Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If life were vacation, it would go something like this . . .

During the year, when I'm at work, I like to moan and groan about how busy I am. Life would be very different, I say, if only I had more spare time.

Well, I'm on vacation this week. And I think I'm getting a taste of what would happen if I allowed myself to live a totally unstructured life:

1. I would watch a lot of Food Network.

2. I would go to the gym in the morning and then go home and crash into bed.

3. I would eat too much candy.

4. I would play Mario checkers with my son - and lose.

5. I would have long conversations with the dog, who would start to look slightly bored.

6. I would drink many different types of coffee.

7. I would hang out at the library with all the other cool people.

8. I would  talk a lot about how the house was really messy and how I should clean it up. And then I would watch Food Network.

9. I would write.

10. I wouldn't have any excuses not to do all the stuff I've been putting off ... and I'd watch more Food Network.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Injury causes Christmas slowdown - but it's not all bad

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm barely moving. Oh, it's not fatigue, although like most everyone else I know, I'm pretty beat.

I'm injured. I have no idea how it happened, but somehow I managed to pull, stretch or somehow mangle the band of muscles that surrounds the chest and upper back. I woke up the other day, somewhat alarmed at feeling pain in my chest, but soon realized that I could barely take a deep breath without my muscles screaming.

It's  frustrating, annoying - I feel like I've been in a fight. I've been walking in slow motion for the last few days, trying to avoid quick movements and sudden turns.

But I can honestly say I've found the silver lining that surrounds this cloud. I've had to slow down - I've had no choice but to step back from the holiday rush. To my surprise - and guilt - I've found this makes my children really happy. Oh, not the injury, of course -but the accessibility.

We've read Christmas books. We watched Christmas movies. My son showed off the videos he's been making; my daughter demonstrated all the airplanes she's created in her problem-solving class.

I'll likely be moving a little slower through Christmas. But maybe I was moving too fast to begin with.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Real Christmas magic and miracles come from families

I've been pretty cranky at work lately. Oh, it's nothing really, just lots of tension in the office - tight deadlines, lots of projects, fraying tempers.

The gray skies, bumper-to-bumper traffic and constant drizzling rain haven't been helping my mood much, either. But when I walk in the door of my house, that all changes. No, I don't have a fancy house - not at all. But I'll come in, crabby and bedraggled, and my husband will greet me like a princess; he'll have dinner already started and the dog walked and fed, to boot.

My kids will rush over to show me their school projects, not even noticing I look like something the cat dragged in. They'll chatter excitedly with each other and giggle and wrestle while I peel off my purse and my boots and my bookbag, and every time they laugh I'll feel my mood lighten.

By the time I walk upstairs to change my clothes I feel like an entirely different person.

I just finished a little Christmas book of short stories recently. It's called Magic, Miracles & Mistletoe. I started it on a whim, deciding for no good reason to start a project about holiday magic. The dedication was the last and easiest sentence I wrote:

"This novella is dedicated to my family: Without them, there'd be no magic at all."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Birthday party amid holiday rush takes premier planning skills

I have a friend who is a schoolteacher, and she carefully planned out her conception so her kids were born in the spring.

I've never been that much of a planner. That's why my husband and I are putting together a birthday party right after Thanksgiving and smack dab in the midst of the holiday rush.

Our little boy is turning 9. Wow! That doesn't sound very little anymore, does it? Ok ... I'll deal with that later. Right now, we're trying to order a cake, plan a party and find gifts - unavailable in stores, naturally - all while handling the usual holiday mayhem.

"What do you want this year?" I asked my boy, halfway hoping he'd say he was forfeiting his gifts and sending money to Hong Kong or someplace like those kids I see occasionally on the news. No such luck.

"A Wario plushie," he replied. "And a green Angry Bird."

Um, ok. Wario, I knew was a character from the Mario games. And Angry Birds, heck, that should be easy, right??  WRONG. The GREEN angry bird is so elusive I'm pretty sure it's only sold in some Angry Birds store in Hong Kong.

This is starting to remind me of the time my daughter wanted to be Lavagirl from "Sharkboy and Lavagirl" for Halloween and I had to come up with a costume. Not good.

But we're trying. I'm calling parents to make sure families will be in town on the weekend, ordering a cake from the bakery girl who hasn't heard of Mario and, oh yes, buying Christmas gifts on the side.

I should have planned ahead. Way ahead. Soooo ... you wouldn't happen to know the area code for Hong Kong, would you?