Thursday, November 28, 2013

The holiday celebration blog

I realize that many of the few posts I've written this year were recorded on holidays, my attempt to capture the importance of these ceremonial days and communicating to the world that we participate in the same world you do, even if we aren't there in person.
Today is, of course, American Thanksgiving, and in time-honored tradition, I stayed up late making "lesson plans" for the activity I would do in Blake's class.  It's a strange thing, celebrating a holiday not in the same location as your fellow countrywomen and men, in particular around the fact that no American children actually probably have school on Thanksgiving - that's the day they're getting to sleep in and have fun with far-flung cousins or friends while the parents drink too much wine and fall asleep in front of the Cowboys game.  We, on the other hand, well, we have to go to work, and school, and face questions about Thanksgiving being more important than Christmas, and do you give presents, etc.  Which are fine, and all, but it's not the same.
I was also doing some late-night baking to get a jump on the chores of the day, so by the time I turned in, it was really late, or really early, depending on how you choose to look at it.  It certainly felt late.  This morning was the cacophony of chaos that is characteristic of most of our mornings at the moment: protests about not wanting to go to nursery, not wanting to get dressed, not wanting to get up - sometimes even in that order!  It is very, very, very wearing on a poor sleep-deprived mama.

So while Noah should have gone to nursery so that I could concentrate fully on explaining the meaning of Thanksgiving to thirty 5-year-old's, as it was I told him he could be my "assistant" and the three of us headed up the hill to school.  About two minutes after we left the house, I realized I hadn't brushed my teeth.  That's what kind of a morning it was.  Fortunately my friend Jenny had some gum and saved me from hopefully being known as "Blake's Mom with the Bad Breath".
The kids were sweet and it was nice to be in their classroom and see them interacting.  They made some really fantastic turkey handprints and it was a joy to see their creativity, dedication to the task, cooperation, and general good-naturedness.  They're a cute bunch and I think they enjoyed my visit.  Noah was remarkably also well-behaved so I was super grateful that he got to participate.  I think he was proud of his getting to be there.
After an hour with the kids, Noah and I got to go off and get ready for the rest of the day, but we stopped first at a cafe for some QT.  He's going through a spell which is really difficult to understand, and he certainly can't explain it in much other than growls, snarls, fists, and tears.  In the little cafe, though, over his hot chocolate and my latte, things felt peaceful.  And that was a nice respite.

Then back out into the world of activity - to the butcher to pick up the turkey and the rest of the food, back home to start getting it all into the oven.  Before we knew it Blake was home from school, and then Matt got back from his business trip just after 6.  We got to Skype with Granny and Grandpa which was very nice and everyone is counting the days til they come for Christmas.  Bishy arrived around 6:30 and is going to stay the weekend, and after a pretty tasty meal (still can't get the timing right!), the rest of the house is asleep now - and I am very ready to crash myself.

If anything I think Thanksgiving Day is itself the gift - the chance for us all to take a moment to reflect on all that is good in our lives, and also remember those who are going through tough times, missing loved ones, or have less to be thankful for.  I feel I generally abide by a philosophy of gratitude, recognizing that there are so many things to be thankful for, mindful of, and attentive to [gack - scary sentence alert!  ending on all those hanging prepositions!].  I have been lucky to have the best parents ever who have always supported my choices and been great cheerleaders and friends, and I couldn't imagine life without Matt and the boys.  Not to mention the wonderful friends, family members and colleagues who make life so rich.

If I don't fall asleep before my head hits the pillow, I'll say my thanks and feel grateful for this day.  I hope you've had a joyous day whether you celebrated Thanksgiving or not.  Let's hope I don't leave it tuntil Christmas to do another post...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The only times Noah is quiet these days...

Yesterday afternoon was a throwback to the days when the boys would have a nap on the sofa and when I might just close my eyes to join them.  The best word to describe Noah right now is "cheeky" - he is just really working out how far he can push the limits and is very interested in getting his own way.  Examples from last week include vehemently wanting ice cream for breakfast to the tune of a 20-minute tantrum, and wanting waffles for dinner.  Waffles for dinner sounds fine, actually, but it was the way in which he was asking for them that was excruciatingly painful.

Yesterday, however, after being a little rascal for most of the morning and early afternoon, he finally fell asleep on my lap.  I was grateful for the peace and quiet and for the chance to enjoy him without all his rebel yelling. 

Catching up

Lately I've been wishing I were one of those people who could just spend the evening watching a bit of tv before going to bed at a decent hour.  I'm sure I could do that if I tried, but it just seems so much easier to manage to stay up late pursuing all these other interests that ultimately leave me feeling rather cranky the next morning.  As my body and mind revolt at the sound of the alarm clock, I imagine what life would be like if I'd just watched Strictly Come Dancing or X Factor and gotten 10 hours sleep.  If you do that, let me know what it's like...

Last weekend I meant to write because I had a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head following a day at Mumsnet's annual Blogfest.  Alas, I came home after a busy day of networking, listening, and feeling a little bit embarrassed at my lack of research, ordered a burger for dinner, and went to sleep.  The next day, still no blog posts emerged.  For that I can entirely blame Twitter, a place where I don't very often go, and now I know why.  Many aspects of Blogfest were about how to get your blog more attention, through social media avenues like Twitter.  Twitter and I, well, I've just decided we're incompatible.  It's like the time-sucking effect of Jewelbox, but without any prizes, rewards, or next level.  Actually, that could be quite a good app (someone's probably done it): a screen that appears after you close your Twitter app that would say, "Congratulations, you just spent 27 minutes scrolling!  Would you like to open Twitter again and see how many tweets have appeared in the time since you closed?  Because there are probably a lot, and I bet you could spend another 33 minutes if you wanted to round out a full hour of your life lost!"

I'm probably being harsh, but that's kind of what it feels like to me.  Anyway, that's ok - I now know I'm ok with not being there.  We were nearly late to school on Monday morning because of my pre-shower technology time, which is obviously not really acceptable.  So I made a vow that I'm going to leave my phone nowhere near my bed overnight and not check anything - news, email, Facebook - until everyone is dressed and ready to go, and only then if there's time.  Matt's much more disciplined about this than I am, so he's kindly let me move the actual alarm clock (actual alarm clock, these things could be obsolete in like 10 years!) to my side of the bed.

One of the highlights of the day at Blogfest was a panel discussion on "Cracking yarns and tall tales: how to tell a better story".  One of the panellists was Lionel Shriver, most famous for We Need to Talk about Kevin.  I had read and enjoyed that book - enjoyed it for the literary force it was, not for the subject - but I hadn't really investigated her or her background.  When she started talking, though, I had a quick check online and discovered she's from Gastonia, just about half an hour from Hickory.  Who knew?!  [well, Wikipedia did, which is how I discovered this].  Everything she and the other panellists said was wonderful, including "If you don't love it, don't post it."  I'm afraid I'm sometimes guilty of not following that advice.  They mentioned that in writing, you really want to make sure your audience's time is worth spending on reading what you wrote.  As if I need more guilt without worrying about you, my dear reader, and whether you think a post is worth reading!  Just kidding, I want you to get to the end and think that it wasn't a waste of your time. 

But if you don't, there's always tv instead.  I hear it's a great way to spend an evening...!  :)