Christmas Apologies

I hear the song “Christmas Time is Here” several times a week—almost daily—during the month of December. My special needs son is a Peanuts head. He has perfect pitch and a great talent for mimicking voices. Next time you want to hear Charlie Brown music, just ask. He serenaded my friend thing morning… No, the singing isn’t what I want to apologize for. (Unless, uh… it really hurts your ears.) I would like to confess a prior judgmental attitude. I’ve freed myself of it and wish to publicly say I’m sorry. I came to the realization of the errors of my thinking a couple years ago, but still held on to that “it won’t be me” attitude. I’M SORRY TO ALL THOSE PEOPLE OVER THE COURSE OF MY LIFETIME THAT I THOUGHT REALLY DIDN’T CARE BECAUSE THEY ONLY GAVE ME A CHRISTMAS CARD WITH THEIR NAMED SIGNED IN IT! There. It’s out. I judged. And now I am guilty of the same offense—even worse! This year I handed out/mailed a pre-printed Kodak Christmas card (with my kidlets picture on it, of course) to 98% of the people on my list. I didn’t even have to sign my name on it—I only addressed the envelopes! And I didn’t do a year-in-review family letter to go with it. Yes, it’s been sneaking up on me. Here’s my sad tale: Once upon a time, I mulled over a personalized paragraph for each recipient of a Christmas card. After one child, the cards just had a couple lines—and a wallet-sized photo of the darling kidlet. Two kids = bigger photo and maybe a sentence in greeting/closing. Three kids = a half-way decent picture of the three of them or all separate on a collage picture card if they weren’t cooperative… and about half the people on the list got an actual paper card as well. Here’s a sample from 2009, doctored to protect the innocent:

This year is the year of the photo card, with few exceptions. Maybe it’s the wordsmith in me, but I used to think that if someone didn’t care enough to at least write me a little note, why bother to give me the card. I showed them love and appreciation by writing them a few words of reflection or hope—wasn’t I worth that effort on their part? So, yeah… Life happens. My daily list of tasks to accomplish swells. As I mature, my ability to love grows and my circle of family and friends expands with that love. AND I DO CARE, EVEN IF I DIDN’T SIGN MY NAME! In closing I want your thoughts. Is it better to keep a circle small in order to pad a Christmas card with words or share a short greeting (or three smiling faces) with a wider group of people?

Christmas Time is Here

The juggling routine is improving. I’ve managed to write several pages this week, on both fiction and non-fiction projects. Hooray for me!
The things I’ve been reading on the side are:
Teach Meby R.A. Nelson

For my fluffy book (I have to indulge myself every so often) I just started The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. YA historical but I had to try to book just based on the cover. I’ve had my eyes on it since it came out.

And then there is the December issue of the Ensign magazine, in which a small article of mine was published.Check it out at: lds.org/churchmagazines/EN_2010_12_25___09212_000_037.pdf

This is my second paid for/published item. My first was a personal essay in the final issue of TALL magazine back in 2005. If there is an interest (be sure to vote on the side bar) I’ll post that essay on here next time.
My plan is to attempt to finish the first draft of Corroded by the end of the year but I’m not going to let it bother me if that doesn’t happen. I also need to finish a magazine article that is already accepted by the National Association of Retail Buyers (NARB) for publication in their March 2011 feature.
Which reminds me, I didn’t want the month to pass without posting a MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone. The kids and I have been enjoying the season including special crafts, driving at night to look for lights, and Christmas music (the favorite among the younger crowd is the Charlie Brown Christmas album). This is the only Christmas my children will be 12, 5, and 2 so I plan on enjoying it, no matter what else is going on in my world.

Five Second Rule

I’ve been in the midst of a transitional period for the past few weeks. Once again, it’s necessary to play the part of a juggler as my responsibilities shift, the weight of new expectations ruining the balance of my old schedule.

I tossed the objects into the air one at a time. Family first, of course. I wouldn’t feel the need to find the harmony of a well balanced life if it wasn’t for my family. I like to think I’d be a happy hermit among bookshelves, somewhere that the air is crisp and the scenery predominately green. Alas, family demands me to live in a hectic here and now.
Then came homeschooling, which is a different aspect of family—or rather the core of having children in the home. The more I teach, and the more I learn, the more I love it. The added bonus: it’s a good excuse to acquire even more books.
Of course, there was also Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations that needed attention. I even managed to finish a scarf for myself, so I can move on to the next project to be gifted. And I didn’t give up reading. Here’s a sampling of the past month:

(I was lucky enough to meet Laurie on November 18th—for the second time—while she was on tour to support this new release. She’s wonderful!)
Next came the earth ball of the juggling world: serving as Primary President (Jr. Sunday School) for my church’s local congregation. This is something I’ve done for many years, but have enjoyed a lovely 23 months hiatus while serving as the building’s librarian. In the library there isn’t much take home work to do—the bulk of my calling was fulfilled during church hours on the Sabbath. But now I’m working more than twelve hours a week, both the time at church—caring for the needs of over fifty children and a dozen fellow workers—plus the planning, pondering, and praying that goes along with it. The benefits are wonderful, though. Volunteer work is fulfilling on many levels and church duties are no exception, especially when children are involved! Once the new leadership (that’s counting myself) settles into a routine, and the plans for switching classes in 2011 are arranged, the time involved will reduce by about half.
But for over a week I’ve neglected to pick-up an important ball.
It’s down and rolling away.
But I just stopped it with my foot and am ready to pop it back into the air like a hacky sack. The ball is writing and my WIP, Corroded, is smudged from neglect. Time to stretch the five second rule to a ten day rule and juggle for my own sanity.

Visions of clutter danced in her head…

Why is it that whenever I try to organize my desk I end up with more piles of stuff to go through than before? I’ve allowed the papers and books that need filing and sorting to pile up over the last few weeks. Because of the clutter I’ve avoided my desk the last five days. Sunday night I decided to tackle the issue after I got the kids to sleep. I’m down to three semi-orderly stacks.
On top of the regular mess are stacks of Christmas cards, Christmas stationary, and Christmas coloring/activity books for the kids.
I remember the days when I’d have all my Christmas envelopes addressed before Thanksgiving. I don’t even have a great picture of the kids to order prints from. And I can’t decide if I’ll be doing standard cards or Christmas letters or photo cards.
About the photo experiences I mentioned last week—my high hopes were shattered. A toddler is harder than an infant needing support! Plus, when I’d say someone’s name to get them to look at me the other two would look at the one I called, not at the camera. At least I know they all can smile and look at the camera… just not at the same time!

Kodak Moments

This week I have the daunting task of taking a group shot of the kids. Not just any shot, but one that’s worthy to stuff inside countless Christmas cards and hang on the bulletin board at the pediatrician’s office.
Taking a picture of one child is easy.
Two kids, not so bad.
Three makes me appreciate the freedom and cost saving benefits of a digital camera.
Last year I took close to a hundred pictures over two separate days. I quit before tears could turn to wailing—several of us were on the verge of crying. I settled for a picture that none of them were blinking, and the boys were both smiling and looking at the camera. The princess, well, she was looking at the Christmas tree. Mental note- stand in front of the tree when trying to get a baby’s attention.
Here’s a sample of one of the better pictures, altered to protect the guilty and for therapeutic reasons:

Yes, I caught the baby before she fell over!
I think this year will be slightly easier. Last year I was dealing with a princess who had to be held by her brother and a year-three-old. Is it just me or are three-year-olds more “terrible” than two-year-olds?
This year it’s eleven years, four years, and fourteen months. It could result in extra pain and suffering, since the youngest is now able to run away, but I’m going to keep my expectations high.
I might even attempt to take the picture while on an outing to our favorite location. That would mean dressing the kids in respectable clothing and keeping them clean while we tramp around in search of the perfect photo spot. Visions of Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit setting her kittens loose in the garden while she finishes preparing tea come to mind.
Might need to rethink that idea…