And the Stockings were Sorted

My school district closes for the entire week of Thanksgiving.  Cody and Carter’s school, however, is open Monday and Tuesday.  This means that I had two days off with no kids around the house.  Very nice.

I did the typical things – laundry, lesson planning, lunch out with Husband (hooray!) – and some atypical things – reading in the sunny backyard, locating and lugging out of our storage unit all our Christmas things I so missed last year when we lived in the apartment.

Christmas in my Car

Feeling a bit Christmassy and with half a day of alone time on my hands, I decided to go stocking stuffer shopping.  I love stocking stuffers.  They are by far my favorite thing about Christmas.  I like buying them, I like wrapping them, I like putting them in the stockings, and I love watching people reach into an almost magical never-ending depth of a soft red stocking to pull out the little wrapped gifts.

Stockings are a perfect end to the traditions of our family Christmas (we are the people who open gifts on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Morning there are one or two gifts from Santa and the stockings, also from the jolly rotund fellow.)  The morning is mellow, the large, loudly colored and beeping toys have all been opened the night before.  The small gifts found in the stockings are simple, useful, or tasty snacks.  They are the surprising little twinkling bursts of purple, red, or blue after a large and loud firework.

It is the day before Thanksgiving and the stocking stuffers have been purchased and sorted.  Never have I been one to be ahead of the game when it comes to Christmas.  So yeah, I am feeling a big smug.

Sorted Stocking Stuffers

In an effort to deflect any interest the boys may have if they were to look up at the top shelf in our closet, I have labeled them according to size instead of using names. Carter is big, Cody is bigger, and Husband is biggest.

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Simple Sunday – Practicing Wearing Pants

The mornings have become cold here in Arizona.  The temperatures have been in the low 40’s when I drop the boys off at their school.

And still, they do not want to wear pants.  Finally I insisted.

So Carter wears pants on the weekends, “practicing wearing pants”, in preparation for the school week.

He continues to tell me that he would rather wear “short pants” but my momma guilt is strong and he will not win.

At least not this round.

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The Substance of Grief

This morning, the first day after the day of the death of my father-in-law, I found myself trying to define the sense and complexity of grief.

What could I use to define it?  Grief is a long list of adjectives and those adjectives very neatly contradict each other.  It can be heavy.  It can be light.  It can be overpowering or something lingering and vague.

I finally settled on the idea that grief is perhaps simply a substance just like any other substance.  Grief, as a substance or a form of matter, can take the form of a solid, a liquid, or a gas (yes, if you want to get technical there is also plasma and a couple other states that occur in very rare situations but let us not consider those at this time).

Sometimes grief is a solid.  It is heavy.  It is constricting.  It pushes the air out of your lungs and keeps you from taking a proper breath.

Sometimes grief is fluid.  It flows like a fresh water stream into the salty vastness of the sea.  It can drown you.

And sometimes grief is a gas that can be compressed, forced into hiding so no one can see it.  At the same time it can expand and take over the entire space of your life.  It is wispy and ungraspable.  Maddening.

That is it.  My definition of my grief.  It can elude you in one moment and in the next it can sucker punch you in the gut.

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Simple Sunday – The Small in the Vast

We went on a hike in the desert mountain range near our house today.  I took many pictures looking across the vastness of the city surrounding us.

But what I saw looking down, just off the edge of the trail, somehow holds more than the distance and depth of the view looking out.

Looking down

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The First, but I Suspect, not the Last

Apparently sometime last week, Cody did not eat his snack.  It simply stayed put, forgotten in the dark recesses of the outer pocket of his new backpack.

That is, until tonight.

It took me several minutes to determine what it was I was looking at.

Ah, a banana.  Or what used to be a banana.  It was now a rather offensive brown moist paste, dried around the edges and pealing off in chunky hunks.  It was smeared throughout the entire pocket, oozing from within the inside hidden pockets within the pocket, including in between the teeth of the zipper.  At least it didn’t smell.  Much.

I was more exasperated than anything and so directed Cody to a roll of paper towels and suggested he wet the towels before scraping out the brown paste.  Yuck!

He worked at it a few minutes and then, breathlessly announced that he had to stop because he was afraid he would throw up.  I nodded.  He has put in his time.

I don’t think I made it quite as long as he did before my gag reflex started to kick in.

All I can say is that I am very thankful for Spray n Wash and our poor, poor washing machine.

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Simple Sunday – Soda Fountain Smiles

Happiness is…

Happiness is

a root beer float.

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Day after Halloween Car Conversations

cody:  Carter, wouldn’t it be soooo cooool if we were in an accident and after the airbags inflated and saved us, they popped open and they were filled with candy?!?

I don’t know about you all, but immediately after a high speed head-on collision, I want nothing more than a box of rainbow nerds and a couple mini 100 Grand bars.

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Simple Sunday – Trick or Treating Husband Style

Trick or Treating Loot

This is the loot Cody came home with after a long night of trick or treating with his brother and Husband.  Do you see three things that are not like the others?

I had spend the entire day in bed feeling like crap (sore throat, weak, general all over blah (ok, I did get up only once to use the bathroom and track down a ginger ale)).

Apparently after handing out candy at our house (the boys dressed in costume and husband projecting scary ghost images on the outside of our house along with spooky music and our firepot blazing), they went for what Husband thought would be a quick spin around the block to collect some candy.

They were gone for hours.

They hit some houses.  Got some candy.  The typical T or T routine.  Then they stumbled into a mini party with kids playing and adults hanging out eating and drinking.  They stayed for a time.  Then they moved on to another part of the neighborhood.  They found another party.  More kids playing – sword fights – and more adult libations – Four Peaks Beer.  They stayed and played.

And so it was that while I slept the day and night away, Husband and the boys partied into the night.  They made friends and connections in our neighborhood and had some treats as well.

Oh, and here is the answer key for those of you who need it.

Modified Loot Picture

For those of you who celebrated Halloween, I hope you had safe and fun tricks, tasty treats and had the chance to make some great new memories.

Now it is back to bed for me.

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Memories with a Side of Spice Cake

Tuesday would have been my dad’s 81st birthday.  It has been three and a half years since he died.  Cody was in Kindergarten and Carter was a preschooler.  Their memories of him, I’m afraid, are mostly built upon photographs and the spoken remembrances of others.

I am not sure quite why, but this year I decided to make my dad’s favorite cake.  The cake my mom made for him every year.  It is a simple spice cake with homemade penuche, or brown sugar, frosting.

I mentioned the fact that I was going to make a cake for Grandpa’s birthday on our way home from school Monday night.  Carter asked me if he thought I would be sad, throwing a party for someone I loved but was dead and therefore could not come to the party.  Apparently, one can not make a cake unless there is a party at which it is to be eaten.  I told him it was not a party, but more of a time to remember and to enjoy a tasty treat that was one of Grandpa’s favorites.

Spice Cake Collage

I was just dishing up the last slice and Carter was eager to dig in, his fork halfway to his mouth, when Cody spoke up.  He thought it would be nice to take a moment to go around the table, clock-wise (ah, my detail oriented child!), and to share a memory of Grandpa.

And so we did.  And then we ate cake.  It was not a party; it was better than a party.  It was a nice way to honor the memory of my father and to grow and strengthen Cody and Carter’s memories of their Grandpa.

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Simple Sunday – Lost in the Corn Maze

Today we went a pumpkin patching.  There were bouncy houses, tall tube slides, hay rides, a petting zoo, and a corn maze.  It was a good time although I have to admit that the corn maze gave me a bit of a fright.

No, I was not worried about getting lost in the corn, or really even loosing Cody and/or Carter in the twists and turns.  It was the fact that I had forgotten to ask before we were deep within the maze, forgot to ask if either of the boys had to use the bathroom.  It ended up being a non issue, but the thought did stay at the forefront of my mind until we were safely out of the field.

Corn Maze

Here is a picture of the view from the inside, looking up.

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