Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Papa's Ranch

It reminds me of my childhood. Horses, tractors, cattle, hiking, climbing, exploring... I love taking the kids to Papa's ranch because they get to experience life at a slower pace, a purity and peace that city life can't touch.
For so long I tried to get as far away from the country as possible. Now, I obsess about it. The DNA is inside me, and it compels me. It's like a dinner bell that continues to call me home. The desire in me to get back to my roots - so to speak - gets stronger and stronger everyday.
We'll see what happens...

It never seems to turn out like the vision in my mind...

I have been planning our Christmas photos for a couple of months. Darkish, Gothic revivalish, band-photoish, grey, black and silver hues.
For some reason, I was not able to capture the vision in my mind.
Could it be - - hmmm - - that I have a 5, 4 and 2 year old with whom I am trying to communicate my artistic vision? It's ok. Actually they did great. We got some great pics. My kids are freaking awesome.
I was hoping to get outside right at dusk. Alas, it was too cold. We ended up in the gallery at the Lawrence Arts Center. Its a great warm space, a blank canvas. We just migrated around the gallery for an hour - taking snapshots of the family. It was surprisingly calm and quite fun.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Our first big snow of the season

While I watched from my back door window, cozy and warm inside the house, I sent my kids out in the cold to burn off some steam.
Actually they requested this arctic adventure. I bundled them up with so many layers that I could almost audibly hear Randy from 'A Christmas Story' (Ralphie's little brother), as he waddled to the door and objected, "I can't put my arms down!"
I giggled just watching them. Canon stashed a storehouse of snowballs. Whitby expressed her creative self with one-of-a-kind, designer snow-angels. Cosmo wandered around the yard on a search and rescue mission for frozen footballs and frosty frisbees.
As for me, I tip-toed out about 4 times, just to capture these moments (which I did not personally attend) into photographs.

Snow Babies

Seeking Sugarplums

I read a book to my kids tonight in which the main character "Just couldn't wait for Christmas!" I chuckled and wondered, "At what point in our lives does the season of Christmas become such a hassle? (Just let me know if I am the only one out there who feels this way.)
Right around Thanksgiving, when the first Christmas song comes on in the elevator, I start to tense up as visions of disharmony dance in my head. Rather than anticipation, I feel apprehension. Christmas cheer becomes Christmas fear. I dread spending too much money (and boo myself for waiting till now - and not working on it all year). I agonize about what specific gifts to get each of the 13 adults and 15 children in our family. Traveling is a nightmare. My poor children are strapped to a chair for 8 - 10 - 12 hours at a time. That's abusive! But we do it... and we are expected to.
All that before we even reach our destinations! We get all out of whack. My family doesn't eat right or get enough sleep - no wonder EVERYONE is cranky! I worry that people might not get along or that one of us may offend someone. I stress my kids out because by golly, they must have perfect manners - in fact, they must be perfect. They must be seen and not heard. Let's just press pause on being a kid till we get back home, is that cool?
I am wracking my brain to summon a Christmas in the last 12 years in which no one got hurt, no one got in a fight, no one swore they would not be back next year.
Maybe things will be different this year. We can all don our gay apparrel. All will be calm, all will be bright. Bells on bobtail will ring. I will bring a dish. Everything will just be sugarplummy (that's christmas for "peachy").

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bring a dish...

I meet with 8 other women in a mom's bible study on Monday mornings. I truly learn so much from these women. I learn about being a better mom, a better citizen, a better volunteer, a better wife, a better cook. Who am I kidding, I can't be a better cook. I am not a cook at all.
A few weeks ago one woman was telling about the breads she was making and the yeast that was passed down to her by her grandmother's yeast...collection...pile...clump??
Others chimed in about baking, and tips were shared about chopping nuts and freezing bananas and drizzling drizzle on top. I sit in suspended animation when they talk about such domestics. I feel exposed - someone is surely going to discover that I am clueless - yet I just smile and nod. But last week, they smoked me out.
Someone mentioned the advice her grandmother gave her about staying in-good with the in-laws. "Just give 'em a little squeeze and always bring a dish." All present, agreed with amusement but I stared blankly. "A Dish?" I blurted out.

This was an aha moment for me.

Last year, at Creighton's big family Christmas gathering, I noticed - I swear for the first time - that the other sisters-in-law had ALL brought a dish. How did they know to do that? I never got a memo about bringing a dish.
That's it. There IS no memo. Bringing a dish is just advice that is passed down like yeast from your grandmother's collection...pile...clump of "vital tidbits every wife and mother needs to know".
My life would be so much easier if someone could just compile these elusive tidbits into a simple, step-by-step manual. I could study it before I face the Moms on Monday morning.