Sunday, December 27, 2015

Life Lists & Bucket Items

I've been reflecting a lot on 'if not now, then when?'. I often wonder (when
the glass is half empty) what life holds next for me. Sometimes I also wonder (when the glass is half full) what I hold next for life. I decided to make a list of odd/interesting things I have done and enjoyed thus far, just to see what kind of perspective it would bring me. The spirit of the ah-ha moment means you don't see it coming. So while I do not particularly have a bucket list of must-do items, I do have a few lines yet to fill, which brings me to the ponderment of 'if not now, then when?'.

I have . . . .

- Danced down Main Street in an official Disneyland parade
- Traveled alone through Europe with no plan
- Been selected from the audience to be on a TV show
- Won numerous radio contests (including $1,000, a trip to NY and
   various restaurant cards)
- Sung Jingle Bells at a crowded United Airlines gate to get an upgrade to first class
- Had triplets
- Spent New Year's Eve on the Champs-Elyseés in Paris
- Quit a career on the spot to begin a new one, across the country
- Organized a Locks of Love event that produced 286 ponytails (26 lbs. of hair)
- Threw a dart at a U.S. map and relocated to the nearest big city
- Took a solo driving trip around the U.S. (to get to that city and back) covering 23 states plus the lower part of 2 Provinces in Western Canada
- Camped under the desert stars with strangers I met on I-25 in the New Mexico wilderness (on the way to that city)
- Lived in 11 U.S. cities (as a result of that dart)
- Driven solo through 16 states (as a result of the relocations instigated by that that dart)
- Rock climbed in the desert
- Seen a UFO
- Visited 3 of the 7 Wonders of the World (Macchu Picchu, Christ the Redeemer and the Roman Colosseum)
- Met an odd collection of celebrities in unexpected places (Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Roy Orbison, OJ Simpson, Hulk Hogan, Sandra Bullock, John Candy, David Hasselhoff, Cheech Marin and more)
- Seen someone die inches from my face (obviously not a bucket list item)
- Seen a UFO

Reading this back to myself, I realize that every single thing on this list has been a spontaneous event. Very little if any forethought was involved. I'm not saying that has always been a positive outcome initially, but eventually for sure. The ah-ha that has now been produced is that if you put yourself in the right frame of mind and place, and allow yourself some freedom, interesting and amazing circumstances can develop.

What's next??





Thursday, December 24, 2015

Almost There

Only one more night after tonight, and Elfie will be on his way back to Santa's home at the North Pole. Another year that my children believe, another year I almost forget, every. single. night. to move the damn elf. But it really is worth it. There have been just a hint of questions about how Christmas works. Mostly a slight curiosity. In an instant it vanishes when the subject changes to what they want from Santa. But I wonder. When will they know? Will they let on? Will they spoil it for the ones in our home who still believe? Are we almost there? I hope not.

While we haven't placed formal wagers, my money is on my daughter to spill it, just to torture they other two. In an Ally McBeal style moment of thought, I envisioned her sobbing and devastated because she had 'ruined' Christmas for everyone. Indeed, if she did spill the beans, she would not have done it to eliminate Santa, only to torture her brothers. She unwittingly however, does things to torture them that backfire, and this would be the granddaddy of them. Thus, late at night, after my husband has obligingly cut paper and wrapped gifts (because I have been injured and spent too much time at the ER from self-inflicted sharp object accidents) I find myself in the garage peeling packing labels off boxes. This is where I imagine my daughter discovering the sender of said boxes and sharing her discovery with her brothers.

When I was a child, we posted our wish lists on the refrigerator. My brother and I still are convinced that we never got a single thing from those labored over lists. Maybe so, maybe not. I do know that my mother believes it's what the giver wants to give, not what the recipient wants. I suppose that's one way to look at it. My husband and I have not been particularly creative or overly romantic/demonstrative over the years with our holiday gifts. It's less important to us than the rest of the year. I used to really like the element of surprising him, but I'd rather he really enjoy what he gets, or just skip gifts altogether. So we ask each other. The kids are delighted when he and I open the gifts and it's good for them to see us exchange an item of affection. This is where I think Santa for my kids is exciting. Everything is still new to them at seven years old. Everything is exciting and full of wonder. While we don't go overboard with their gifts. Just enough for them to enjoy that fast fading bastion of childhood beliefs in something mystical, fun and exciting. I don't know when that will change, but every passing year brings us closer to it. Almost there. But not just yet.

For as long as they believe, I will.

Found Around

Found hiding in a bedroom he's never been in before.

 Elfie left a little surprise for the kids. 
Elf sweetened lip balm in sugar cookie, candy cane and hot cocoa!

 He was looking down at the Elf village we built for him one last time. Tonight he goes back to the North Pole!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hanging Around

Yesterday Elfie was chewing on a candy cane in the house, 
upside down of course. 

This morning, the kids were distraught when they could not find him. I wondered aloud of they had been behaving well enough to make him want to stay. Because we're creating a police state, of course. 

He was found, perched on my rear view mirror in the car. I guessed that he missed the cold, since we actually have ice on the windows here on the West coast. Despite the fact that our friend's elf Trina, had a to build a snowman out of TP. No snow in Michigan right now as it turns out. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

More Silliness

He hid behind the sunflowers.

Then he tried to pass himself off as a Christmas card.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Marshmallows & Candy Canes

         The kids freaked out when they could not find him. He was perched on our older son's dresser. Then, he moved again and decided to have a marshmallow milkshake with candy cane straws. The squeals the kids let out when they find him each time are worth all of it. 


And of course, he HAD to take a marshmallow bath. 
No doubt he stirred the 'water' with his candy cane 
to make it just the right temperature.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Perhaps . . .

In the midst of Elves, Santa, El Niño and finals, I woke up this morning to text messages out of control. Before I could read the over 30 messages, my phone rang. It was my friend, another mom from my kids' school.

"Are you sending your kids to school?" She sounded frantic and I did not know why.

"Yes, of course. Why?" I replied.

"Turn on the news". We don't have cable, so any news I get is from Facebook or online sites I may visit. Ostrich head in the sand or not, I have to say I have been much happier not watching the news on television. Also, my kids never see commercials or sensationalized versions of anything newsworthy or otherwise. I suppose this could be called the 'homeschool' version or current events. In any case, I checked the local ABC station and discovered that the Los Angeles Unified School District had closed based on a 'credible threat' they were as of yet analyzing.

I repeated to my friend that my kids would be at school, and she hurriedly said she would call me back. She didn't, but I caught up with her at school later, where her daughter would not leave the car. In the meantime, I quickly scanned Facebook and CNN, and determined that we were under no threat here. The only threats being made here were my unaware seven year olds annoying each other. As it should be, I thought.

Once I had them safely at school and some coffee safely in my bloodstream, I began to better process what was happening. My mother, a retired LAUSD teacher, was home, safe and sound. My children do not attend LAUSD. We do not live adjacent to LAUSD. However, being in Southern California, we are certainly close enough to any action that might occur to have some concern. While I ran down the gratitude list, I head on the radio that New York had received the same threat. It was also being stated that the email had been an anonymized hoax based in Germany. Perhaps of someone trying to evade finals at school? Who knows.

This hoax comment gave many relief, including my fellow mom friends at school. A few comments from people on Facebook referred to the snow days of their youth. Now our children have 'bomb threat days'. What a sad world.

This nostalgia sure hits the nail on the head. Perhaps one day my family will get to experience what my husband and I had as a child. Probably not though. My friend, Kim Tracy Prince, pointed out a phrase from the LAUSD Superintendent, 'an abundance of caution'.  Some of my friends were annoyed that NY called the LAUSD's decision an overreaction. They would rather have a cautious decision made than to send our children off to an unknown danger.

We are pretty direct with our little ones when they ask questions. When they come home today I wonder if perhaps they will have questions. I wonder what, if anything, they will have heard.

Though I felt no fear of sending my children to school, though I felt no worry for my mother, though I listened to the news and heard the comment about it being a hoax, I began to consider that perhaps this incident is a trial. Perhaps 'they' are testing to see what the reaction would be? Perhaps 'they' want to make us squirm without actual physical harm.

What is so damaging about this, is that though nothing appeared to actually happen, something did happen. More fear was spread. And that, perhaps, is the new weapon of choice.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Elf Mischief

The kids were delighted my husband could not touch his Oreos. 

We think he was climbing up to be with the angel. 
My daughter is convinced he's in love with her. 

Just to throw my daughter off, Elfie decided to do a quick 
zip line from upstairs to the downstairs. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Write Time

In the midst of soccer ending, kids' after school plans, our Elf, house cleaning and holiday activities, it is so easy to miss the little things. Sometimes the little things turn out to be the big things. Blink and you'll miss them.

One of these little/not so little things occurred last week as I sat down with my children after school to help them with their homework. They had gone to a play date right after early dismissal, with the promise they would focus on homework as soon as we returned. Riding high from the fun at their friend's house, they really did not want to sit down and do something required of them.

All three of the triplets approach nearly everything in different ways. Homework is no exception. They all enjoy reading. But this day, they needed to write. Not just write, but fill an entire blank page. One will fill a whole journal given the opportunity. One needs a little nudge at the beginning of each sentence. The third, he needs a complete explanation, detailed instruction, a pencil, a pencil with an eraser, PLUS hand holding.

I took my son to my office and just looked at him for a minute. He was coordinating his paper and lap desk, and I had suggested he use an additional piece of paper for notes. I thought about what he likes and understands. He is a very smart, observant child. He loves to create things by building them out of nothing. He has been making his own transformers out of legos for a couple of years and really enjoys science. So we sat together discussing how to break things apart and put them together, in word form. The last time he had to write a full page, he had a ferocious meltdown and it nearly took an act of God to drag three sentences out of him.

This time, my approach worked like a charm. I asked him what he thought the first step was. He shrugged, and I explained that writing actually means a lot of thinking. A little more bewilderment as he looked at his pencil. "My pencil can't think, Mommy". I chuckled, and explained that note taking and thinking are very important parts to writing, before you get to the actual writing. I asked him to read each part of the instructions one at a time. Then we attacked each one. As we did, he wrote down a few key words to remember what he wanted to write. Slowly, his frustration with the blank page lifted ( I can so relate!) and he began to - ENJOY - himself. I saw it flicker across his face as the pencil etched descriptives on his outline. Once he understood the process, he took off. I repeated the whole set up with my daughter, successfully. I was both relieved and amazed at the outcome.

First and foremost, I had the privilege of watching my children cross over from one way of learning to another, and truly love it. The icing was enjoying with them something I love to do, in a new way. I remember learning how to outline somewhere back in middle school, and not liking it at all. I wanted to write and I did not want anyone to tell me how to make it logical. It seemed to me that writing should be felt, not tidied. Obviously that was the thought of the young, yet-to-be-schooled writer in me. I still feel writing, only now I know how to tidy it (mostly) where necessary.The gift of teaching this to my children, especially the first time, was energizing. It was a new kind of excitement for me seeing the excitement in them.

The best part was convincing them that they could write about whatever
they wanted. It was a freedom that seemed contrary to the directions they are so accustomed to following. They were uncertain with how it felt. I know that uncertainty. I asked them if they had any questions for me. Suddenly the light that had turned on became brighter, and they pummeled me with questions about creating stories and connecting sentences. Part of parenting is figuring out how to open doors so children can discover what is on the other side. Like teaching, you do not always get the privilege of experiencing them walking through that door. This time, I got to walk through the door with them.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

While the Cat's Away, the Elfie Will Play

This morning we awoke to find Elfie reading "Robots Rule!" Apparently Cole's fascination with robots has already rubbed off on Elfie. Elves, robots, triplets, clowns, jokers . . . whatever.

Since we were out all day, the kids' heads were exploding with wonder of whether or not Elfie moved while they were at school. Sure enough, that cheeky imp was lounging in the chandelier.

He looked like he was doing the backstroke. And he left us a couple of goodies!

Elfie - Blending In

He hid amongst the decorations . . .

leaving a scrolled message . . .

And then, he decided to go fly a kite.