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Showing posts from December, 2008

Holiday Highlights

Our newest Christmas tradition is the "Elf on the Shelf." Have you heard of the Elf? The elf -- ours is named George -- is Santa's scout. Each day he perches somewhere and keeps an eye on the children; each night he flies to the North Pole to report to the Big Boss; each morning he's in a new spot in the house, and the kids have to search all over to find him. For a solid month, Mallory's first words upon awakening have been, "Phoebe, let's go find George!" Then she'd instruct me to say "Elf Alert!" if I spotted him first (which, incidentally, I always did). For her part, Phoebe always said, upon finally tracking George down, "Geo-orge, how did you get there?" Chris and I George only forgot to hide one time during Advent. Go George! Now he's in the attic at the North Pole, waiting for next year.

This picture was taken on Christmas Eve morning. Wee little George is in the fireplace, waiting to give his final report to Sant…

Merry and Brighty

It was the last day of school before Christmas break, and my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. G, said that she had a gift for each of us. "I've picked out a book for you," she said (and some students groaned). "I tried to pick one that matched your personalities."

I was alight with anticipation, wondering what book she had selected for me. A Nancy Drew? A Ramona? Perhaps something like The Westing Game, or Harriet the Spy? Mrs. G called my name, and I dashed to the front of the room to be presented with:



Brighty of the Grand Canyon. Which was about a donkey, or a mule, or a burro of some kind, who ferried people in and out of the canyon, and perhaps there were bandits of some kind involved, and Brighty saved -- but the plot is not the point. The point is, this was a book about a jackass, and Mrs. G saw it, and thought of me.

My wish for you, on this holiest of nights, is that, tomorrow and evermore, you never receive, or bestow upon another, a gift as perplexing as thi…

Weekend 101

Child Psychology
We went to Target to get gifts for Mallory's best friends. Mallory kept picking out ridiculous items, like Baby Einstein lullaby CDs and 50 cent Power Ranger coloring books. Finally I said, "Mallory, what are you doing? You need to pick out something your friends will like." She said, "But if I pick out something really good, then I'll be jealous that they're getting it and I'm not." I gave her a stern lecture about The Joy of Giving and she eventually found something decent in the Art and Crafts aisle -- although, as she said, "I really hope I get one of these kits too, or else I'm going to cry on Christmas Day." Sometimes I think I've raised a bad seed.

Mother Psychology
I confess that I vetoed many of Mallory's gift suggestions in the Arts and Crafts aisle, by putting myself in her friends' mothers shoes. I don't want to have to help my kid make her own lip balm, or her own super bouncy balls; I don'…

Mallory's Christmas List, Part II

Der Santa.

I hop you like the cookies that I mad for you. And I hop you have a good chrip back. How are you and Mrs. Claus dowing. I am dowing fin. I hop you have a wonderful CHRISTMAS. Wat I wont for CHRISTMAS is a wonderful CHRISTMAS for my famaly and me. And a bell from your slay. And a babby to adopt her name will bee Bailey and she will bee 1 month old. And glova gliter. And my ears to not hurt on the plan and off of the plan. And I wont have a ear infencin.

Love,
Mallory

Mallory's Christmas List

Not a list of what she wants from Santa, but a list of things to do to get ready for the holidays:

Put up the christmas tree

Put up the lights

Put up the avint callindr

get the candalls out

Cllen up

Rap the gifts up

Do some fun stuph

Mack cards

Have slipovers

Mack gift lists

Notes on the Christmas Pageants

Third grade is, apparently, the age at which it is no longer cool to be in a Christmas pageant.

Hence, second graders are more entertaining while singing in Latin (Magnificat) than are sixth graders singing in German (O Tannenbaum).

If you wish your scripture lessons to be read with feeling, volume, and articulation, do not choose seventh grade boys as your readers.

One wonders what the world has come to when there seem to be more video cameras in the audience than there are children on the stage.

The first graders, who sang "No room, no room, there is simply no room!" to the tune of "The First Noel" got the prize for the evening's comic relief.

There is nothing cuter than kindergarteners performing "Away in a Manger" in sign language.

It is all worth it, though, to see your very shy youngest daughter do all the moves to her "Elves and Shoemaker" dance and sing all the words to "Silent Night."

Anyone who chooses to teach music to young c…

My Favorite Photo

...which also sums up how I feel today. Wanting to take a long winter's nap. Wishing my kids still took naps. Wishing they were still small enough to cuddle like that. Waiting for Christmas to get here already.

Having a what-have-I-done moment

So apparently, I'm going to be a girl scout leader.

I'll wait while the laughter dies down.

My sister-in-law, in her infinite kindness, took Mallory to sign her up for Daisy Scouts last fall, the weekend I was in New York. Amy was told there was a huge shortage of Daisy Scout leaders and she said she was willing to help out. She was originally paired with another mom, but THAT mom dropped out, and so I stepped up, and our first meeting is Saturday.

I'm in a bit of a panic.

Things scout leaders should probably be good at:

Crafts
Organization
Dealing with people

Things I am not good at:

Crafts
Organization
Dealing with people

Luckily Amy is quite creative, and good at crafts, and probably nicer than me, so maybe we'll be okay.

Luckily Daisy Scouts are not required to sell cookies.

In part, I agreed to do this because I was afraid Mallory wouldn't stick with it unless I was there too. None of her friends ended up in her troop, and I haven't forgotten the twin disasters of Vacat…

Comfort and Joy

It was Christmas Eve, I was eleven or twelve. A few hours before our family festivities began, there was a knock on our door. It was a man who worked for my father, and I heard him tell Dad that he didn't have enough money to buy Christmas presents for his kids.

My dad didn't say a word. He walked to his desk, wrote out a check, and went back to the door. "Merry Christmas," he said, as he handed the man his money. Then he closed the door and went back to his chair.

I finished the Christmas cookie I'd been nibbling on. I smelled my mom's homemade apple pie, baking in the oven. I thought about the new dress I'd be wearing to church that night; I looked at the presents underneath our tree. I hope I realized, as I realize now, that it wasn't any of those things that made me one lucky kid.

Not what I had in mind

when I asked her to smile for the camera:



Our Christmas cards may be...interesting...this year.

Friday Favorite: My Penguin Osbert

I am deeply fond of penguins, and my house is littered with penguin figurines and penguin cookie jars and oh, I cannot count the number of penguin ornaments on my Christmas tree. I have never, however, wanted a penguin for a pet, and in this way I differ from both Mr. Popper, the hero of the first children's book about penguins that I ever read, and Joe, the hero of my new favorite children's book, My Penguin Osbert.

Joe has had his difficulties with Santa in the past; somehow he never manages to get exactly what he wants for Christmas. This year, he is painstakingly specific in his letter to Santa -- he requests a living, breathing, 12-inch-high penguin from Antartica. His name should be Osbert, Joe adds.

Joe is gratified to find the living, breathing Osbert under the tree on Christmas morning, but his excitement soon wanes when he discovers that Osbert likes to play in the snow -- all day long. And that Osbert likes to take really long, really cold baths -- with Joe. And tha…

Three Gifts

My mom was a teacher, and every holiday season she received dozens of gifts from her students – homemade bread and cookies, candles and bath salts, coffee mugs and ornaments. One year she came home with a figurine of a teddy bear. It wasn’t a Christmas-themed bear figurine, it was kind of smudged and dirty, the bear had a chip out of its ear. It was not a quality piece, in other words. My siblings and I examined it, and I don’t remember which of us said what we were all thinking: “That’s kind of a crummy gift, isn’t it? It’s not even new!”

My mom said, “You never know. This bear might have been that student’s prized possession, and she chose to give it to me.”

Sometimes the price of a gift is no reflection of its value.



One of my favorite Christmas songs is the Barenaked Ladies’ “Elf’s Lament,” in which an elf complains of being overworked and underpaid. Part of the chorus goes:

“Boys and girls, before you wish for what you wish for
There’s a list for who’s been naughty or nice
But conside…

Seven!

Seven years from here:



to here:



You used to sleep in the crook of my arm all night long. Now you're almost up to my chin. How did that happen?

You are a wonder. You are stubborn but kind-hearted, distractible but single-minded. You are inquisitive, but you know it all. You are sociable but shy; you are a big fibber who demands accuracy from everyone else. You are growing up, but still so innocent. You are completely familiar to me, but constantly surprising.

Sometimes I feel unequal to the challenge of parenting you, but I'm so glad that I was entrusted with you, beautiful girl. I miss the baby you were, but can't wait to see what happens as you grow. May your seventh birthday be all that you hoped it will be, and your seventh year be filled with luck and all good things.

Happy Birthday, Mallory. I love you.

Ask not for whom the cookie crumbles

I should have known, when I complained about having to make cookies for Mallory's classroom birthday treat, and then rejected someone's well-intentioned advice to send store-bought cookies on the grounds that homemade cookies were better -- I should have known that I would get my comeuppance. Comeuppance rarely thinks of the children.

Mallory looked through the cookie cookbook and selected refrigerator cookies. You know, butter, sugar, you make the dough, shape it into rolls, refrigerate it, and then slice it up and you get:



Except what I got was:



I couldn't send these misshapen blobs, these wafer-thin crepe-like objects, to school with Mallory. So I tried again. Chocolate chip cookies, with holiday M&Ms for added flair.

They, too, were disappointingly flat and crispy:



This happens to all my cookies, in fact. They spread too much, they flatten out, and in two days they're crumbly and dry as dust. Today I did some assiduous googling and discovered that my problem is butt…