Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas

Our Christmas was wonderful. It's not over yet because my parents, brother and FSIL (future sister-in-law) are arriving tonight--weather permitting. It snowed almost all day yesterday and has been snowing almost all day today so we'll see. I hope they make it and don't have to spend the night somewhere in Podunk, Utah.

We had our candlelight service on Christmas Eve. I sung with the worship team and Troy, of course, preached a short sermon. That meant that, as always, Garrett would be in the child care room. The only problem was that he decided to have a major attitude. As I was warming up with the worship team, Troy set Garrett down in the back of the church for a couple of nanoseconds so that he could do something. Over all the instruments and the eight voices that accompanied them I heard my child screaming, "WANT DADDY NOW!!!" Repeatedly.

Charming. Once Troy put him in the nursery I guess that, after several minutes of screaming followed by a session of laying on the floor, my child snapped out of it and behaved normally for the rest of the evening.

After church we drove through the Sonic drive-thru because Troy and I hadn't eaten and it was 9:00 pm. Someone forgot to give this particular dining establishment the memo that it is, indeed, a fast food restaurant. We sat in the line for over twenty minutes and there were only two cars in front of us. Then we delivered a gift and headed home.

It's Doozleberry family tradition to open presents on Christmas Eve (and by Doozleberry I mean my husband's family...not me--I like the magic of Christmas morning). When we got home we opened presents from his family. Of course, Garrett loved them all and wanted to open the rest of the packages under the tree. We informed him that, being that it was nearly 11:00 and he goes to bed by 9:00 at the latest, he needed to head to bed and if he was a really good boy he could have more presents in the morning.

Morning came and we did stockings and Santa presents. Santa brought Garrett a green hat, per his request, and, of course, the drum set.

Me: Garrett what is that?
Garrett: A green shirt.
Me: What? No it isn't. Look closer.
Garrett: Green shirt.
Me: (pulling it out of the bag completely) Are you sure?
Garrett: A GREEN HAT!!!

He really, seriously, was excited about getting a green hat. What a weirdo.

But, of course, nothing was more exciting on Christmas morning than his very own drum set...

video

After the power came back on (Did I forget to mention that we were without power for a couple of hours in the morning? Praise God our gas fireplace had just been fixed because we would have been mighty cold enduring our snowstorm without heat.) we had eggs and bacon and potatoes and cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate and it was very yummy. Then we took showers and finally, at noon, we opened the rest of our presents. Troy and I love lazy Christmases. We vow never to turn our holiday into a rip and tear fest. We vow never to be one of those families that is finished with Christmas morning by 5:00 am. We vow to impart to our children the art of delaying gratification. I sincerely hope we can keep good on those vows.

Anyway, around noon we opened presents. Then Garrett napped and Troy shoveled the driveway. And shoveled the driveway. And shoveled the driveway. And why did we move to the snow, again? Ministry? Right. I sometimes forget. And then we went to a church family's house for dinner.

Before we tucked Garrett into bed we read him the Christmas story and explained (again) the real meaning of Christmas. Then Troy and I snuggled into the couch and watched a movie.

This morning I didn't hear my son get out of bed. But I heard the drum solo loud and clear.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Here is our annual Christmas letter. I changed personal information as well as the name and location of our adoption organization...


Dear Family and Friends,
We wish you a very Merry Christmas! May the true spirit of this blessed holiday be upon you. We are pleased to announce that we have survived our first year in Utah. For Lori and Garrett, it was also their first year experiencing four seasons. Though Lori enjoyed how beautiful the snow was last year, she’s not in a big hurry for it to cover the land once again. You can take the girl out of San Diego but you can’t take San Diego out of the girl.
Troy loves his Senior Pastor position at that one church. Our congregation is full of wonderful people and he loves guiding them. Troy serves as the leader of all aspects of the church’s functionality. He preaches on Sundays, works with the youth program, performs counseling, and oversees the individual ministries. In September, Troy planned a men’s retreat and enjoyed a weekend of playing paintball, eating too much food, and diving into the word of God with other men from our church. During his free time Troy can usually be found with a toddler glued to his hip. Troy adores being a father and, when he’s home, you can be sure that Garrett is his shadow.
Lori is enjoying her roles as pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom. She is directing the Children’s Christmas play, participating in women’s Bible study, and has even sung with the worship team a few times. In October, she helped plan a women’s retreat and served as one of the speakers during the weekend. She is adjusting to life without family nearby but realizes that unlimited long distance calling is a very, very good thing. She blogs several times a week (at http://www.familyfishbowl.blogspot.com/) in the hopes of keeping friends and family updated on life in Utah. She enjoys being home with Garrett and loves watching him transition from baby to little boy.
Speaking of Garrett, at two, he is all boy. He loves to jump in puddles, dig in the dirt and generally get filthy outside. He adores playing with anything resembling a ball, chasing bigger kids around the church and personifying the words rough and tumble. He has a deep love for music and we have an extremely difficult time keeping him away from the drum set at church. We hear that Santa is bringing him a set of toddler drums and we’re hoping that they’ll be a hit. His language exploded over the summer and it seems that he says several new words or sentences every day. While he definitely has his “terrible two” moments, he makes us laugh constantly and is an extremely sweet little boy. In January, he survived his first surgery, an umbilical hernia repair performed at Primary Children’s Medical Center at the University of Utah. He did extremely well and we were trying our best not to let him run around that very afternoon. He loved playing in the snow throughout the winter and swimming in his little plastic pool every day in the summer. He is certainly his mother’s pride and joy and the apple of his father’s eye.
We are in the process of adding to our family through adoption. We’re listed with a certain organization in a certain place. Please join us in praying for this very special addition to our family. We’ve tried to keep Garrett informed of our decision to adopt and when asked what he would like to name a future brother or sister, he gives us two choices: Tree Guy or Baby Boy. So pray for his little spirit not to be crushed because those names just aren’t happening.
Beck and Oliver also survived their first experience with seasons and lived to bark and meow about it. Oliver has become a hunter and is so proud of the “prizes” he brought us all summer. Thankfully, most birds have migrated south for the winter. Garrett loves Beck and we know that the dog secretly adores being ridden like a pony constantly.
Lori and Garrett had the opportunity to travel to California several times to visit her family and satisfy her cravings for good Mexican food. In July we all took a trip to San Diego. We went to Disneyland with Lori’s parents and celebrated Garrett’s birthday with family and friends. In August we spent a fantastic week at Lake Tahoe with Lori’s family. Garrett loved the lake and continuously referred to it as a pool. We all decided that it was the biggest pool we’d ever seen. In September we visited Troy’s family in Oregon for his mom’s 60th birthday. We had a great time hanging out, shopping, and playing games. In late November we packed up our house and moved to West Jordan, about ten minutes from our church. We’re settled and excited about the Christmas season. So from our home to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To My Kid Brother

First of all, you have to listen to the way my son says the word cereal. It's hysterical. At least, I think it is.

video

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My brother is 25 today. I have to admit that, lately, more than any other reason, he is the driving force behind my insane desire to welcome a second child into this family. I look back on my life, which was made so much richer by the fact that Jon was in it, and my heart aches for the same relationship for my own son. I watch all the other toddlers at church either interacting with their new siblings or waiting for them to be birthed and I long for Garrett to experience the joy of a brother or sister who is close in age.

I didn't want my brother.

I wanted the blonde baby in the incubator next to my nine-week premature pipsqueak of a sibling. He'd decided to arrive in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. I was two years, three months, and 16 days old. He was puny and, after weeks in the NICU, warranted showers and loads and oodles of attention. And I did not like that.

He grew into an obnoxious instigator of a little boy. So I hit him. In middle school and high school I generally tried my best to ignore him. Once I pulled a butcher knife on him. And, okay, so I just held it out and told him to get away from me and there was never ever a fraction of a moment where I considered using it on him but what with the way my dad reacted you'd have thought I'd actually killed my brother, right there in the kitchen.

Now that I'm a mother, I (mostly) understand. But, for the record dad...he started it!

Even when he was small and new and even when we had nothing in common and even when I was hitting him, he was mine. He's the only other person in the world who knows what it is like to be raised in our house. He's the only child who shared every vacation, every Christmas, every birthday, every day in and day out with me.

How he is 25 and engaged and walking around with two Master's degrees I'll never know. Because when I look at him I generally see my snaggle toothed kid brother. I see all the times I loved him and all the times I wanted to punch him in the face and all the memories we share because we had each other. And I long for that for my own child.

Happy Birthday, Jon. I just have one thing to say, "You're still not older than me."

Edited to add: My mom posted pictures on her website. You can see exactly what I mean by pipsqueak here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Conversation

I miss my baby. I miss his tiny body fitting between my chin and my belly button. I miss the sweet smell of his baby breath and the way he slept in my arms. But oh how I love my toddler and the sound of his adorable little voice.

Last night I had worship rehearsal for our Christmas Eve service. I called Troy at 8:45 to let him know that he should go ahead and put Garrett to bed without me because I wouldn't be home anytime soon. He told me that he'd put Garrett on the phone so that I could say goodnight to him.

Garrett: Hi.
Me: Hi.
Garrett: Hi, baby! (I say this to him sometimes and he's a very good copy cat.)
Me: I love you!
Garrett: I lub you too, mommy.
Me: I'll see you in the morning, okay?
Garrett: Nigh-night mommy.

How did he get big enough to hold a conversation, I wonder?

Also, should I be worried about the fact that I'm singing tomorrow night and I woke up this morning with a completely sore throat and a missing voice? I plan to down tea all day and keep the speaking to a minimum. Of course, it is quite a challenge to refrain from speech while simultaneously raising a two-year-old.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh How I Love the Scent of Pine, Or Why I'm A Tree Bigot

My husband calls me a tree bigot. In fact, he used these exact words in reference to me on Sunday. At church. From the pulpit. The pulpit I tell you. When I told him I should blog about my Christmas tree opinions he replied with, "You should."

Me: I should as in should should or I should as in should shouldn't.
Troy: Should as in should should as long as you carefully choose your words. I wouldn't want you to lose any of your six loyal readers.

First, it should be noted that Troy and I have conversations like this all the time. Conversations that wouldn't make sense to anyone but us, really. I have drawn the conclusion that these past six years have been damaging to our ability to communicate with the rest of the world but, perhaps, have strengthened our marriage as we have developed a language seemingly all our own. Additionally, should begins to look horribly misspelled when you type it 72,000 times.

Anyway, back to the fact that I'm a total dogmatist when it comes to Christmas trees. I love myself a real, live, slaughtered on the farm, Christmas tree. I detest synthetic trees. But let me tell you why. When I was a kid the only fake trees I ever saw were ridiculously hideous. They were horrendously lopsided, "pine needles" (and I use that term loosely) were matted together, and the branches started three feet from the ground. My friend had one such tree. Her home was always impeccably decorated. Garland rode the banister in gorgeous loops, Christmas tunes filled the rooms from the first of December into the beginning of January, and the reds and greens were splattered everywhere in festive harmony. It was a snapshot of Christmas as it should be--except the hideous, misplaced, plastic tree. And hers wasn't the only one I'd been subjected to. Fake trees, in my opinion, were a Christmas abomination.

Now. Well, now they make gorgeous "Pre-lit Christmas Trees" and I myself have even admired some of them as I walk through stores. I have even (gasp!) wondered about purchasing such a tree. It is, after all, an option. An option, that is, if Garrett developed severe allergies and it was determined that he would die of anaphylactic shock if we brought a real tree into the house. Forget about it if I were put in the same predicament. I'd buy a surgical mask and take my chances. Or I'd fashion an igloo in my backyard and allow my family the joy of having a real Christmas tree.

I do understand that some people have to have a fake tree. I get it. I really do. I'd rather you have a fake tree than suffer from exploding sinuses all December long. I'd rather you have a fake tree than a cat who climbs your real one. Although, honestly, I've never understood this reasoning. If you have an animal who plays in a real tree, won't he play in a fake tree as well? And, of course, I have other exceptions to my own bigoted rule. College students, for example, ought to have a small fake tree adorning their dorm room and not deal with the possibility that sap will stain the carpet thus explaining the strange cleaning bill they have to pay before being allowed to walk with their graduating class. The elderly are not expected to get on their hands and knees to clean up pine needles and constantly water a real tree. Or, say, people who live on yachts. They should maybe get a break too.

But a real tree. That's where it's at. And the number one reason for such a conclusion is...the smell. Troy wondered, from the pulpit, if I would be alright with a fake tree as long as he hung pine scented air freshner from it. Yes dear, that would make it exactly the same. I love the way my house smells when we have a pine tree residing in it. It is the only thing that smells exactly like Christmas and, well, Lake Tahoe which I also happen to love. And I love the way that you have to hide the holes and show the best side, much like we try to do with our own selves. I mean, come on, a real tree is like, I don't know, a metaphor for life. I love that you don't have to store them! I love figuring out which ornaments will weigh down which branches for optimum Christmas tree perfection. I love hiding Ms. Piggy on the back and then praying I remember to take her off so that she doesn't get shipped to the recycling plant. I love watering it and hoping beyond hope that it doesn't dry out too much before Christmas.

And I love watching the lights twinkle when the rest of the room is dark. This year, Garrett has been amazingly good with our tree. There is one ornament that he is obsessed with touching. Humorously, it is a Chargers bulb so I hesitate to get on him too much--I'm too busy trying to make a fan out of him. Otherwise, he hasn't tried to climb it, pull ornaments off, or yank needles from branches. He's been, kind of, in awe of it I think.

Lately he has started offering "I love yous" unprompted. It's pretty much the most adorable thing in the history of the world (ever!). He hears us respond to each other with, "I love you, too." So, naturally, that's how he says it. Even when he's not prompted with "I love you" first. As we sat together and watched the twinkly lights of our tree, our conversation went something like this.

Me: Garrett, Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Jon and Aunt Heather are going to come and visit us after Santa comes.
Garrett: Ho Ho Ho!
Me: Yep. Santa will come on Christmas Eve. He's really fun but what's the real meaning of Christmas?
Garrett: Baby Jesus.
Me: That's right.

Then we sat quietly for a few moments and suddenly Garrett turned his attention away from the tree, grabbed my face between his two chubby little hands and stared deep into my eyes. "I love you too, Mommy."

I felt my heart surge just a tiny bit and I answered back, "And I love you, Garrett." Then we turned our attention back to our real, live tree. It's branches don't wait for three feet to start and it's needles aren't bent and misshapen from eleven months in the attic. It smells like pine and magic and Christmas memories being formed, anew.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Go Chargers!

So there's no Christmas Memory post today because, instead, I have to say...wait for it...

Go Chargers!

Oh and, um... Thanks Broncos! The fact that you lost today was just sweet!

And maybe, just maybe, we'll find a way to kick your horsey haunches next week and make up for Hochuli's colossal blunder back at the beginning of the season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Two Weeks of Christmas Memories: Episode 9

If you've been reading my blog for, oh, a day, you probably know that I'm a proud card carrying member of the Amy Grant fan club. And you know what, I didn't apologize for it in the seventh grade as I belted out Galileo on the beach in San Diego so I'm not going to apologize for it now, in the mountains of Utah. Okay, so I'm really not actually in her fan club but I'm a definite fan. Partly it's because I can sing most of her songs...so thankful am I that she's not a natural soprano. Partly it's because I just love the sound of her music. And now, it is partly because I've been to two of her concerts.

One such concert was when I was in college. My mom and I went to the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim and saw her Christmas concert. It was the second time I'd seen her live and the first time I'd seen her come out in a gorgeous Christmas dress and then promptly throw an acoustic guitar over the ensemble. She just comes across as being so normal. So relatable.

And, of course, there was eager anticipation of hearing, live, Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song). I've loved this song from the very first time I heard it. It always makes me think of what it must have been like for Mary on that night, so many, many years ago. And it makes me think, even, of my own self. God certainly didn't choose me to carry his only son but he has chosen me for many things which, if he wasn't God Almighty, I would consider an error in judgement.

As she sang the lyrics that were long ago imprinted on my own heart, the arena fell desperately quiet and we soaked in the magic of the words as we transcended time and entered, somehow, that holy night...

BREATH OF HEAVEN
I have traveled
Many moonless nights
Cold and weary
With a babe inside
And I wonder
What I've done
Holy Father
You have come
Chosen me now
To carry your son
I am waiting
in a silent prayer
I am frightened
by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now
Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me, your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of Heaven
Do you wonder
As you watch my face
If a wiser one
should of had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Feel So Gross Inside I Had To Share It With the Rest of You

So I once read a blog about gross things kids had done. Someone posted about how a kid ate a snail. Someone else said something about finger painting the wall with feces. At the time, the grossest thing my kid had ever done was The Great Poopy Plane Caper. While that is still the filthiest thing my child has done, he did a pretty repulsive thing today.

First, it should be noted that Garrett is a very tenderhearted little guy. If you tell him that something hurts, he is quick to kiss it. When I had the stomach flu last week he brought me another pillow and then kissed my stomach and wondered why I wasn't healed. I've yet to explain to him that only a mommy's kiss has the ability to magically fix owies. Somewhere during the short 28--29 tomorrow--months of Garrett's life he decided that moles are boo-boos. I have a mole next to my bellybutton and my son constantly kisses it, hoping, I suppose, that he will one day fix it. He will point to the mole on my arm and say, "Mole." He then follows this with a kiss. Freckles and zits are also "moles" and, therefore, warrant kisses.

Our dog has one place on his body that is not covered in hair and, for some reason, is freckled. It's his...oh I almost can't even talk about this...male parts. Specifically, the male parts that wouldn't be there if he were neutered. Our dog also likes to lay on his back, displaying his goods for all the world to see. I think you can all see where this is heading.

Today I was cleaning the kitchen and Garrett was playing in the family room. Beck was taking an afternoon snooze, on his back, puppy-making anatomy proudly, well, just hanging out. It got quiet and I looked down into the room. Garrett was staring at the dog's little boy parts. Then he poked them. "Garrett, don't poke the doggie there, okay? He, um, doesn't like it."

"Mommy," a look of deep concern spread across his face, "Mole. Owie."

"No, bud, they aren't moles. It's okay. The doggie isn't hurt. Come here."

"Mommy, me kiss." I know his grammar needs improvement but that was hardly at the top of my mind right then.

"No--" But it was too late. With all the tenderness my toddler could muster, he bent over and kissed the dog. Garrett looked at me and smiled. And the dog looked, well, confused. I vomited a little in my mouth I think.

Two Weeks of Christmas Memories: Episode 8

It's so easy to get wrapped up in the commercial aspects of Christmas. But I remember that my freshman year of college was an amazing time of drawing nearer to the Lord and his humble birth instead of getting swallowed by holiday vomit.

It was the first time I had mandatory chapel three times a week. There are a whole lot of people who don't like mandatory chapel and resented the fact that it was imposed upon them. For me, it was a wonderful time of being held accountable for the faith I proclaimed. Being in chapel and living on a hall with other Christians and hearing Christmas songs, often with a biblical theme for several weeks before finals would send us home to our family lives really got me into the true spirit of the season. The year that I was 18, more than any other year I can remember before or after, was truly a year spent in reflection of that holy, holy night.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Do They Fit Inside?

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you breaking news. If you are my brother or any other man who may not want to hear gynecological terms discussed, especially in reference to my own self, look away because this just in...

MY OVARIES ARE ENORMOUS!

Enormous ovaries are a sign of PCOS which y'all know I have. However, when I went to the girly doctor yesterday she informed me that one of my ovaries felt enlarged. She then sent me to have an ultrasound done today. While I don't have any official results from the standard ultrasound turned internal ultrasound (because nothing can be easy and straightforward for me) I did find out that it ain't just my right ovary that's gigantic. For real. My ovaries could rival small countries in land mass.

Let's just say that a polycystic ovary typically measures between 14-20. Mine were a whopping 24. My uterus, which is normal (actually, the technician raved about how wonderful it was--which was weird) is only 63. My ovaries are a third the size of my uterus. That's a seriously unproportioned woman zone right there.

Anyway, there is really no reason for me to bring it up on my blog except that I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop wondering exactly how I pack that much ovary in that little space. I can't stop looking at my abdomen and thinking about the sorts of freak organs that lie beneath. I'm pretty much a mutant.

I've said before that my ovaries are dramatic. Perhaps psychotic would be a better adjective. Obese? Gargantuan?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two Weeks of Christmas Memories: Episode 7

One year my parents got us a trampoline. It was set up and then the blinds were closed. They made sure we didn't go outside by feeding the dog before I could and taking out the trash before my brother could. We didn't think much of it until my parents sent us up to the neighbor's with a plate of cookies. Oops. There, in our backyard, was the shiny, new trampoline. We were giddy with excitement but we didn't let on that we'd seen it.

The next day we opened all our gifts and then my parents sent us outside. We pretended not to see it and walked back in. Eventually we "saw" it and clued my parents in on their neighborly blunder. We loved that trampoline to death and then we gave it to our cousins who, I think, are still loving it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Additional Post: Tour of Homes 2008

BooMamaChristmasTour

Hey there, my name's Garrett and, you see, this is the first Christmas where I'm actually excited about what's going on. Last year I was just seventeen months old. Santa terrified me and I spent the month of December trying to climb the gate that my mommy had to put around our tree. But not this year...this year I am pretty darn excited.

My mommy tried to take a picture of her most favorite nativity scene but it simply would not photograph without giant light splotches all over it. It really didn't do it justice so she went with this one instead. Her friend gave her this one five years ago when she found out that my mommy, the pastor's wife, didn't have one. Mommy really likes it.

Here are our stockings. For some reason, this year, they do not want to hang straight. Not a single, solitary one of 'em. The long, skinny, red one is my mom's. It's the one she's been using since middle school. My dad's is on the other end. It's so old it has splotches and stains all over it. I don't really know how a stocking gets stains but his sure did.

My mom's grandma got her this decoration. She loves it and I love pointing out the baby Jesus.

You see that reindeer hanging over the edge? That was given to my mom with a bunch of other "white elephant" decorations. She didn't keep any of the others but when mommy and daddy saw the reindeer, they didn't have the heart to get rid of it. It used to be someone's prized decoration. It's got cracks where the antler was broken off and then reattached but they've got soft spots for discarded things. Every old decoration has a story to tell...

My great grandma Betty painted these. My mama loves the expressions on their faces...


We don't have any extra space in this house so storing the Christmas mugs in the cupboard with the other mugs is out of the question. Mommy decided to put them up with a miniature tree and a giant bear holding a bear holding a bear.

This is one of mommy's most favorite Christmas possessions. Daddy bought it for her when they visited Israel together the year before I was born. It's made of olive wood and plays a Christmas tune. I also like pointing out the baby Jesus in this one.
And finally, yes we decorate with these guys. My daddy has a whole huge collection and they take up several shelves of the entertainment unit. This year, I was delighted to discover decorations that double as toys or is it toys that double as decorations?
I hope you've enjoyed stopping by and seeing some of our favorite decorations. Have yourselves a merry little Christmas.

Two Weeks of Christmas Memories: Episode 6

In 2005, I peed on a stick on December 7. Two lines appeared but, being that it was only two and a half weeks until Christmas, we told no one. Because I had been a fertility patient, I was seen for an internal ultrasound right away. I've never seen an ultrasound picture with a younger embryo in it. Garrett was seven weeks "old" and he looked just like an itty bitty bean. There was positively no distinguishing between the bean's head and the bean's butt. It kind of looked like a microscopic acorn had taken residence in my womb. But we had a picture.

I went out and bought two tiny picture frames. I placed the picture inside of each frame and wrapped them up. Then I placed them under my tree. I worked with my mom and, while I was never especially ill, there were days when I was feeling extremely under the weather. Keeping the BIGGEST SECRET EVER IN THE HISTORY OF SECRETS from her was nearly impossible.

When we lived in California, we always spent Christmas Eve with Troy's family and Christmas night with mine. We also saw my extended family on the 23rd. We really wanted to tell our parents for Christmas but couldn't think of a reason for my parents to crash the Doozleberry family Christmas Eve or Troy's parents to crash my family's Christmas Day festivities. We considered telling them at church during our Christmas Eve service but we had no intention of telling anyone but our immediate families until the second trimester and we figured that announcing it to our parents at church would be way too risky. So we concocted this ridiculous story...

After driving with my parents and seeing my extended family on the 23rd, we'd stop at his parents on the way home. We told my parents that Gary and DeDe wanted us to come over so that they could give my parents their gift for them. We told Gary and DeDe that my parents wanted us to stop by so that they could give them their gift. In actuality, no one wanted anyone stopping by. Well, I mean, it's not like they had a problem with it, it's just that we were totally the teenagers who tell one friend's parents that they're spending the night at the Smith's and they tell the Smith's that they're spending the night at the Brown's and really they go camping or drive to Vegas or something.

On the night of the 23rd we visited with my extended family. And the night dragged on and on. Normally I love long evenings with family but I just wanted it to end so that our plans weren't foiled. That night I don't even think we left my aunt's until almost ten. My parents suggested that they exchange gifts with the Doozleberry's at another time.

"Oh no," replied Troy, "my parents are really looking forward to seeing you. Tonight." My parents replied with a weary, "okay."

We pulled into the Doozleberry driveway and walked up to the door. I was super nervous. We'd managed to keep the secret for just over two weeks and I felt butterflies just thinking about the fact that it was all about to come out. Or maybe that was just the nausea talking. When we knocked on the door, Troy's parents looked slightly surprised to see us. Then his mom said something about how she was going to wrap their present and then she'd be right back.

We were so about to get caught in our web of lies.

My mom looked really confused.

Troy said something about how really we had planned the whole thing because we needed to give them something. Then I pulled out the two identical picture frames and handed one to his parents and one to mine.

I'll never forget the look on my mom's face when she saw the picture. In that one instant, I had made a grandmother. My father-in-law was stunned. They'd been praying for months and months and months for this and then they all latched on to the idea of adoption and I think it kind of came out of left field. He didn't speak for several minutes. When he did it was to say something about how it was the best Christmas present he had ever received. "Well dang," I thought, "I guess I won't ever be able to top this one then."

The gift of Garrett was the best present I've ever been given and it was certainly fun to give him to others.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Two Weeks of Christmas Memories: Episode Five, Kinda

It's strange that the 2008 Children's Christmas Musical is now but a memory.

Last night, three months of rehearsals came together as eleven kids and two adults performed to a pretty packed house. It's the first time I can ever remember not being extremely burned out by the time it was all over. This was the sixth year that I have spent my fall season wrangling kids, settling spats, and kissing boo-boos all in the name of theatre. There were minor mistakes and subtle hiccups but, all in all, I think it went very well. During the course of the last few months, Mean Raised Voice Lori had to come out a few times but I think that Logical and Generally Pretty Nice Lori visited often enough that the kids had a good time. Either that or they are faking these smiles...

They are actors though. You never can tell with their kind.

When we lived in Ramona I would shout choruses of Amens, Praises and Glories when the kid's play was over for the year but I loved and adored nearly all of the kids I worked with. When we decided to trade the sunny San Diego winters for Blizzardville I was devastated about leaving some of the kids I'd grown to love seeing at auditions every September. Never, never, would I love a cast of characters as much as I loved my Mountain View kids.

Do you see those smiles in the picture? I loved directing those grins. Oh, I miss my Mountain View kids like I miss good Mexican food but those kids in the picture make the homesickness downgrade from a violent stomach flu to the occasion wave of nausea. I. Love. Them.

I tell people that I have the spiritual gift of drama. (No, there is no actual spiritual gift of drama. My spiritual gift is administration and blah blah pocket protector this and file cabinet that.) I'll never do anything more than sit in a seat in a theatre on Broadway and I can think of mounds of people who worked beside me at Salomon Theatre that are more talented than I and very few who are less. (For example: "BUt, like a cloistress, she will veil-ed walkandwater once a day her chamber roundwitheye-offending brine..." sorry. Um. I realize that makes sense to only, like, one person who ever reads my blog but the butchering of Shakespeare had to be forever etched onto a page of my blog.) But if...IF...I got an 80,000 dollar education to be a stay at home mom and stand beside my husband in ministry then I will consider it an education well worth the loans I am paying--er, my husband is paying. And if that 80,000 dollar education prepared me for the life I am leading and if it kept me from making horrible decisions and if it authenticated my personal relationship with Jesus Christ in a more concrete fashion and if I learned the things that now play a small role in creating the smiles on the faces of those kids, then every dollar was worth it. Well, maybe not the dollars that went toward Chemistry and Biology. Those dollars I consider a complete waste.

I don't consider myself talented. Not in any sense of the word. Any level of success that comes to a night like the last one is purely a gracious God giving me a love for performance art and allowing me the opportunity to bring out that love in others. So when a dear friend calls me forward and hands me flowers for a job well done, I am grateful but I feel extremely perplexed. Because I am just doing what I do--what I love to do--what I feel the Lord called me to do. I'm just always so pleased that I was able to create, from start to finish, a memory for children, their families, and others. The flowers are lovely. And they smell divine on my table. But I feel unworthy of the gift.

After all, I'm just one of the kids, all grown up, thankful that the Lord gave me the chance to play.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Two Weeks of Christmas Memories: Episode Four

I always loved when we had Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family and Christmas night with my dad's side. Those were my favorite years. I can't really put my finger on why. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that my paternal grandmother always has tinsel on her tree. As a child, until the year I insisted on hanging it on our own tree, I loved tinsel. So maybe I loved having Christmas culminate with a sparkly tree. I don't know.

What I do know is that I remember, extremely clearly, a Christmas Eve at my Grandma Betty's and my Grandpa Bob's. My grandparents lived in a mobile home--my grandpa still lives there--and it didn't take much for it to fill with the heavenly scents of roast and potatoes and carrots. If I close my eyes I can almost smell it, mixing with the pine scent from their tiny tree...the one we would later plant on our hill. We gathered around the table, Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Jon, Uncle Jason, Aunt Vicki, Kyle, Neil and I--Holly wasn't born yet, Neil was just a little guy himself. It was warm and homey and epitomized Christmas Eve.

When we opened our gifts I was thrilled to unwrap a Caboodle. At ten or eleven I was just dying for my own caboodly carrying case. I don't really know why. I wasn't wearing makeup so I have no clue what I actually intended to do with it. I remember putting temporary Charger tattoos and Blue Fins (my swim team) key chains in it. In any case, I was dying for a Caboodle. I still remember the smile on my grandma's face when I opened it. She was so pleased to have pleased me so much.

I'll never recapture the Christmas magic from childhoods at either of my grandparent's homes. I've been long grown and all of my cousins are well on their way. But the fact that discovering the magic of my Grandma Betty's smile at Christmas is now impossible makes me take a moment of pause. As I brought out my decorations this year I stopped and thought about my grandma. She made several of them and, as I placed them on shelves or hung them on walls, I thought of the Caboodle Christmas and a house full of delicious smells. I searched my mind for her smile and, when I found it, I carefully filed it back again, in a box marked, "Do Not Forget."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Two Weeks of Christmas Memories: Episode Three

When I was in the youth group at Ramona First Baptist Church (which later became Mountain View Community Church) we had white elephant gift exchanges. I love and adore white elephant exchanges. I have been a part of many hysterical Christmas parties that had, at their center, white elephant nonsense. One year, however, I did not leave the event very happy.

Everyone before me opened traditional (can traditional be associated with the phrase "white elephant"?) gifts. There was Barbie stationery. There were cans of Cheez Whiz. There was Power Ranger Bubble Bath. I approached the pile of gifts and saw one that looked especially interesting. It was oddly shaped and wrapped in pretty paper. I snatched it up. As I eagerly unwrapped it I discovered that someone misunderstood the meaning of white elephant.

Inside of my package I discovered four empty soda cans tied together with a shoe lace. Obviously, no one traded for my gift.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Two Weeks of Christmas Memories: Episode Two

When I was really little we woke up, did the Santa thing and had breakfast and then drove to one set of my grandparents and had lunch and opened presents and then drove to my other grandparents and had dinner and opened presents with them and even though I loved presents I remember being really, really, exponentially tired by the end of the day. And full.

Around the time that we moved to Ramona, we put an end to the nonstop Christmas day action. We started visiting one set of grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins on Christmas Eve. Then we would have a slow Christmas morning at our house and see the other set of grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins on Christmas night. Although, truthfully, I only had one cousin until I was nine. The next year we would switch which side of the family we saw on Christmas Eve and Christmas night. I don't know how our extended family felt about the arrangement but I loved it. Not only did Christmas last longer, we actually got to play with the stuff we got on Christmas morning.

When I was seven my brother and I got new bikes. I remember getting up that morning and creeping slowly and quietly down the hall before my parents woke up, just to see the magic before anyone else. Well, obviously, my new bike wasn't wrapped so I sped back down the hall so my parents wouldn't know I'd seen it already. After we opened our other presents, I rode the bike for a few minutes. Later, our neighbors, who had gotten a horse for Christmas, invited us on a ride. I was desperate for my own horse so my brother and I eagerly agreed. We started down the trail with my brother, myself, and the neighbor's son, David, atop the bareback horse. As David's dad walked beside us I suddenly felt all of us slipping. I gripped my brother tightly and held him as we toppled to the ground. Pain seared through my right arm and into my shoulder as we hit the ground. I sobbed all the way home.

I cried into the afternoon.

We were going to my aunt and uncle's house for Christmas night. When we were getting ready to leave my brother, who thought I was being overdramatic (I know. Weird right? Why would I suddenly start being overdramatic. I mean, I'd never been overdramatic before. Right mom? Mom...Mom...stop laughing!) punched me in the arm. "Is that where it hurts?"

I cried.

I don't remember much about the time at my aunt's house--just that my arm hurt. And hurt.

Turns out that it was broken. Way up high, close to my shoulder. It couldn't be casted so I spent many weeks in a sling and Ace bandage. My shiny new bike sparkled in the garage while my brother raced up and down the street on his.

I still hate horseback riding.
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For some reason, I as write this I am feeling like I broke my arm on the day after Christmas. Maybe, for some reason, we celebrated Christmas with my Dad's side of the family on the 26th that year instead of the 25th. Mom, can you clear this up for me?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two Weeks Of Christmas Memories: Episode One

The house was decorated in reds and greens and twinkly lights. Carols had been sung. Presents had been wrapped. Cookies and milk were carefully placed on the table by tiny hands. Carrots sat next to the cookies because, after all, reindeer get hungry too. 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even our dog. The stockings would have been hung by the chimney with care but we had no chimney so we'd left a key on the front porch for St. Nicholas--hoping he would soon be there. My brother and I were nestled all snug in our beds while visions of sugar plums danced in our heads. Oh, who am I kidding. To this day I don't know what a sugar plum is. I just looked it up on the Internet and, given the almonds and pitted dates that the recipe called for, I don't think I'd be much of a fan. Visions of sugar plums didn't dance in our heads. Visions of candy canes and cookies and presents definitely did. And mamma in her kerchief and papa in his cap had just settled their brains for a long winter's nap.

Just the thought of my mom in a kerchief and my dad sleeping in a stocking cap makes me smirk. They definitely don't slumber in such attire. In any case, out on the lawn--or somewhere, I don't know--there arose such a clatter, I awoke and froze in my bed...something was the matter. I was certain I'd heard Santa.

I was also certain that my bladder was extremely full and in serious need of relief. I also believed that if I got up and caught sight of Santa, he'd leave without bestowing gifts upon my brother and myself. I couldn't be responsible for such a Christmas catastrophe. So I laid there. And laid there. And laid there. I had no idea how long it took Santa to fill stockings and place gifts under the tree with care but I knew that I'd better make good and sure he was gone before I got up.

In all my five-year-oldness I squirmed. I couldn't take it anymore. I finally decided that I'd rather come face to face with Santa than wet my bed. I dashed from my room to the bathroom. I remember closing my eyes tightly and hoping that Santa would understand my basic human need to pee. When I finished I sprinted back to my bed, dove under the covers and whispered, "Sorry Santa. I really had to go."

In the morning my stocking was brimming with goodies and my name was on several of the packages under the tree. Santa had been there. Whether he'd been there at the exact time I had to go to the bathroom, I'll never know. I'll never know if he was there, unloading loot, at the precise moment that I was dashing down my hallway. I could have come face to face with jolly old St. Nicholas. But I didn't...

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This blog writer believes that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. She believes that he is THE reason for the Christmas season. She is also thankful that, as a child, her parents shared a little of the magic of St. Nick with her.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Question Answered

Concerning my post on December 7, anonymous asked if I was pregnant again. Troy and I are Paper Pregnant. It's been 20 months since we started trying to welcome a second child into our lives. With every passing day I realize more and more that Garrett was our biological miracle. Now we're waiting for a miracle that is not bone of our bones but is growing, instead, in our hearts.

So, in a way, yes, I'm pregnant again. But technically, no, I'm not.

The flu...

The one good thing about having the most horrendous flu is that I never thought I'd see my middle school weight again. But lo and behold...

There's always a silver lining.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December 7

It's after 11:00 pm which means that this day almost passed without me remembering. I rushed through all the things I had to do today and only just now took notice of the date.

Six years ago my husband and I sat across from each other on our first date.

Three years ago I saw not one but two lines on the stick.

Both boys, on their own, are immeasurably more than I deserve. Together, well, words don't begin to describe the joy in my heart.

December 7th is a very good day.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Our Date With Santa

Trust me, we understand the real meaning of Christmas. We are certainly teaching our son about Jesus, the manger, and why he came. Nevertheless, we do enjoy the festive pageantry that marks this holiday. Part of this fun includes annual trips to see a shopping mall Santa.

When Garrett was four and a half months old, my mom and dad took him to see Santa. Troy and I were running a Children's Christmas Play Dress Rehearsal. He was clad in Christmas colors complete with little green booties. Though he didn't cry, he promptly puked green baby food all over the crisp white cuff of Santa's sleeve. The picture is adorable, you can even spy the smeared peas on Santa's sleeve...if you look close enough.

Last year, my mom, aunt, and cousin took him to visit Santa on the day that Troy, my dad, and myself drove the moving van from San Diego to Salt Lake. My mom flew out a day later with Garrett. We don't have a Santa picture. The kid refused to sit on the scary man's lap. The helpful elf suggested that my mom sit on Santa's lap with my son so that they could get a picture. My mom decided that I didn't need a picture of her on Santa's lap with my ballistic child.

My mom is visiting for the week and we took Garrett to visit Santa today. I thought it would be a repeat of last year. It usually takes Garrett a few minutes to warm up to regular people. I was certain he wouldn't get within ten feet of the lap of a jolly, bearded, bowl full of jelly man. As we stood in line, we prepped him. I explained the procedure. I informed him of exactly what would happen. I told him that he would sit on Santa's lap and, in turn, Santa would give him a treat. Garrett really likes treats. We coached him on the fact that he could tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas.

Me: Okay buddy. You're going to sit on Santa's lap and then you'll get a treat. Okay?
Garrett: Yeah.
Me: What are you going to ask Santa to bring you?
Garrett: A green hat.

WHAT?

It didn't matter how we prompted him to come up with something else. It didn't matter how I asked it. He was convinced. Sure. Decided. He wanted a green hat from Santa.

Me: Garrett, Santa will bring you a toy if you want.
Garrett: Yeah.
Me: What kind of toy might you want?
Garrett: A green hat.

Well, in any case, when it was our turn I braced myself for the worst. I headed over to Santa with Garrett in my arms. I sat him down and Santa said, "Well hey there Garrett. My you've grown since last year." And then...well...I'll let the picture speak for itself...








That kid loves himself some Santa. They whispered words with each other. Perhaps Garrett mumbled something about his green hat, I don't know. What I know is that Santa gave him not one but two candy canes and a book. When it was time to leave, Garrett went back and hugged him. Then he tried to climb back up onto his lap. Santa, who was in a very good mood, said something about how he would love to hold him all day long but he needed to see the other children. So then Garrett said, "Die die, Santa. Tink to." Which does not mean that he wanted Santa to die but that he was saying, "Bye bye, Santa. Thank you."

It was precious.

And...um...then I promptly went shopping for a silly green hat.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

OCD?

Some things in my life have been, well, overstated. If you've known me for longer than five minutes you know I abused my brother when we were children--the now infamous story being that his first sentence was, Mommy, sissy hit--you know that when I was quite small I made my newlywed aunt and uncle read me a book while they took a bath. Together. Presumably with no clothing on. And you know that my family thinks I was born missing my off switch. My dad doesn't think there was a time, from the development of my language skills until I left for college, when I wasn't talking. These stories are becoming legendary. Or, at least, they should be with as often as they're told.

Speaking of legendary. I come from a long line of cleaners. My dad. His mom. I'm sure a great-grandparent or two. My clean gene has always manifested itself in the nice, neat little compartment of organization. I certainly don't keep the cleanest house I've ever seen. My shelves can rarely pass a white glove test and sometimes I'll go weeks without cleaning the least frequented bathroom. I probably didn't need to confess that. I'm sure you think less of me now. But when it comes to being organized well...I should have maybe majored in it. I'm way better at that than I am at acting.

When I was little (and by little I mean eight or nine) I used to clean my closet. For fun. I loved to get things in better order than they were before. As the story goes, I was playing with a friend when she and her sister had to clean their own closet. It was horrors worse than my own closet and I acted as the drill sergeant making her get rid of things she hadn't used in several months. I can remember helping other friends and neighbors organize their own rooms throughout high school and college.

Then I married a piler. Troy really enjoys piles. Loves them, even. He maybe would have married a pile if it was decidedly female. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but, the truth is, you kind of can. I know this because, the longer Troy and I are married, the less clutter my house takes on. I even see myself wearing off on him in ways I could only have dreamed of five years ago. There's only one problem. The better he gets, the worse I get. Oh, I don't replace his piles with my own. No. I replace his piles with higher expectations heaped upon him. My brother, the psychologist, says that everyone has areas of their life that are obsessive/compulsive. The problem is that my area, which I've always known was a severe allergy to clutter, is getting worse. And I can see it.

In my mind, all things have a place and when other things are added to that place, I feel uneasy. I feel, truthfully, a compulsion to move it that either must be consciously suppressed or must be acted upon. For example, my end table currently has three Christmas decorations and several Christmas books on it. That's fine. They can live there. But if someone (read: Troy) puts a cell phone or a newspaper or a set of keys on it, I have to move them to their rightful home. The phone goes to the night stand or into a pocket, the keys onto the hook by the door and the newspaper into the recycler because, well, it's after 10:00 am so it should be read and ready for recycling by now.

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering how I have a toddler, aren't you? Honestly, I spend a lot of my day picking up after him but I also let him have his way with his playroom constantly. It's not that I can't let him play and destroy spaces, I just have to "fix" them when he's finished. The trouble is I can see it getting worse and what worries me is not the fact that I am ruining my son's life--really, truly, he destroys his spaces on a daily basis--but the fact that I am 27 years old. What, on earth, am I going to be like at 40 or 50? I don't have to wash my hands three thousand times before I flip the light switch 82 times and then turn around in three circles and spit twice into the toilet or anything like that but I do, often times, have crazy urges to declutter things.

So the bottom line is this...is there medication for this? Or do I have to chalk it up to my clean genes and go about my life either driving those around me crazy or feeling all twisty and psychotic inside as I stare at a television remote thrown haphazardly onto the couch instead of placed neatly inside the cabinet?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tale of a Tail

When I was five years old a cartoon hit the theaters just before the Christmas season. It was a story of a little Russian mouse named Fievel. An American Tail became a beloved classic for my brother and me.

We just switched from Comcast to Direct TV and we get the premium movie channels for free for a short while. I decided to check out what was on HBO tonight and my son is currently enthralled with Fievel and Tiger and the whole gang.

It's so special to share the things of my youth with him. And 22 years later this song still gets to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRjb8sMjYu8