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Just Look Surprised (And Happy)
Monday, 16 December 2013

The girls are old enough now to be very directly involved in choosing and/or making the gifts they give, and for better or worse this year, they’re in it up to their necks.

Cora has decided to make Sock Buddies for her teacher and a couple select friends: you take a long cotton sock, fill it with rice and dried lavender buds, then sew the end shut. Now you’ve got a Sock Buddy to put in the freezer to cool off an owie, or in the microwave to act as a heating pad. Cora loves measuring and filling, but even more so she adores threading a needle and laboriously sewing that sock shut tight, one stitch at a time.

Maddie has come up with some elaborate plan to make everyone in the family t-shirts; I think it has something to do with each person spelling out a word, or a sentence, or something. Not quite sure where we’re going to wear it, but there you go.

As Cora watched Maddie get involved in the shirt-making business, Cora decided SHE has to make shirts for Maddie and Daddy, so she’s been busy with stamps and an inkpad all weekend. Can’t wait to see Daddy’s face, and even more important, to see him wear the shirt like I know he will. ‘Cause he loves his little girl.

Maddie has chosen to make candy for most of her friends, which I’d applaud more loudly if I didn’t suspect it was all an elaborate ruse to be able to eat the leftovers of said candy.

And Cora’s working on something for her Gamma –but I can’t give that one away here.

I love that I haven’t said a word to the girls about gift-giving: they’ve sat down and decided who they want to get gifts for, and then come up on their own with creative, low- or no-cost solutions to manufacture a great gift for a loved one. Seeing them WANT to give gifts, and figure out their own ways to do so without dipping into the Mommy Piggy Bank, has been a real treat this year.

Now, ask me again how awesome I think it is when I’m wearing my family t-shirt/slogan thingie . . .

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Being A Truth-Teller In A Fairy-Tale World
Friday, 13 December 2013

Last week I was at a mom’s group with several friends, and as we sat around chatting and catching up one mom started telling a cute story about her six-year-old and a recent lunch table experience.

It seems that this little girl – we’ll call her Susie – had a friend who, at six years old, insisted that Santa is not real. Susie became quite concerned, and several other kids at the table started to panic. As the children argued and began yelling at the poor “Santa basher”, the teacher came over to see what was going on. By this time, at least one child was near tears at the thought that Santa was not real, so the teacher began to calm the child, assuring him that Santa is, indeed, real. Unconvinced, the student continued to cry.

“So what happened?” one mom asked interestedly.

My friend chortled. “Well, the kids were so worried that the teacher finally called several lunch ladies over who also assured the children that this one child was wrong and Santa is, indeed, real, and everyone finally calmed down. I just thought it was so sweet how all the grown-ups rallied around those poor kids and reassured them!” she finished, smiling, and the conversation turned to other topics.

I sat there in silence, thinking about how that poor six-year old who insisted Santa isn’t real must have felt to have been told by countless adults that she was at best mistaken, and at worst, a liar.

Because that would have been my kid.

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Well, thanks to a huge ice storm that hit north Texas Thursday night, we spent three glorious days not getting in our car, not working, not packing school lunches, and in general having a fantastic time.

School was out Friday and Monday, thanks to the solid sheet of ice coating all the roads. And before anyone starts sneering about the pathetic southerners who can’t drive in snow, this is ice, ok? And I drove in snow for twelve years in New York, but you can’t drive on a solid sheet of ice with no snow plows or salt trucks around. Ok?

At any rate, the girls were outside as much as I’d let them, playing in the back yard, “ice skating” in our cul-de-sac, and sledding down the school hill with friends. We kept cider mulling on the stove for three solid days, and wallowed in our home-ness, baking and wrapping gifts and decorating for Christmas like it was December 24.

The whole sleeping in thing has been pretty great, too.

But the real world’s come back, and temperatures got above freezing on Monday, thawing out the roads and giving lots of people restless feet. I headed back to teaching Monday night and school is on for this morning. Teachers are feeling the squeeze of having two days taken away from them before winter break, and suddenly we’re realizing it’s two weeks before Christmas and the clock is ticking!

But for four glorious days, time stood still and we reveled in every minute of it.

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Santa Has Left the Building
Friday, 06 December 2013

I’ve always been ambivalent about the whole Santa thing: I enjoy the magic and childlike wonder, but feel incredibly uncomfortable actively encouraging my children to believe a lie. So I’ve lived in this uncomfortable zone at Christmas time, deflecting questions and trying to avoid all-out lying to my kids. And yes, we go see Santa for photos, and hang stockings, and all that – but we don’t do Elf on a Shelf or go crazy with the Santa idea.

This year just after school started, the mom of one of Cora’s friends pulled me aside and told me that Cora had told her daughter Laura that Santa Claus wasn’t real. In a very sweet and non-threatening way, the mom asked me to please ask Cora to respect other family’s traditions and not ruin the illusion of Santa Claus. Mortified, I assured the mom that Cora and I had never even had “the” Santa talk, and as far as I knew Cora still believed, and perhaps it was a misunderstanding?

Then this weekend we were getting into the car at an outdoor shopping area, replete with lights and Santa posters, and Cora asked Brian point-blank if Santa was real. Brian completely deflected the question and we breathed a sigh of relief.

THEN came this week.

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Talkin' 'Bout the Man With the Bag
Thursday, 05 December 2013

I haven’t written for a of days – no one’s sick, we’re just working through some hard stuff here.

Cora’s figured out the lowdown on the Man in Red, and we’re having some tough conversations, and frankly it’s been too much to process “out loud” here.

I’ll get it all straight in my head and written out for tomorrow – promise.

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