Visions of serendipity on Christmas Day

The children spent the first hour of Christmas morning snuggled on Daddy’s lap, waking up and opening the stockings that Santa brought in the night.

We’re having a very very nice Christmas holiday in England. To give you an example, I have been dealing with severe jetlag, sporadic sleep, and I got ill with a stomach virus and have been unable to eat. And yet, with all this, I’ve still had a great time with Matt’s family.

As an adult, and particularly as a parent, the joy of Christmas changes from receiving presents to watching the joy of other people receive your presents, and in particular watching your children receive your presents.

So, as we bought the gifts for the children through the first part of December, I was getting more and more excited about watching the joy on the children’s faces come Christmas morning.  I thought this would be the high point of my Christmas.

I was wrong.

The highest point of my Christmas has been watching my husband come alive.  He has been away from England and his family for three Christmases in a row.  Last Christmas, the third Christmas away from home, he was very melancholy the whole holiday.  We both agreed then, even if he had to thumb down a plane on the runway, he had to go home for Christmas.

And, though I knew he would be happy coming home, I didn’t expect to see the light glow inside of him like it has this Christmas.  He has lit up like a Christmas tree.  This trip home has rejuvenated his… his… well… everything inside him and outside him and his children and wife near him.  He did really need to come home for Christmas.

Also, my in-laws bought me a wide-angle lens for my Nikon D70s!  So the joy of Christmas this year was about receiving gifts as well. 😉  Expect to see wide-angle pictures uploaded soon.  Matt and I have both been playing with the lens a lot.

And then, of course, watching the joy on my children’s faces, as well as the faces of all of Matt’s family.

It’s been a really nice holiday.

December 28th, 2007 | England, The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -

Jetlagged on Christmas Day


A heroic amount of clementines get eaten at the Woodings’ household
at Christmas time. Damian is carrying on the tradition.
22 December 2007

It is 4am local time (GMT), and I am wide awake.  I have been awake all night.  This is not a good thing.  My children will be getting up soon to open Christmas presents from Santa.  And then we are going to Great Grandma and Great Grandpa’s house for lunch.  Then back home to open the rest of the Christmas presents when Uncle Ben and Auntie Allison get here, followed by a large Christmas feast.

In other words, I have a very full social day ahead of me on no sleep.  I’m a shy, introverted nerd.  I need sleep to be “on form” during social events.  For extroverts, parties are food for the soul; for introverts, parties are work.  Don’t get me wrong, introverts enjoy parties, but we tend to be tense and nervous.  Lack of sleep just compounds the problem.

This is the first time I have been this badly jetlagged.  The jetlag is always a hassle, but I’ve never been awake at 4am before.

Oh well.  At least it’s Christmas.  Everyone should be in an extremely good mood and my lack of coherence or response may go unnoticed.

Merry Christmas. 🙂

December 24th, 2007 | England, General | No Comments -

England!


Daddy and Damian fell fast asleep on the couch
after the hard 24-hour journey to Lincoln, England.
22 December 2007

We had a grueling 24-hour journey which involved missed plane connections and missed trains, dealing with Delta Airlines (anyone who has flown Delta knows what I mean by “dealing with Delta” — this was not the first time we have missed our flight connection while flying Delta), dragging five bags of luggage and two sleeping children in strollers through the London Underground, waiting in a warm pub on a cold day at King’s Cross Station while Grandpa Damian sorted out new train tickets, and running — literally running — down platform three with five bags of luggage and two sleeping children in strollers to get a seat on the train (the train was fully booked and it was first come/first served; if you didn’t get a seat, you would have to wait for the next train).

But we are in England now and I’m finally not tense.  And it finally feels like Christmas.  Cold weather, lots of pressies under the tree, surrounded by family, grandparents doting on the grandchildren and planning a magical Christmas for everyone, loads of sweeties in the kitchen.  It definitely feels like Christmas.

Christmas in England with Matt’s family is always fun and warm.  It’s going to be a good Christmas. 🙂

December 23rd, 2007 | England | No Comments -

Reliable


Damian
18 December 2007

I’ve become a flake.  I hate being a flake.  I was a flake in my 20s.  I was the flighty sister that you could never rely upon.  I liked this persona and even fostered it.  It let me get out of a lot of responsibilities.

But then, in my 30s, I changed without planning it or even realizing it.  I became reliable.  If you needed something to get done in the family, it became known that you could leave it with me.  And it turned out, I liked being reliable.  I liked being the responsible one.

But now that I have two children, I have become the flake again, and I’m really not happy about it.  Emails go unanswered; promises remain undelivered; the house does not get cleaned before guests arrive.

I hate being a flake.  I hate it.  I’m just going to have to learn how to have two small children and not be a flake.  That takes work though, and I am still a bit lazy.  That never changed. 😉

December 18th, 2007 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -

To co-sleep or not to co-sleep


Sleeping family.
16 December 2007

Matt and I have been co-sleeping with our children for three years now, since Lily was born.  The whole family, all four of us, sleep together in a king-size bed.  I mostly get looks of disapproval when I explain that we co-sleep, and both my mom and Matt’s parents have encouraged us to move the children out of the bed.  If you decide to co-sleep, expect to constantly defend your decision.

I thought a fair number of people co-sleep with their children, but my playgroup did an internal sampling.  We have about fifteen families in the playgroup, and only two of the families co-sleep.  I really was surprised by this.  I realize that we are by no means a random sample; the playgroup is all caucasian, all of us are housewives with bachelor degrees, and all of us are married to degreed husbands who have manager-type positions.  Not a random sample at all.  But still, I would have expected more of us to co-sleep with our children.

Now after three years of co-sleeping with two small children, I have some advice to pass on.  There are many benefits to co-sleeping.  I’m not going to list them here; you can google it.  However, there are several drawbacks.  The one you will notice first is the lack of sleep.  More people in the bed means less room, and the children, especially babies, will wake you in the night.  But you don’t get sleep as a parent anyway, so that one is actually pretty insignificant.

There is one drawback that needs to be fully considered though:  you don’t snuggle with your spouse.  And I don’t mean wink-wink nudge-nudge “snuggle,” but as in hugging, talking, touching, holding, being with one another snuggling.  This hugging, talking, touching, holding, and being with one another is an essential ingredient to the bonding of two people.  When you remove that, there is stress — real dangerous stress.

Co-sleeping nurtures the children.  The children are surrounded by love and sleep in love.  But there is a sacrifice for this — the relationship between the parents is not nurtured.  The nurturing shifts to the children.  And though the children do need this abundant love to grow into stable, confident, independent adults, your marriage also needs love — or, like all things left in a desert, it will wither and decay.

Matt and I learned this the hard way.  I’m still a proponent of co-sleeping, but, if you do decide to co-sleep, make sure to find a way to nurture the physical connection with your spouse.  Holding and whispering and soft conversations in the night help create a strong marriage.  And a strong marriage is a strong family.

December 16th, 2007 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | 1 Comment -

The Holiday Rush


The kids ready to go Christmas shopping.
Lily is looking fabulous, as always, in her
new cowgirl boots and Christmas tights.
13 December 2007

We’re leaving in a week for England, and we have soooo much to do before we leave.  But isn’t Christmas like this every year: scrambling to get everything done?  One year, we decided to make homemade cookies for the neighbors.  Wow.  That was a lot of work.  But we felt like happy Christmas elves leaving cookies on everybody’s doorstep at dawn on Christmas.  That part was a lot of fun.

This year, we are trying to get our Christmas shopping done and the house clean before we leave for England.  I told my mom that there are two empty beds and two empty cars here if she needed them.  So some people are staying at our house for a few days over the Christmas holiday as loads of people come into town, and they are figuring out beds for everyone.  That means, we have to clean our house before we leave.  But, on the upside, it will be clean when we get back, and it’s always nice to come home to a clean house after a long journey.

Matt did the Christmas present shopping this year, and he got through the majority of the list in just a few hours!  I said, “You’re doing the Christmas shopping every year!”  We have about four more presents to get, and then we’re done.

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas. 🙂

December 14th, 2007 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -

Duty Calls

I don’t usually write political blog entries, but every now and then, I get a real sense of civic duty — a strong feeling that I must attend and participate in an event in order to consider myself a responsible American.  When I read about the Hutto Residential Facility and the candlelight vigil being held to protest, I got that feeling again.

Since I’m actually slightly apathetic and lazy by nature, you’d think I would ignore these internal summonings.  But they are always too strong and persistent.  So off I go to be counted, dragging my family with me. 🙂

Here is the link to the video describing the Hutto facility.

And here is the link describing the vigil protesting the facility.

I have small children, so I don’t think I will go for the entire event.  Our family’s presence there serves two purposes: 1) to be counted, especially if any media show up; and 2) so the families inside the facility can see and hear us.  I’m trying to figure out what part we need to be there for in order for those two things to be accomplished.

When I called Matt and told him that I wanted to go on this protest, he said, “You are your mother’s daughter and your grandmother’s granddaughter.”  I said, “I know!  I thought of that too!”  I remember going with Mom in the ’70s when she would protest when were kids.  We would play around on the grass while all the adults protested.  And my grandmother, who is 79-years-old, still attends protests and is politically active.

I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. 🙂

December 11th, 2007 | General | No Comments -

An amazing weekend, and it’s only Saturday afternoon

Our whole family has had such a great weekend, and it’s not even half over yet.  Our weekend started yesterday, Friday, at 5pm.  Carla and Deb took the kids for the whole night while Matt and I went out for the annual HotSchedules Christmas party.  I love all the HotSchedules parties because they are always full of hugs, food, amazing people, and funny stories.  So we had a whole evening full of hugs, food, amazing people, and funny stories.  And we stayed the night in a hotel… without children.  It was very romantic.

And when we got home this morning at 9am, Deb and her crew were here.  It was Deb, Lins, Kels, Justin, Sean, and Sophia.  Logan had stayed the night as well.  We made a big breakfast, and Carla and Clara joined us.  And we had a fun, happy day with our family.  Some family pictures:


Justy with the magic touch putting baby Clara down for a nap.
08 December 2007


Lily and Sophia drawing together.
08 December 2007


Sean holding the top part of the fountain so Damian can’t knock it over.
08 December 2007


Sean, Carla, Justin, and Damian on the back porch.
(Baby Clara is there too, asleep in Justin’s lap.
You can see her little foot.)
08 December 2007


Kelsey with her new black-brown hair color
which I think looks really good on her.
08 December 2007


I couldn’t decide which Kelsey expression I liked better,
so I posted both of them.
08 December 2007


More of Sean, Justy, and the kids.
08 December 2007


All of the wonderful, amazing, perfect cousins.
08 December 2007

We’ve had a wonderful wonderful weekend.  Really wonderful.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we met A.J. Vallejo last night.  I told Matt that Vallejo is a part of Austin culture, like Leslie or Magnolia Cafe.

Matt really is becoming an Austinite. 🙂

December 8th, 2007 | Austin, General | No Comments -

Lazy is easy but it’s not very gratifying


Lani in the back garden.
30 November 2007

I think I use the excuse of “lack of time” as a procrastination tool. I am a master procrastinator.  I have evolved the skill of procrastination into an art form.  I should be studied.

What if I didn’t let “lack of time” be an option?  I don’t know if that is even in my personality mix.  I’m not a “do or die” kind of person; I’m more like a “whatever” person.

But I do want to sew.  And I do want to write and podcast.  And my current personality flaws really are getting in the way of that dream.

I hate changing my habits.  It’s such a pain in the ass… I mean, it takes real effort — focused, persistent effort — to change yourself and your habits.  But, of course, the flip side of that is to just remain unhappy, and that certainly is more of a pain in the ass. 😉

Surely I can put forth a little focused, persistent effort for the sake of my dreams… surely…

December 6th, 2007 | General | No Comments -

The balancing act of love


Daddy and Lily eating banana bread and watching Totoro
01 December 2007

I’m looking for time.  I’m looking for precious nuggets of time — trying to mine them from my scheduled day of childcare and house cleaning.  And with these mined treasures, I want to create.  I want to sew and write and podcast.

As a parent of preschool children, time becomes precious because it has become so scarce — the whole supply and demand concept working within a family unit.  You have to search not only for time for yourself, but time to be with your spouse as well.  You feel like a supporting character in the cast of your own life.

Matt and I have decided to go out on a date once a month.  We had so much fun being out with each other the other night — and it revitalized our marriage which revitalizes our family — so we want to have regular dates, to connect as two adults in love.

It’s a weird and difficult balancing act as a parent.  You have to nurture the children, yourself, and your relationship with your spouse.  I’ve been a parent for three years now and I’m still figuring it out… and I’m still trying to find the time to fit it all in.

December 4th, 2007 | The Life of a Suburban Mommy | No Comments -