Friday, December 03, 2004

My snowglobe angel Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Don't buy me a snowglobe

I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis. We moved into my parent's house when I was in Kindergarten and they still live there. My mom didn't work until I was in high school. Our house was kept clean and we always ate dinner together at the table. I was raised right. So why can't I recreate some of this "normalcy" for my kids? My two beautiful babies ate dinner on the kitchen floor for the third night out of four this week. The other night they ate down in the basement family room on the floor and had a "picnic".

The reason my children are eating meals like zoo animals is because of Christmas. I have a true love-hate affair with this holiday. I love the presents, the music, the parties, the food, and the decorations. I hate shopping for the presents, preparing for the parties, getting fatter from all the food (along with the pressure to make festive cookies now that I have kids) and putting up all the decorations. I am a woman and a mother, therefore I am in charge of the decorations. Last Sunday I started decorating the outside of the house and came inside a few times to see that Chris had started pulling out all the knick knacks, candles and wreaths from the Christmas boxes. He unwrapped everything one by one with the kids and they had a ball discovering each new thing. Their absolute favorite item was a snowglobe with a snowman inside dressed in Packer garb. (I'm a Vikings fan and I'm sure someone gave this to us last year to spite me!) The main reason my children were so fascinated with this snowglobe was because it was squishy. It was not a fancy glass one, but rather made of some sort of plastic that made it utterly irresistable. My kids squeezed and squished that thing for over five minutes before Chris started bellowing the consequences that would occur if the snowman was let free from it's watery state. They moved on for an hour or so before returning to the decadent table of Christmas joy full of untouchable items. I was on the phone with my mother when all of a sudden I heard soft giggling in the dining room. I turned around to find Ella standing tall and proud with the snowglobe in her hands. A stream of water, similar in appearance to a drinking fountain, was pouring out of the globe onto my dining room table covered in aforementioned Christmas knick knackery. As Ella discovered that she could aim the water stream, she started moving around in a circle so that she could cover more ground, literally. I hung up on my mother and started yelling for her to throw it to me. This just caused both Harrison and Ella to laugh even harder . I tried to put my hand over it to no avail. The room was covered in about two cups of sparkly, snowglobe water.

I gave up at that point and decided to boycott Christmas decorating. I have not touched one single item on the table since Sunday. Nor has anyone else. Each night my kids eat on the floor, while Chris and I stand and eat at the counter, and no one mentions a thing - as if this is completely normal behavior.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

817 S. Quincy

I own a home in Salt Lake City, but have a second home in Green Bay, Wisconsin. If you are familiar with Green Bay, you will obviously know that it is not exactly the vacation spot of the world. It is not particularly warm, nor attractive. Green Bay sits on the Fox River which happens to be one of the most polluted sites in America. The economy has two main drivers - the paper industry (including the production of diapers!) and the Green Bay Packer Football Organization. I have a home there because it did not sell before I moved to Utah and has still not sold.

The house is a grand old Victorian circa 1895. It has about 3,000 square feet of finished space, three fireplaces, big rooms, gorgeous transom windows and a grand staircase with a five foot square leaded glass window overlooking it. It is a great house, but was a lot of work. My husband, Chris, and I worked our butts off to update and rejuvenate that house for four and a half years. We invested money, time and our souls into a house that no one seems to want. We have reduced the price several times, but still no one has even made an offer. It had been on the market for exactly 5 months and 3 weeks. Our contract with our realtor just expired last week so the sign came down.

Have you ever had to pay for two houses at once? It sucks. The winter season has started, so now we have TWO heat bills to pay. We also have TWO property tax bills and TWO mortgage payments. I'm completely feeling sorry for myself and just wanted to clarify that it is expensive to pay for two houses.

I firmly believe that things happen for a reason. I guess this belief is based on my religious background (no, I'm not Mormon) although my faith is truly being tested through this financial crisis. I am a materialistic person. I like to buy stuff. I can't right now and it's killing me. I don't need much, but I do like to be able to go to Target and buy things I want without worrying about the final cost. I like to be able to buy extra things at the grocery store, like Boca burgers, non-generic Tostitos, and Ben & Jerry's pints and not worry about the cost. Every day that my house in Green Bay doesn't sell, I feel more and more sorry for myself that I can't go buy a new black turtleneck sweater. It would help expand my wardrobe SO MUCH if I could just go buy a new black turtleneck sweater. So...what is the reason for all of this? Of course you know I've analyzed this to death.

Top 10 Reasons why Chris and Carol's house has not sold:

1. It's a lesson in humility.

2. It keeps us tied to Green Bay and our friends there.

3. It forces us to learn how to budget.

4. Harrison and Ella will be able to see their old house again when we go to visit over Christmas.

5. It gives my in-laws, who live about a mile from the house, something to worry about.

6. Our property taxes keep the vital Green Bay economy alive.

7. It gives the real estate agents in town something to talk about.

8. It keeps my mailbox in Utah full with promotional fliers and packages from Green Bay realtors who want to take over the listing now that it is off the market.

9. It gives me something to bitch about.

10. No one wants a gigantic, old, drafty house.

Now that I wrote down all of these reasons - I feel like I'm back to square one. There really is nothing to learn from this except to remind me daily that I made a terrible mistake. We bought a money pit. It's going to suck us dry and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it!

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Beauty of the Simple Things

I was never one of those parents who "fell in love" with my child the minute he was born. You know. You hear those birth stories through friends or relatives and they always end with "...and I instantly fell in love with him the minute he was in my arms." Blissful smile. I need more time for certain things and enjoying parenting is at the top of that list.

I had my first child at 36 and still didn't feel old enough to be a parent. It was an emergency ceasarian birth and for a number of reasons, including the fact that this was my very first stay in a hospital, I was shell shocked by the whole experience. Harrison came out with a bang and has been...well...somewhat difficult since. He was cranky as an infant. I won't say colicky, but definitely a tempermental guy. He hated those baby swings - even though I was assured that it would rock him to sleep. He didn't really dig naps nor bedtime. He didn't make breast feeding easy. Little things like that. It was hard. I don't think I had post-partum depression, but I do think that my ability to really, truly appreciate being a parent did not come until he was much older. In fact, I think it finally happened last weekend.

Saturday, Harry and I went to see The Polar Express. Just the two of us. This was Harrison's first visit to a movie theater. Trying to prepare him for this event, I walked him through what was going to happen. I emphasized the fun stuff - popcorn, large screen - while de-emphasizing the stuff I thought might bother him - the lights being turned off. We had a great time running through the outdoor mall that the theater was located in. Harrison was giddy. He told me, after rushing through crowds and lines of people to get to our theater, that movie houses reminded him of the airport. We sat down with our popcorn and water with fifteen minutes to spare. As the lights dimmed, and the movie started, Harrison stared at the screen intently. He would only pull his fingers out of his ears to grab some food or drink. He only talked to ask simple questions, such as, "Mama? Could you turn the movie down?"

As the magic, of being truly engulfed in a story, occurred for both of us, Harrison climbed on my lap and we held on. To each other and to the sweet story of Santa Claus.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Still Alive

I did it. I roasted a turkey. Ok...I put a turkey in the oven and watched it for hours and it came out done. Cooked. Roasted. Dry, but not a smidge of salmonella to be found.

Our friends came over with their two boys around 4:00pm. I had been standing since about 7:00am. I don't know how mothers and grandmothers have been doing this stuff forever! I was exhausted. And I wasn't even cooking everything. Beth brought a ton of food. Her husband even had to go home twice to bring back everything we needed. I still felt like a fairly good hostess. The table even had the "good" china on it. First time I've ever used it. God, I'm a dork!

The four children (all between the ages of 2 1/2 and almost 5) managed to throw more toys and make bigger messes than one might think are possible, BUT they had a blast.

I'm very curious, in a completely awestruck way, as to how people entertain for large numbers of people on a regular basis. How do they do it? Are they given special genes for this sort of thing? I was not and for the first time felt like my mother. I was nervous and tired and kept reassuring people that I was fine. As a child, I distinctly remember avoiding my mother whenever she was preparing for a dinner party. She would be a basketcase. I hope I wasn't that bad. But I probably was. I think the four screaming children and the intermittent crashing sounds really set the holiday mood. The really funny part was that the four adults tried everything in our power to use our manners, create polite conversation and ignore the noises from the basement.

Beth was amazing. Patient and true through the whole meal. Wielding super mom powers over all the children. Taking lovely photos of the kids table.

I'm thankful for friends, family and my new home - Utah.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Football and bird

Thanksgiving is a holiday of strict codes. One must eat turkey. One must watch football. One must be with family. My husband has two brothers in town who will be gone for the holiday. We are spending the day with friends who have two kids about the same age as mine. We already broke a rule.

This will be the VERY FIRST Thanksgiving dinner I have ever hosted. I'm scared to death. My friend, Beth, and I are having trouble deciding what to serve because we each have favorite dishes. (Notice that the guys are not involved with this - why is that?) We are serving about two hundred and thirty dishes to accomodate everyone's desires. The kids will not like any of it and we'll end up microwaving turkey franks about five minutes into the meal.

I love the holidays.

Trial by Fire

I am new to the West.

I have a new job that requires me to be technologically ept.

I am technologically inept. (I just got a cell phone for the first time this summer!)

I am surrounded by people with laptops on their kitchen counters who have their own web sites.

I am trying to figure this out so have decided to jump on the blog bandwagon.