Merry Christmas to All!

Christmas with a 14-month old...

Means that the bottom third of your tree lacks ornaments.

Means that every time she passes by the front door, we have to open it to see the lights hanging from the porch.

Means that we don't know who gave what to whom, since the gift tags to most of presents under the tree are scattered throughout the house.

Means that the Christmas cards are also scattered throughout the house, which is actually kind of nice because I see the smiling faces of our friends' children in odd places throuhout the day. Under the kitchen table are Kyle, Lucas and Olivia, and on the stairs are Gavin and Grady. Lucy was spotted in the sofa cushions.

Means that taking the picture of a very wiggly little person for our own card took nearly two hours and almost resulted in divorce due to the different artistic visions held by the parents.

Means that if you listen carefully, you can hear Baby C sing "la la la" during Deck the Halls.

Means that I have an excuse for listening to John Denver and the Muppets (best Christmas CD EVER).

Means that squeals of excitement and delight ring out over the boxes and wrapping paper.

Means it's all wonder and none of the want... pure magic!

Merry Christmas.

Nota Bene

This is what I learned this past weekend.

When describing someone who plays devil's advocate, just for the sheer fun of being contrarian, one often says that such a person enjoys baiting another.

When describing someone who is an expert in the field, one often says that such a person is a master.

When describing a person expert at playing devil's advocate, however, one should probably not say that the person is a master baiter. Just sayin'.

Please Don't Squeeze

The hottest toy of the season? I'm looking at it. It doesn't tickle or giggle, but it is rather... absorbent. Move aside Elmo--you've met your match. 2008 shall heretofore be known as the Year of Cottonelle.

As in the toilet paper. Specifically, the jumbo-pack of 24 double rolls. Encased in plastic, the Cottonelle forms a cushy, crinkly block that, to watch Baby C, is pure joy to climb over, push, and bounce upon. I'm quite confident that her exuberance over the TP is unmatched (at least in the Western world); she puts those women in the Charmin commercial to shame.

You may want to stock up. If this catches on, crazed parents may start lining up at 4:00 a.m. so their child isn't disappointed on Christmas morning. There will be a rush on the product, perhaps a shortage. Consider yourself warned.

Sew Slow

Though I've been a mother for over a year, there are some basic realities that I apparently haven't yet realized. Free time, for example. I once spent it reading, catching up with friends, jogging, or various other recreational activities. Emptying the dishwasher wasn't on that list. It is now. My free time is when she sleeps, and I spend that time trying to clean the kitchen, do laundry, make meals, address Christmas cards, decorate the house, make shopping lists, take out the garbage, clean the cat litter, and other activities that make the hearts of stay-at-home mommies sing for joy.

So me thinking I had the time to make some little gifts for my nieces and nephew can only be attributed to being remedial at the whole realities of motherhood thing (not to mention remedial at the whole crafting thing). Those little gifts are the reason my house is in shambles and the laundry is piled up. As I stitch away in the ruins of my house, I realize that adding just one, tiny activity makes my whole day unravel. I should have started in July, in order to accommodate other activities I once considered non-negotiable, such as showering. Speaking of which, please excuse me. I’ve got to go brush my teeth.

Why there is (usually) a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas

One might think that at least one out of 13 adults attempting the feat would manage to shoot a picture of six children. But you would be wrong. Last Saturday, a scant two days after giving thanks en masse, we gathered at my inlaws' house for a Christmas kick-off party. The eight parents, two grandparents, one grand aunt, and a great aunt and uncle were handily outmaneuvered by the six cousins, four of whom are three and under.

Perhaps our timing wasn't right. Maybe trying to photograph small children after a long car trip, a round trip ferry ride to an island for a woodland hike, and a family dinner was overly ambitious?

Picture all 13 adults yelling conflicting instructions to the kids. Baby C has a few words, but I'm pretty sure the directive to "turn right and look up!" is beyond her at this point. She started wailing. On top of the stage directions, some people tried to entice the babies to look up by making animal noises and clapping. Some people decided that the three year old could be scolded into smiling. (A surprisingly ineffective tactic.)

We may not have gotten a decent picture, but I think we did manage to capture the sights and sounds of family holiday togetherness.