Saturday, December 31, 2005

Praise God and Pass the Wellbutrin

Just a note to say that I'm toddling along here. Christmas and Chanukkah have been very nice. Thank God my MIL was here. She's a dear and kept things running along, and the girls love being spoiled by their Nana. I love being spoiled by her, too. There are two meatloafs, a leg of lamb, and a kugel in the fridge.

I hate New Year's--not much of one for optimistic new beginnings. I do have one plan for the year. I joined a Yahoo group called Lectio Divina. The name's a bit of a misnomer, since we'll be reading through the Bible in a year, which seems a pretty rapid clip for actual Lectio Divina. It should be interesting, since the participants are all over the board, including a few pagans.

DramaQueen's sixth birthday is approaching. I finally settled on having a party in a pottery place, because it relieves me from practically all planning and hosting duties, except chasing down the parents of invited kids, because no one every bothers to RSVP. The woman who runs the pottery shop cheered me with the story of a little boy who had his party there and absolutely NO ONE showed up, not even his dad. It doesn't help that I've never met any of DramaQueen's classmates or their parents. Hurrah, with a new year begins new vacation and sick leave. Maybe I'll actually get to participate in a school activity, unless Firecracker decides on her annual February stay at the hospital.

Oh, and in a moment of weakness and financial panic I took on an editing project, when all I'd like to do is soak in a hot tub and read one of my Christmas presents, Red Moon Rising.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers. I've had problems off and on with depression since my teens. After I had kids, I discovered that it's really easy to not notice when you're depressed. You have to focus so much on other people that the warning signs get buried in the day to day. I've also discovered that switching from one anti-depressant to another can be a real bitch.

Tonight, I plan to savor the leftover eggnog, with a splash of brandy. That should help the editing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Too depressed to post for a few days. Please send up a prayer when you have a chance.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

DramaQueen and Firecracker

Lorna suggested that I explain why I’ve given my five-year-old and three-year-old the blog names DramaQueen and Firecracker.  So here goes.

DramaQueen is actually taking a drama class, for which she is well suited.  Her instructor tells us that she has given herself a new name—Chloe—and a vocation—Rock Star.  Being a rock star to her means playing guitar. So far singing, although she likes to sing, is not her thing.  She likes to dance, too, and wants to learn hip-hop.  We’re waiting for a windfall of money so we can enroll her in all the music and dance classes she wants to take.  Besides being Chloe, she sometimes asks me to call her Jessica.  DramaQueen loves to be photographed. She’ll pose for you. She’ll pose for herself in the mirror.  She loves clothes, and already has definite ideas about what looks good on her.  She likes to make people laugh, and she’s happy to be the cut-up, the center of attention. Usually. She can also be shy, and sometimes she can play up being shy.  She also loves drawing and all things artsy, as long as I don’t try to force-feed her anything with my own arts education agenda.  If she is at a loss for what to DO, it is a TRAGEDY.  She drapes herself over the sofa, “Mom, what can I DO now?”  She has always been running ahead of herself, ever since she was born.  She came out of my womb with muscular little legs, as if she had been doing squats for nine months.  And indeed within hours she was trying to push off with her legs.  By nine months she was walking.  She’s eager to be 7, and 17, and she likes attaching herself to older girls (poor things, they seem to be very kind to her) but is not so eager to be an adult, since we all seem rather dreary (need to work on that, I guess).  She wanted to know if she could go right to first grade when she turns 6 this January.  She is very protective of Firecracker, despite the fact that Firecracker frequently annoys the living daylights out of her.

Firecracker is an enchanting child, the kind that caretakers connect with immediately. She is very affectionate, offering smiles, hugs and cuddles with abandon.  When she laughs, her whole body shakes, and her laughter sounds like bubbles floating into the air.  But don’t cross her.  Don’t rush her.  And yes, she WILL do it herself, and if you do it she’ll undo it and do it again HERSELF.  Her temper is daunting.  She requires special handling, because she does not make transitions very easily.  Her expressive language skills lag behind her comprehension, and she is often frustrated trying to make herself understood. I’m convinced that her temper helped her survive. She was born severely premature at 28 weeks. She weighed a mere 1 lb 14 oz, not much bigger than the Beanie Babies the NICU nurses used to prop up her tubes.  Even though premies this early and even earlier have increasingly high survival rates, doctors are very skittish, and the two months Firecracker was in the NICU, several babies died. Firecracker was known for her feistiness.  She had to have surgery to close the PDA valve in her heart, and the surgeon warned us that the anesthesia would probably render her motionless for a day or two, and not to worry.  Well, just two hours after surgery she was kicking the Beanie Babies out of her incubator, probably pissed off about the uncomfortable incision under her shoulder.  Firecracker likes toy cars and trains and baby dolls and being tickled.

Those are our girls, our wonderful, funny, rambunctious, infuriating, lovable girls.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Night of 1000 Lights

This weekend we finally made use of the gift certificate Dear Husband won for a night at the Emerald Pointe Resort on Lake Lanier.  This was to have been a romantic getaway, but we decided instead to take the girls so they could see the light display and have breakfast with Santa.  From the moment we got there, DramaQueen wanted to know what we were going to DO.  From next door wafted the strains of a Hillary Duff song, which DramaQueen picked up on immediately. She began to hang outside our door watching the comings and goings of the ‘tweens staying there. At one point she actually sat on a chair outside their room until they invited her in. But I get ahead of myself.

Because we needed something to DO before dark, I took the girls off in search of the “playground” mentioned on the map. The “playground” turned out to be two swings and a metal slide, cunningly situated so that you could trip on the roots if you did anything you might actually do on a playground, like run, or jump off the swings. Or walk. After we had exhausted the novelty of the playground, it was, thankfully, time to drag Dear Husband out of a nap and head for Santa’s Village and the lights. The light display was loads of fun, and even better because we didn’t have to pay for it or wait in line. Last year we waited three or four hours to get in. We only waited that long because we had no idea how far away we were, and for long stretches there was no where to turn around.

Anyway, we saw poinsettias and advent candles, elves, deer, The Wizard of Oz, The Twelve Days of Christmas (which I had to sing), golfers, gingerbread houses, and loads of other light sculptures.  The girls had a blast.

When we returned to our hotel room, DramaQueen wanted to know what we were going to DO. Firecracker kept her coat on because she wanted to go Home and pitched quite a fit until I recommended a bath, which is one of her favorite things. Happily, Dear Husband went off to the bar and brought back for me a white Russian. A double.

The next morning we had breakfast with Santa. This was a large buffet of every breakfast food available and, best of all, really good coffee.  The girls fueled up with pancake syrup (I kid you not; I glanced over at one point to find Firecracker drinking hers from its little cup). Both girls were very excited when Santa made his way over. He looked surprisingly calm. I don’t remember what the girls asked for. DramaQueen has started asking for a sleigh bell, so I suppose I’m going to have to get one now.  

When we got home, Firecracker refused to get out of the car, because she wanted to go back. DramaQueen wanted to know what we were going to DO.

The Name Game

I’ve been referring to our two daughters as Five-year-old and Three-year old in my posts, but since they will both soon celebrate birthdays, I think it is time for more descriptive names. Henceforth, Five-year-old and Three-year-old will be known as DramaQueen and Firecracker.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Random Notes and Two Prayer Requests

We still haven’t made the gingerbread house. Sigh.

We’ve made a lot of messes, though.

I want to trade lives with Jo(e) for a few weeks.

Our office is full of FOOD.

Jeff is in a lot of pain because I forgot to bring his meds to the Christmas party. So today I’m lugging around a big load of guilt, which won’t do him any good.  Please keep him in your prayers.

My workplace has taken under its wing a single mom with two boys--a nine-year-old and a newborn--and no job. Please pray for Sandra, and pray that we will demonstrate the love of Christ in all we do for her. Most of her family is in Portugal, and it must be pretty lonely during the holidays with a new baby and a lot of worry.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A meme floating around the blogosphere

Five random facts about myself:

1. My real name is not Alice.
2. I grew up in South Georgia.
3. I like big cities.
4. I love Victorian novels. Dickens, George Eliot, Trollope, Charlotte Bronte, Gissing. Love that stuff.
5. I like Pre-Raphaelite art, because the artists were all crazy as coots.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Let It Snow--The Friday Five

1) Snow: love it or hate it? I love snow! However, although I’ve lived where it snows, I’ve never lived where it SNOWS.  Not sure how much I would enjoy living where you have to plug in your car so the battery will start.
2) First snow memory. I was 6, I think, when we got one of the rare snows to ever make its way to South Georgia.  I remember my parents getting me up so that I could go outside first thing, in my nightgown, and touch it.  I was so happy.  I had never seen the world look so beautiful and peaceful.  The snow created a hush, a calm. I went for a walk in the woods (by woods I mean the patch of trees that separated our straggly neighborhood from another straggly neighborhood—we lived in a failed suburbia) and it was if I had walked into a storybook. All the dreary ugliness was hidden beneath beauty.
3) Best Snow Day ever (actual or imagined). When I lived in New York, there was an enormous snow. When the plows came through to clear the streets, they created huge walls of snow that you had to scale to reach the sidewalk from the street.  I was in Park Slope, approaching a corner where there was a church with wedding guests hovering around the entrance. The groom was carrying the bride over the bank of snow to put her in the limo. It may have been that same winter there was an ice storm. I went for a walk in Prospect Park. All the trees were encased in ice, and they made an eerie tinkling sound as they moved in the wind. I had never seen such a thing before.
4) Best use of snow in a movie, song, book or poem. I have two images: John Huston’s film The Dead and the final scenes of House of Flying Daggers. I don’t know that these are the best, but they are among the first that spring to mind.
5) What you are planning to do today, with or without snow. Finish work and meet my husband to see Harry Potter! Our daycare is having a parents’ night out.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Material Christmas

I’m trying to imagine a Christmas without commercialism. You know what? Can I admit this? (In a whisper) I’m not sure I like it.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve revealed my shallow materialism.

My fondest Christmas memories, the ones that stick with me, are filled with “material.” The glass ornaments so old that the paint was scratched off in places. Bubble lights. The little pine-cone and pipe cleaner elves that I adored. A snow globe that eventually dropped its water level but until then offered a glimpse into an enchanted village. The red bobble-head dog that came from who knows where but joined us every year. Our tree, which even though it was artificial had the most wonderful smell to me—slightly musty from storage, slightly metallic from adhering tinsel.  Waiting for Santa was the most magical time, the most splendid magnificent time. The world changed and lit up. Everything was preparing for, moving toward, converging on this most incredible day.  And on Christmas morning wonderful gifts magically appeared. You never knew what might be there.

When I lived in New York, I loved walking past the sweet-spicy trees sold from sidewalk vendors, and looking at the elaborate displays in store windows. People walked by briskly with shopping bags as well as brief cases.  Steam curled from carts selling roasted chestnuts, and the scent of vanilla drifted off the carts selling sugared almonds.

I love gift-wrap, ribbon, bows, and glitter. I love toys. I like seeing children standing in line excited to visit Santa. I like the angels of light on the lampposts of Maine St. Suwanee. I like seeing the houses where people have gone nuts with lights and decorations. I like the special smells in candle and toiletry stores—evergreen, cranberry, gingerbread, peppermint.

Yes, people are running up debt chasing an illusion. Yes, the material will never fill our hearts. Yes we pile toys under the tree to make up for a year of benign neglect. We are selfish, grasping, greedy, indulgent. Where in all of this is Christ? Where He always is, I suppose, in the middle of everything. There is something about our extravagance, our over-reaching desire to celebrate something, anything, an idea, a faint glimmer of something we once heard, that moves me.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Five going on fifteen

We made a trek to Lenox Mall yesterday to ride the Pink Pig. Normally I try to avoid malls during Christmas. I like stuff, and I don’t like being enticed into wanting even more stuff. And of course I don’t like having my kids enticed into wanting stuff, even if its wonderful educational cool stuff. But the Pink Pig benefits Children’s Healthcare, and since Three-year-old has made us very familiar with their facilities, we like the idea of donating to them. Of course getting to the Pink Pig meant navigating a sea of stressed shoppers with my little loose cannons, and since I never get to this particular mall, I inevitably ended up doing dumb things, like taking two children into the Discovery Channel store.  A foolish sales clerk allowed Five-year-old to try out a remote controlled UFO thingee, which she steered into several heads before handing over the controls.  Five-year-old, who has decided she wants to be a rock star, then found the keyboards and toy guitars and started belting out a Hilary Duff song at the top of her lungs into the keyboard mike. No doubt everyone enjoyed this mightily.

Further along, while we were waiting for Dear Husband to emerge from one store, Five-year-old informed me that she was going to run into the Gymboree store to check out the clothes, and she did.  I have the only five-year-old I know who LIKES getting clothes for presents. I find this a little unnerving.  It’s not that she doesn’t like toys, but most of the toys she likes are related in some way to “Fashion.” She wants Barbies and Bratz dolls.  She is very concerned about the way her clothes look.  She poses. She wants makeup, for pete’s sake.  

We went into Sephora to get makeup for me, and you would have thought we had just gone into a candy store.  She was enthralled.  I was pretty happy myself, because everything looks like so much FUN.  With makeup lines called Hard Candy and Urban Decay, and bath products that smell like sugar cookies and gingerbread, I was practically drooling.  Still, in my day-to-day life, I tend to forget about makeup and jewelry (I like dangly earrings) for months on end (much to the disgust of Dear Husband, who thinks I tend to look pretty shabby).  Five-year-old pestered me to try on eye shadow and nail polish, and by the end of the visit was grousing about the unfairness of it all.  So tell me, is she five, or fifteen?

She also told me that she is going to collect bangles.  Bangles. Not dolls, bugs (well, that was a long shot), rocks, stamps, stickers, or beads.  Bangles.  Dear Husband, being the sucker (oops, I mean, sweet father) he is, gave here a few inexpensive bangles from Icing.  She’s taking them to Show and Tell.  I’m sure her teacher will be thrilled.

Oh, and I think the Pink Pig was probably pretty fun. I don’t know. I hid in the gift shop.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Five: Decorations

1) Do you display a nativity scene, and if so, where?  We don’t have a nativity scene, although I’ve thought of getting a kid-friendly one.  We don’t have much surface space on which to display one, so it would have to go on the floor somewhere, which is probably asking for trouble.
2) Do you put a skirt under the Christmas tree? If so, what does it look like? OH, we just got a new skirt on sale from Pier 1, and it’s beeeeutifiul. It’s a patchwork of multicolored silk and velvet squares.  Last year I made the mistake of getting one of those little dollar skirts, the ones that feel like dryer lint but are white and sparkly. Well, the cats took care of that real quick, and soon it looked like real dryer lint.
3) Do you hang lights on the house or put them in your windows? We have some lights around the faux French doors (the apts we live in have one door next to a floor-length window that can’t open. Can you say “cheap”?).
4) White lights or colored lights on the tree? Big bulbs or the small, pretty ones? We have white lights on the tree, the little non-blinking ones.  We have white because the last two years we decorated the tree mostly with silver and purple. We may switch to something else next year.
5) Do you have a tree topper? What sort? Who puts it on top of the tree? Our tree topper this year is a simple wooden star that Five-year-old made with popsicle sticks. She added silver paint and some glitter.  She was very pleased that we put it on top. Usually whatever we buy as a tree topper won’t stay put on our artificial tree. Dear Husband put it on top because he’s tall.

Last year my MIL got the girls a felt Countdown to Christmas tree. There are little fabric decorations to add each day of December until Christmas.  It plays Jingle Bells when you press it tree-topper star, which I thankfully only learned about this Christmas.

We also celebrate Channukah, and have a lovely traditional menorah.  Last year Five-year-old and I tried a craft project making one with baby-food jars, glass paint, and florists beads.  If anyone ever suggests this craft to you, run.  I’m still finding those florists beads.