Month: November 2010

Conversation in the car on the way home from school

My two youngest kids are discussing Santa as I drive them home from school. At ages 9 and 7 neither of them are true Santa believers, but they happily discuss the logistics of Santa with the same enthusiasm with which they discuss imagined battles between Daleks and Cybermen.
“There’s not just one Santa, you know.” Gleek says confidently.
“Yeah. There’s lots.” Patch agrees.
“Thousands. One for each house so that everyone gets presents.”
Patch nods.
“And they use lights on Christmas trees as teleportation devices.”
“There’s only a problem if one of them dies.” Patch adds.
“No. Then the others would just take care of that house.” Gleek scowls at her brother.
“But if lots of them died then there would be trouble.” Patch says trying to find the failure parameters of the mythos.
“Yeah, but that won’t happen because it is Christmas.” Then Gleek turns away, confident in the happy imagined world she has made.

There is silence for a minute and then Gleek turns to me.
“Could we make grape flavored roofs?”
“I don’t think so. They would be kind of sticky. Why would we want to do that?” I ask, confused by the sudden change of topic.
“If we could, then the icicles would be grape flavor. Only…” Gleek’s eyebrows crease together. “We’d have to build a glass shield so that the icicles didn’t get dirty.” She ponders this as we pull into the driveway. Then we got distracted by the process of bringing things into the house and finding the cat for after-school petting. We never did find a solution to the problem of grape icicles. Perhaps tomorrow.

A star for the tree

We used to have a star to go on top of our tree. We’ve actually had several over the years, but they broke. For the past couple of years we’ve been starless as I sporadically searched for a star that was elegant and durable. I was tired of Walmart stars which only lasted a year or two. The kids were happy with them, but I wasn’t. However I did not feel like buying a star was an important quest, we managed to have Christmas without it.

This evening we hauled out our Christmas tree and assembled it. I hadn’t really planned to tackle it today. I was content to wait until the kids felt like putting it up without my help, but we needed a family home evening activity and the project seemed tailor made. During the branch fluffing and assembly, Gleek commented about the lack of a star. I reminded her that we were currently starless. “I’ll make one!” she announced. Then she dashed off to the kitchen. The boys and I were too busy strewing lights on the tree to notice her absence much. She returned, triumphant with a star of colored crayon on copy paper. As soon as we had all the lights in place, I clipped up her star.

Considering the level of Nintendo love around here, I shouldn’t be surprised that her star looks like it is just waiting for Mario to ascend the tree and hold it up with a triumphant trill of music. I even like the fact that it is held in place by a couple of the document clips that I use when shipping books. I think it is one of the best stars we have ever had and seeing it smile down on us is going to make me happy all month long.

Contemplating the week to come

The week ahead of me is full. I have a couple dozen tasks and preparations to make for the church Christmas party on Saturday. Gleek has a big social studies report due by Thursday. Kiki has her regular round of homework plus a big term-end assignment to complete. Tuesday evening hosts a scout court of honor. On Wednesday I am triple booked for the same two hours. I still haven’t figured out the logistics of that one. I also expect the shipping and customer support to be heavy, which is good since the extra income will help cover the extra holiday expenses. Then I have the regular round of household stuff. It is the kind of week where we eat chicken nuggets, frozen burritos, and ramen since the kids can fix these for themselves.

To add to the excitement, I’m a little bit sick today. I’m sporting a light headache, mild head congestion, fatigue, and the occasional cough. I can’t tell if this is as bad as it will get, or if I’m perched on the precipice of true illness. I can’t afford to be sick this week. I have to keep track of too many things. So I’m staring down the illness, taking preventative measures, and making note of all my things to do so that if I have to hand them off, I can. One of the things which may not happen next week is blogging. I have to choose my expenditures of energy carefully.

Even with all of that, I am happier than I was this time last week. Having do-nothing-in-particular days has been incredibly helpful as a restorative for my inner balance. I look forward to the week after next when all of this week’s stuff will be done and I can find something approaching normal.

Christmastime, Thanksgiving, and smiling

The grocery store tells me that Christmas time is here. The piped music over head sings cheerful carols while garlands and tinsel adorn the walls and corners. My eyes slide off the decorations and I try to tune out the carols. Christmastime comes with a myriad of To Dos, the largest of which is the church Christmas party that I have to run one week from today. This next week will be swallowed whole by the needs of arranging an event for 200+ people. I’m not ready to manage all that yet. I’ll have to start thinking about it tomorrow at Church, but today I still have a little pocket of Thanksgiving in which nothing is required of me but gratitude.

Christmas leaks in of course. The kids have already begun mentioning things that they would like to receive. We’ve also begun the necessary shopping. Thoughts of party plans drift their way through my brain. Hopefully I’ve had enough rest so that I can dive in to next week.

Another thing happened at the grocery store. I smiled at a friend in passing. A scruffy, bearded man happened to be pushing his cart past me as I did. “You’ve got a great smile.” he said. I thanked him as I passed. I am not in the habit of chatting in the grocery store. It is an introverted time for me rather than a social time. But my smile lingered because of what that man said. He repeated it when we passed each other again in frozen foods. The smile felt good on my face and I tried to keep it for the rest of the trip. Consciously smiling is something I should do more often.

Thanksgiving at the Tayler House

This year we spent Thanksgiving with just our little family. It was a perfect respite for me. To make it even better, we removed all the stress from the cooking. Each person in the family picked one thing they wanted to have for Thanksgiving dinner. Each person was then responsible for preparing the food they picked. This meant that Link spent quite a lot of time yesterday creating a seven layer rainbow jello. Yesterday was also the day that Patch helped me bake pumpkin pies. Kiki feels strongly that Thanksgiving must have turkey, so she tackled that. Gleek was the queen of rolls. I did stuffing and Howard handled mashed potatoes and gravy. Over the space of two days I spent time with each of the kids individually preparing a food for everyone to share. This afternoon we all sat at the table and admired the fruits of our efforts. The kids each admired their own work and the work of their siblings. Then we ate. After dinner the kids helped clean up and we all sat down to watch UP, which is a perfect Thanksgiving movie. Sometimes the best stuff is the little stuff, which is why I’m so glad for this simple Thanksgiving day.

Doing lots of nothing

Last week I declared that the Thanksgiving break was a time when I planned nothing. For the next five days I have no required To Do list. And so far this morning…I’ve done exactly what I would have done if I’d given myself a To Do list for the day. The only difference is in my approach. Instead of thinking “What do I have to do next?” I’ve been thinking “What do I want to do right now?” The answer is the same, but how I feel about it is entirely different.

We’ll also be doing some less ordinary stuff. This afternoon I’m taking all the kids to go see Tangled. We’re also embarking into the realms of pre-feast cookery. Life is good, which is something of a startling discovery after this past weekend. It is also one of those smack-myself-in-the-head-because-it-is-so-obvious discoveries.


Everyone around here is talking about the blizzard. It is due at my house in the next two hours according to local weather services. They tell us so with exclamation points. These same news sources provide lists of schools and businesses who closed early so that everyone could be home before the storm. Local facebook statuses indicate that my neighbors have gathered their flashlights and blankets just in case. I look out my window at a golden sunset and no wind. Off to the North the sky is a little bit gray, but here things are calm.

In the midst of a storm there is something to do, actions to take, weather to watch. Before the storm, when you know a storm is coming, it is hard to judge whether precautions are wise or unnecessary. I stand at the window and part of me hopes that the storm is really impressive. I don’t want anyone hurt, or even inconvenienced, I just want the weather to be interesting rather than just cold and gray. We’ve barely begun with winter and I’m already tired of cold and gray.

I broke down this weekend. I’ve been trying to think up an appropriate metaphor for the experience, but I haven’t yet figured out whether it was more akin to a catastrophic flat followed by limping along on a spare tire or if I am more like the blender whose motor suddenly ground to a halt while exuding smoke. It felt like the second in the middle of it, and yet I am still here and I have accomplished things since. On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure it is over. I thought I worked through it on Saturday. Then again on Sunday. Yesterday was fine. This morning was most decidedly not fine at all. I’m forced to come to the conclusion that my emotional weather detection is poorly calibrated.

I don’t actually expect much from this snow storm. The wind will blow. The snow will fall. But everyone is prepared. They all went home early and found their blankets. Even those who lose power will be fine because they’ve formed plans. The killer storms are the ones that surprise people. I suspect this is why the weather service wielded those exclamation points. They want this storm to be anticlimactic, particularly on a day when people would usually begin their holiday travel. They wanted everyone to be complaining about how all the warning was for nothing instead of complaining because they were not warned.

My emotional breakdown this weekend completely ambushed me. Hindsight gives me many signs which I failed to interpret as an impending emotional storm. Now I am picking through my thoughts rather like a survivor picking through detritus after a tornado has blown through. I’m trying to figure out where it came from, whether it will be back, and how to prevent it all in the future. All of this logic is based on the assumption that I actually have control over my mental state, my faith in that premise is somewhat shaky right now. If I do have control over the causes, then I must figure it all out and take steps to avert future storms. If I don’t, then I just need to sweep up and move on. I’m currently leaning toward the sweep up and move on school of thought. This is in part because I think a major cause of the break down was me trying to plan, orchestrate, and control too many things over an extended period of time. It is nice when both schools of thought lead to the same place.

The wind has picked up outside the house. I think we will have snow soon. This means it is probably time for me to stop staring at this screen trying to wrap words around my experiences. I need to stop trying to analyze my life and go live it for awhile.


Howard called me on the phone.
“Hi hon!” I answered.
“You sound cheerful.”
“Why so surprised?” I asked upon hearing his tone of voice. Then in one of those thought cascades which take milliseconds to occur but much longer to describe, I tried to think of the last time I’d had a truly cheerful day. I rapidly came to the conclusion that Howard’s surprised tone was entirely merited and then pondered that this is somewhat sad. The train of thought leeched some of the unexplained cheerfulness from me even though I tried to retain it.

Cheerfulness occurs when my emotional stores are full and I have energy to spare. I’ve been spending a lot from both of those accounts lately. I need to remember how to make deposits and start doing it more regularly.

Subconscious trips

In the space between falling asleep last night and waking up this morning, I took a vacation to Italy. It was warm, filled with fascinating architecture, and the food was amazing. I don’t know why my subconscious chose Italy as a vacation place. I’ve never been there. I don’t know why it chose last night to dream a full length made-up vacation. I woke up feeling glad to be back home after a good trip.

This afternoon my subconscious took me on quite a different trip. It decided to be anxious and to spill that feeling throughout my body and brain. My logic centers scrambled to try to explain it, because my logic centers are quite convinced that things which can be explained can also be managed. The thing is that yesterday went seriously awry the minute the kids got home from school. I was completely unable to pull it back on course. I just had to shutdown and restart on the hope that the troubles would be gone the next day. My kids were going to come home from school again, and rather than sensibly waiting to see how it went, my subconscious decided to be anxious in advance. I didn’t get a whole lot of work done which gave my subconscious even more fodder for anxiety.

The actual arrival of my kids and ensuing homework events were not entirely happy, but I’ll take today over yesterday without hesitation.

So I hope that my subconscious has a nice trip planned for tonight’s dream. I think it owes me.

That kind of day

It is the kind of day when I wear my fuzzy florescent yellow socks out in public because it is the only way I can bear to brave the blowing rain/hail to get my errands done.

It is the kind of day when I close my eyes while listening to a teacher describe an incident at school. Then I inhale a random crumb so that I sound like I am crying when I am not. My supply of answers runs dry long before the phone call ends. It is replaced by a new repository of questions.

It is the kind of day where my daughter and I quarrel, not because anything is wrong between us, but because we each have a head full of gloom and they are crashing in to each other. Unfortunately the needs of the homework require me to wear my Meanie hat for a time because I understand that the best path for her to get to a better place is by going through all the things that she does not want to have to deal with. (Huh. As I type that it occurs to me that I should probably take my own advice.)

It is the kind of day when my daughter sits at the counter with her tutor doing two hours of Algebra homework even though she does not want to. She works through the cloud of gloom and I stay nearby, ready to triage the potential emotional catastrophe inherent in Algebra combined with teenage girl.

It is the kind of day where I click through my bookmark list multiple times hoping to find new happy things. Frequency of clicking leads to apparent decrease in new happy things.

It is the kind of day where I consider ranting on the internet, but don’t because I’m just temporarily grouchy and the words would stick around far longer than the emotion.

It is the kind of day when I look at my to do list and realize that despite my emotional experience of the day, I got a significant quantity of things done so that tomorrow does not have to be insane.