on a dirt road and had to walk to the Thornton’s house and have their son pull us out with a tractor.  That’s right.  We walked.  In the cold.  Maybe as far as a mile or more.  Keep in mind this was in the dark ages of the ’80s when cell phones weren’t around.

Every Christmas morning, Daddy made sure Christmas music was playing in the background while we opened our presents.  I never really thought about it.  It was just there.  This year, my brother made sure it was playing.  I’m glad.

When we were little, we always left a note for Santa, and Santa never failed to write back.  I looked forward to the note he would leave just as much as the presents.  I wonder if he knew that.

There were always a couple of presents that were hard to open.  Daddy always, ALWAYS, had a small pocket knife handy just for that very reason.  (Not only was he in the military, he was a former Boy Scout and Boy Scout leader.  Prepared?  Yes.)

One Christmas when our niece, Caroline, was about four or five, David and I spent Christmas Eve night with his parents.  Caroline and her parents did, too.  Just before Caroline went to bed, Daddy called and pretended to be Santa.  I’ve never seen a child’s eyes get so big.  I’m sure Daddy’s eyes were equally as big, and it tickled him to do it.

This Christmas, like I wrote about earlier, was wonderful.  No one showed a smidge of sadness, because, as I’ve said before, Daddy would not have us waste a minute being sad when there is so much happiness and joy right in front of us.  We all missed him, though.  We knew that, had he been there, he would have had a grand time.

Because he loved us.  Without a doubt, he loved us with his whole heart.

Though my father is no longer here, and as hard as it is for me to be without him, his love was and is a gift that stays with me forever.

As I sit here tonight, thinking about my Daddy and all the memories I have and the gift of his unconditional love as a parent, I can’t help but be reminded of another magnificent gift that was given to all us so long ago by our Father who loves each one of us and calls us His own.

And now these three remain: hope, faith, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Thanks to my sweet Mama, I had some Christmas money just begging to be spent, so I slipped out Sunday afternoon while the little ones were sleeping and left them in the capable hands of their Daddy for a couple of hours.  I left detailed instructions about what should occur during the one or two hours that I might be gone, and those instructions were completely ignored.  Of course, I knew they would be tossed aside, but I felt better leaving them anyway.  Leaving the instructions has nothing to do with why I felt stupid.

I decided that I would do a little shoe shopping, so I shuffled up and down the aisles of DSW for a good 45 minutes.  I was determined to find at least one pair of shoes, by darn, because I had a $10 coupon, and I was not letting that thing go to waste.  Luckily, I found 2 pairs of shoes and some trouser socks, and all of them were on sale for an extra 30% off.  Those finds had nothing to do with why I felt stupid, either.

No, the reason I felt stupid is because after so much success at the shoe store, I decided to head on down to TJ Maxx and check out their selection of pants.  Every now and then — not often, but occasionally — I find something at a real bargain, and I just knew I was about to stumble upon the find of the year.  THE FIND OF THE YEAR, PEOPLE!

Have you ever gone shopping two days after Christmas?  That’s TWO DAYS after having eaten everything in sight?  Two days after two meals that, on any other day, are collectively packed with enough calories and fat to sink a small yacht?

The selection was surprisingly good, and I found lots of pants that I liked.  They were even in my regular size.  The problem was that I was not in my regular size.  I wrestled and tugged and jumped and sucked in and flung myself all over that dressing room, and I’m sure the ugly words in my head came right out of my mouth once or twice.  I know I should be sorry, but all bets are off in dressing rooms.

It finally occurred to me that I’d eaten the equivalent of Tater Tot’s weight over the last week or so, and the disaster that was the wide gap between the button and button-hole of ever pair of pants made much more sense.  Unlike the decision to go shopping for anything other than shoes, as I do not carry my weight in my feet.

Mama always says “Stupid is as stupid does.”

In an effort to make myself feel smarter, I bought a scarf (because one size fits all) and then drove through Sonic for a huge diet coke.

It Went With the Wind

Christmas Day is such a blur that it reminds me of the Carol Burnette Show skit, “Went With the Wind.”  Thank goodness for You Tube.  Here’s the skit if you want to watch it.  There are two clips, and they’re worth the time if you need a good laugh.

Went With the Wind Part 1

Went With the Wind Part 2

Okay, so I tried to include the actual clips from You Tube in the post, and I’ve completely forgotten how to do it.  I’ll do some digging and study up on it.

Anyway.  We had a wonderful Christmas.  I suppose it’s hard not to have a good one when there is a 3 1/2-year-old involved.  This was the first year we got to experience a day full of, “Whoa!  Look!  I love it!”  It didn’t matter what “it” was.  He loved it all, from the sock monkey (that was actually in Small Fry’s stocking) to the new train table to the castle to the fire house to Spike the Dinosaur, as long as Spike didn’t get too close.

Small Fry seemed to enjoy his first Christmas immensely.  He played his little bongo drums and whacked everything within reach with his little musical mallet.  His Uncle Jim gave him a little plush bowling set, and he immediately went for the little Tiger bowling pin.  He did his best to stay awake for everything even though he was as sleepy as he’s ever been, and he never fussed.  We finally put him in his car seat around 8:00 just to see if he’d fall asleep, and — um — yes, please.  He was out within about two minutes.

From the time Tater Tot woke up to the time we carried him to bed late Christmas night, our day was full.  We had somewhere to be for lunch and supper, but we weren’t rushed at all during the day.  Still, looking back on it, Christmas Day was over and done with before we could turn around.

I wonder if it will always be this way now that we have children.  Do children have anything to do with the day passing so quickly, or is it simply that I’m getting older?  Does anyone else feel as though your day “went with the wind?”

The Year that Santa Brought the Tree

I have a confession to make.

We did not decorate for Christmas this year.  We tend to have an all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to holiday decorating, and time just got away from us.  Forget about putting up three trees;  we didn’t even bother with one.  And that garland?  I didn’t even mention it to Tater Daddy.

To tell you the truth, we’ve been so busy this fall and early winter that the only thing I’ve really missed is the tree.  (Notice I used the singular form of the noun, because one tree suits me just fine.)  Tater Tot has missed it, too, and he’s said something about it several times.  Guilt got the better of his Daddy, and several nights ago he happened to stop by Walgreen’s.  The store had their Christmas trees on sale and he got a little artificial one, pre-lit and everything, for about $30.

We keep all of our Christmas decorations in a house on my mother’s farm, so we don’t have any ornaments here at our house.  Tater Daddy bought one box of 24 gold ornaments, and each of the boys had one he’d made at school.  Tater Tot made a Santa Claus face, and Small Fry made a handprint with white paint (or something like it).

Still, every night this week has been busy, busy, busy, and the tree didn’t go up.  We didn’t even tell Tater Tot about it because we didn’t want to disappoint him in the event that we weren’t able to put the little tree up.

Last night, we came home after spending the day with my mother and brother, then eating supper with our cousins.  I put the boys to bed (but not before Tater Tot made one last wish for a tree), and by 10:30, Tater Daddy and I still had about three hours worth of, er…, “jolly old elf” work to do.  When the hubs finally finished putting everything together and got things cleaned up, he headed to bed for what he wished could be a long winter’s nap.

I stayed up a little longer to finish wrapping a few presents, and it just didn’t seem right to have Christmas presents without a tree.

So when Tater Tot wakes up in a few hours, he’s going to find that Santa did, in fact, see that he’d been a good boy this year.  He’ll stumble upon a few things that he asked for and a couple of surprises, too.

He may even notice the scrawny little Christmas tree that wasn’t there when he went to bed the night before.

Pre-School Party Day

Tater Tot’s class Christmas party was last Wednesday, and my principal was nice enough to let me slip away from my homeroom for about 30 minutes to hang out and just be a mama for a little while.  One of the teachers on my grade level has a little girl in Tater Tot’s room, and we were giddy all morning long just thinking about going to their party.  Not only were we getting to spend time with our sweet babies, we were getting away from our big babies for half an hour.  I really don’t know which made us happier…

Anyway, we started out by being greeted in the hallway by our little ones, and let me tell you, nothing thrills my soul like hearing Tater Tot scream, “Mama!  You’re here!”  Of course, one day I’m sure I’ll hear those words with a totally different intonation, and he won’t be nearly as glad to see me.  Therefore, I think I’ll just savor the memories of the day our three-year-old took us by the hand and led us into his room, made a craft, showed us all of his most recent work, and shared his party treats with us.

Party on, folks.

How I Know that 40 Isn’t the New 30

As of a couple of weeks ago, I can no longer say I’m on the backside of 40.  Forty and I have caught up with each other.  You could say that we’re walking right beside one another.  What you can’t say, though, is that I like it enough to reach over and hold its hand.  I probably couldn’t find it without a map and a magnifying glass anyway.

Last night I made a fast run to Walgreen’s.  While I was there I decided to check their stock of Cover Girl lipstick in my current favorite shade.  After scrambling around in the abyss that is my purse, I found the tube I was looking for, turned it over, and realized that I couldn’t read the writing.  Granted, it was three times smaller than the writing on any of the other lipstick tubes in my purse.  I’m not sure that even Steve Austin could’ve read it with his bionic eyesight.

However, I’ve always taken great pride — yes, that’s right, PRIDE — in my eyesight.  Need something written in fine print read?  I was your girl.  Need to find something tiny that you’d dropped?  Let me take a shot.  Can’t tell what that sign far away on the interstate says?  Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch, Next Exit.

Ahhhhhh…such was life in my 30s.

Well, you know as well as I do that we can’t let pride get in the way of finding our lipstick, so I did the only thing I could do besides lie down and have a stinking pity party fit right there in the middle of the store.  (Don’t think for a minute that it didn’t cross my mind, though.)  I shuffled over to the (gulp) reading glasses stand and tried on a 1.00 strength pair, then looked at the tube of lipstick again.  I was half hoping everything would be blurry, but I don’t have that kind of luck.  There it was, as plain as the age on my birthday cake.  I could read the name and number of the lipstick.

I may as well admit defeat…and my age, neither of which I could have done when I was 30.

(But dadgummit, I could read tiny print without help!)

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