Friday, December 25, 2009

Great Expectations

When you think of Christmas, what pops into your head? Visions of sugar plums? Romantic notions of sleigh rides? Now that may be a bit out dated, along with caroling or rides on a toboggan. But most of us have our traditions, things we like to do that make Christmas special. We have it all mapped out in our heads.

I enjoy seeing the Christmas lights, and was so pleased this year to see so many more up. We had the benefit of an unseasonably warm November, and no longer the fear of impossible electric bills, so many people were out on Thanksgiving weekend, in our sultry 40 some degree weather, putting up lights. My heart rejoiced. It's truly adds an element of festiveness to the air.

Some enjoy holiday parties, decorating the tree, the shop til you drop, making cookies with the kids, small town festivities, kids' Christmas programs, Christmas cards, hot cocoa, cozying up in front of the fireplace, snow, snow men, snow angels, snow balls. Of coarse we can't forget the reason for the season with candle lit services, advent calendars, manger scenes and Christmas carols. Each person, each family, old or new, thinks, remembers, plans, anticipates life in this season based on these things. It's all so romantic in our minds, isn't it? All glowy and warm. Ahhhh...

(insert screeching car noises here)

Welcome to my Christmas 2009.

The shopping complicated by four young souls, the work schedules, the weather, the... the list goes on.

Our great expectations sometimes kill our joy. Especially if you're a perfectionist or an idealist. Unlike myself, of coarse. Ahem. When I was a kid, I always felt the burden of Christmas, the weight of expectations. Call it the oldest child syndrome (nothing to do with you, mom). Wanting to make sure everyone was taken care of, attemping to ward off disappointment or snaffoos. An inflated sense of responsibility. I have (sort of) moved past that and since found the joy in the purpose of the season. But sometimes those expectations, on Christmas, birthdays, or the many other times we get notions in our head, threaten to ruin it all for me. It is then that I gotta get a GRIP on myself, take a deep breath, and lay it all down. I have to learn to accept what is, roll with the punches, go with the flow, come what may. I accept defeat, do what I can, and the rest, fugeddaboutit. Ain't no thang.

So Blizzard of Christmas 2009, phooey on you. Lack of energy and patience, sooorryyyy. I almost let you bury me in drearyness and snow, but I was saved by The Clash (thank you James on FB) (Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble. An’ if I stay it will be double. So come on and let me know! Should I stay or should I go?) (please tell me you know that one.) I had yelled at my kids, missed out on the Christmas eve service, didn't get to spend the Eve with my King Kong, and left a house so dirty the rats would have feasted well should they have come. Thieves would have thought our house had already been ransacked, and left. Nevertheless, I got myself (and monkeys) packed up, out the door, and on the road to a new plan. I had a little cry, finished (most of) my shopping at 5:54 pm (Walmart closed at 6), apologized to my kids, had a glass of wine, and had a sleep over at my parents' house. I had a good Christmas anyway, albeit not according to plan. When I woke up, the snow was still there, my hubs was too, the kids slept in til 9, and it was still the day of the birth of My King and Saviour, whom subsequently also died for me.  That is the part we so easily lose sight of. I so easily lose sight of.

Next year I vow to do better. Not to shop earlier or plan ahead better. Not to make foolproof plans and make sure vacation days are taken. Nope. Instead I hope to remember more a baby that was born. In a nowhere place, with nothing but love and adoration. A baby who brought hope and peace and forgiveness to the world is what I should spend my time thinking on, and teaching my monkeys about. Not the best gifts or the best cookies or the most memorable of holiday activities. It would be nice to get the tree decorated, but, eh, whatever.

Joy to the World, the Lord has come! Let me recieve her King; Let my heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature sing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Niggling, because it's a funny word.

A friend of mine's neice wrote this poem. I'm not entirely sure what it's titled, but the one I got was:

Twas three weeks til Christmas - an Advent poem
Twas three weeks til Christmas, and all through my house,
Nothing was ready, including my spouse.
The gifts are not bought, the decorations still packed,
And all I could think of was what I still lacked.

I’ve cards and letters to write, and laundry to do,
And cooking and cleaning and avoiding the flu,
And traffic is bad, and airlines are worse,
Not to mention the dozen new songs to rehearse.

There are parties, and sweaters, sales in the stores!
Snow to be shoveled and bills to ignore,
Guests coming early and work deadlines late,
The feeling there’s rather too much on my plate.

Then there’s the news, all sadness and crime,
And war, and economy and political slime,
And homeless and jobless and hopeless galore,
And the niggling doubt that we need something more.

I need a space of quiet retreat,
A chance to remember what makes us complete.
And I know its not jewelry or candy or toys,
But how do I block out all of this noise?

How do I hear that one lonely call
Up out of the wild, a message for all?
That somehow beyond the mountains of debt,
Through the valleys of fear and doubt and regret,

Past the culture that claims to know our whole worth
And tallies the cost to our death from our birth,
Beyond a world hell bent on a wealthy façade
To silence the voice crying out for our God,

Against the Caesar of power and the titan of greed,
The warmonger’s profit and progress’ speed,
Lies the whisper “repentance”, a confession-command
From the crazy-man John in the old holy land.

A call to remember our sins and repent
To open our hearts to the love that was spent,
And urge us to dismantle the wealthy façade
So that all may see the Salvation of God.
Today I was overwhelmed at all the demands upon me, I just wanted to escape. I wanted to escape from my children, from the holiday pressure, from my bad attitude and lowly spirit. I wanted that "space of quiet retreat." With the pressures of making the holiday special, perfect, or fun, feeling guilty that I'm too tired to do all (or anything) that I want and wondering what memories are my children building this Christmas, this spoke to me in many lines. I know what the holiday is about, and what it isn't about, but it's hardly my focus. I have been feeling like I'm drowning in "traditions" that I'm too tired to accomplish. And through it all, wondering, "where is my joy," "where is my thankfulness for the gift that was given to me, the Salvation of God?"

After reading this again today, I sat in a dark room, alone, and cried. And cried and cried. All that is not what God expects from me. It's what I expect from me. The joy in this is, I get that. Not that I am lifting the burden yet off myself. But at least I know I can.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Virally Not Me. *UPDATED*

Since we're all viral here this week, I figured I'd jump in again on the viral band wagon of MckMama's Not Me, Monday post. Since it's been a while and all.

We do NOT have boogers abound  in our house. I did NOT just have a monkey use me as his wiping pad, leaving a streak a mile long on my fresh, clean, new sweater. Oh, yeah! Stylin'!

It is NOT a virtual germ-fest over here. On Friday, at George's birthday slumber party, when we figured out he was probably coming down with strep throat, we most certainly called each and every parent right away. We would NEVER allow the guests to stay because one of them was already on antibiotics for this very thing, and the other, well, we WOULDN'T have figured he'd already been exposed and what would another hour or so hurt.

Oh, and in talking about the birthday party... It would NOT have been my children who stripped down butt naked in front of their friends, to change into their pajamas. I would NOT then realize that I need to have a talk about privacy and proper dressing etiquete. Ahem.

The next day, I rushed George right in to Urgent Care the minute it opened. I would NEVER dilly-dally so long, and mistake the time it closed for a later hour, that when we did arrive it would be closed.

I did NOT want to just send him to school today anyway, despite the 24 hr rule. (I didn't.)

In fear of more viruses, I did NOT call Pediatrics at 8:02 this morning to schedule an appointment, and then, when I woke up and had sense enter my brain, call an hour later to cancel, knowing that it's just a cold. Because I Love having the doctor tell me, "it's a virus, nothing we can do, hydrate and rest."

Cheeks does NOT feel like she's missing out, and insist she's sick, and tell me she neeeedddsss medicine. She does NOT nearly have a tantrum when I refuse. I have NOT been giving her extra vitamins to get her off my back to stop crying.

Baby boots, yesterday, needing a snack, did NOT just mosey on into the kitchen and scour the floor for a nice tasty treat. He did NOT find a few chunks of baked potato from the day before, and then attempt to share a "biiiiii" with me. No thanks. No bite.

I always sweep my floor after every meal. NOT. (Actualy, I sweep my floor before the meal. So very backwards. I know.)

I do NOT have 98% of my Christmas shopping left to do. My husband being gone working all week will NOT exacerbate this problem. The Christmas shopping that I have done is NOT because I found a good deal online or bought a thing or two at the grocery store. Aldi no less.

I have NOT felt like a bah humbugger all month hearing about everyone else's fantasy-like tales of Christmas decorating, holiday traditions and cookie baking. My kids have NOT been begging me to put up the tree and decorate for at least a month, and I did NOT avoid the topic because of all the work and complications this would add to my life and the life of my one-year-old holy terror monkey messer-upper. I do NOT let the thought of messes deter the fun.

I am NOT going to go make my first cup of coffee for the day. Or, should I say my fake coffee. What I drink, it's a stretch to call it coffee. I'm sure I'd have more great NOT's to share but, I'm running on low fuel, here. You understand.

...and the thing I thought of and just couldn't resis putting on here...

I did NOT find Mr Boots swishing in a poop filled toilet again yesterday. This is NOT a very regular occurance. We do NOT spend so much time grilling our kids about the importance of flushing, closing the lid, and closing the bathroom door. This training falls just short of mind control or dog shock collars. Unfortunately, the Baby has learned how to open doors, and loves to spend his day doing so, among other irritating things. So the only safeguard is flushing. After finding the culprit of flushing failure, I did NOT call him in later (I had an emergency need upon finding the offending disaster, so I let it go for that moment.) upon seeing a small piece of someone's leftover that didn't flush (sorry to be gross), and ask him to pick it out of the toilet. Naturally, he jumped a the chance to pick up poop. I did NOT continue to gently push him towards the toilet, saying, "No, you need to reach in there and get it." It was at this point that he did NOT start crying (THAT was unintended). When I did asked him why he was crying, was it because that's gross? Oh yeah? Well, that's how Mrs. Bananas feels about Baby Boots playing with your poop. So FLUSH! Nope, that's NOT what I said. I would NEVER do such a shocking and traumatic  thing to my child to teach him a lesson.

NEITHER did I find the toilet again unflushed, later. At that point I would NOT have called him in again, and told him that next time he would be drinking dirty toilet water.

I AM totally NOT serious about that. Seriously.

Have a merry day.


Like most of you, I'm not particularly fond of viruses, on my computer, in my body, in my family's bodies. They're just not pleasant. Even the "new" definition of viral (a video, image or text spread by "word of mouth" on the internet or by e-mail) has an essence of gossip or of information "in bad taste." Both of which I avoid like The Plague (which may or may not have been a virus). Well, maybe not like that. Just to clarify, that doesn't mean you have to stop emailing me those jokes, cuz some of them are pretty funny. Like that one about the deodorant, and "remove cap and push up...". Ahem. Sorry.

Moving along.

One thing that would be awesome if it went "viral" is encouragement. Imagine how a world would change if our encouragement of each other spread like wildfire, er, went viral. Building each other up, turning frowns upside down, changing attitudes, ambition, hours, days, making someone feel good about themself. We all. so. desperately. need to be encouraged. We soak it in like we're dying of thirst, despite our sometimes reluctance to accept kind words from one another.

My mom is a great encourager, and I desire to be like that. For some people this skill or gift comes naturally. For me? Not so much. I have to work a bit harder at it, and much more consciously. When I became a parent, one of the things that I (we) have tried to do is to be very encouraging of our children. I know I could do better at this, but at the same time, to a certain degree, it is almost automatic for me to be encouraging of them. Yet, I have a much harder time when it comes to adults. I suppose it might seem a little odd to praise my friend for tying her shoes so well. (Especially since they're probably slip-ons.) I know for me, it doesn't really occur to me to look for the good in someone and to compliment them. Which is sad. Or maybe it occurs later, and I think it's too late.

I am so glad to have a few friends in my life who are naturals at this. I learn from them, and am challenged by them to pass it on. I recently got a message on Facebook with a great encouraging message. But the thing is, I'm really a detester of those "forward to 500 of your closest friends" emails or messages. Not that I don't forward, just that there's that directive and a number. The number really gets me. And then, to really top it off, I loathe the ones that come with some sort of "do this or ...blah blah blah" guilt message. Grrr! It seems to take all the fun right out of it for me. I most certainly passed on this lovely encouraging message. But I left out the "forward to 8 great people who deserve this too" part.

Which means... I killed the virus.


Because there wasn't that "message of motivation" for others to share the love. But... I think those friends of mine were more blessed by it. Many commented. One wrote me back and told me I rocked. Another said she almost cried, she needed to hear that so badly that day. They all appreciated it. They all needed it. And out of it, I got encouraged 3 times. First when I recieved the message, second when I passed it on, and third when others thanked me for it. I think I win. ??? Weird.

So why don't we encourage more often? I encourage, or challenge, you today to go and encourage someone else. Send them, call them, write them and encouraging note, giving credit to one good point of who they are or what they do. Someone who you haven't heard from in a while, a child down in the dumps or crabby, a cranky salesperson. Pass it on, pay it forward, spread the love. Whatever. I think you will be encouraged in return.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baby Speak

I love language. Any kind, really. I'm pretty partial to Spanish (well, and English, since that's the only one I speak fluently anymore). But lately, I've been tickled pink by my baby's language. It's so cute. The emergent baby-speak that only a mother can translate.

Baby Boots has a fairly small vocabulary, still, though he is quite the copycat, so you can get him to repeat things. Or, I should say, Daddy can get him to repeat things. (Why is it that boys learn better from their dads?) Like "nose." I worked for months with him on "nose." King Kong spends about 5 stinkin' minutes with him and wham-o! Nose! I tried working on "eye" today. I decided maybe I should wait a bit on that one since he just kept poking himself in the eye. It was kinda funny, though. grin.

Here's a list of things he can say. You have to know that all vowel sounds are drawn out, which is part of the cuteness. So cakoo (cracker) sounds like caaaakooooo. Also, the first sylable is more emphasized and higher pitched.
  • Dooowww - down (only without the 'n' sound)
  • coookeeee - cookie (and boy do they learn fast about which grocery stores give out cookies. We walked into Cub Foods last week and guess what I heard him say when we were walking in the door? Jeepers, he's not even 17 months old yet.)
  • mommmmm - (self explanitory)
  • ahhh-booo - apple
  • baahh-boooo - bottle (And as a side note, apple, bottle and popcorn sound essentially indistinguishable from one another)
  • guckie - (like duckie, only with a 'g') nukie (pacifier) (and this one we hear about 1,000 times a day as he has developed a recent attachement to the thing. I have tried to keep it in his crib, but he cries so long for it, and will go fish it out himself. Or find another one that was lost somewhere else. Oh well. At least he's not sucking his fingers.)
  • ah-eeeee - light
  • noooo - nose. Surprisingly, he doesn't say "no" too much. knock on wood. I'm sure I just jinxed myself on that one.
And that's all I can think of for now. Granted he can also say dada, the mutilated names of his siblings, hi, bye-bye, 'nana (banana), and some jumbled up way of saying grandma/grandpa that I haven't quite figured out. It's so fun when they learn a new word. Even if I'm one of only 2 people who can understand it. But, then it's like our little secret.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Some mothers get emotional over certain milestone in their children's lives - first birthdays, first time they say mama, first steps, first day of school. You know, the times when most mothers get teary eyed at how their child is growing, developing.

Not me.

Not that I'm not emotional. Oh boy. Anyone who knows me knows that's not the case. No, I find other strange moments to get (a tiny bit) teary, to feel a catch in my breath of realization that my child is no longer a baby. Usually, it is the day when my baby turning toddler no longer prefers to cuddle, but instead race around like a madman, undoing all that I did. Or when I recieve a kiss, a hug, or an I love you, spontaneously, not asked for. Recently, it was a loose tooth in my four year old. The first loose tooth in our house, and it caught me off guard because it was not on the oldest. Today, it is the oldest child of my womb turning six.

Six. Why is six so surprising? Maybe it's because like yesterday I remember holding him, snug as a bug in a rug, in my arms, against my chest. Holding him the way only I can, only his mother.

His birth was marked by the fact that my water broke (the only one of my children I wasn't induced for) while we were still putting in new kitchen flooring, and it was three weeks early. I still had to have pitocin, though. He was posterior, which made it fairly painful (yay for back labor!) til my OB turned him (even more painful), but it helped him descend. And quickly. King Kong still makes fun of me for the "pah pah pah's" (a way of labor breathing) which were absolutely necessary when they told me to wait, not push. Worst. Torture. Ever. It was the only time my hubby cut the cord, the only one he cried for (I think), and probably the last time he volunteered to change a diaper. (And he changed all the black tar ones. I never got to see one until Koko was born.) One special boy.

Bane Wendell Berg
was born at 12:55 pm on December 6, 2003.
He weighed 6 lbs 8.5 oz, and was 19 1/2 inches long.

It was awesome. I loved childbirth (au natural, baby!). And I loved my firstborn child.

The funny thing is, this child was fair skinned and blond. We were expecting him to be dark haired, darker skinned. He looked like his daddy, alright, just not in color. Surprise! Boy was he a cute baby, though. (Everyone said so, I'm not just being biased. Really. I promise.)

I do have some sort of different, unexplainable love, or feelings, that are only reserved for this child, my firstborn. He's what made me a mother. Something I had waited a long time to become. He changed my world.

His name is unusual, and at least one of the grandparent's did their best to convince us to at least change the spelling. Nope. That was it. We found it on the internet, and instantly knew. From that point on there was no argument, no discussion. His name was found. It's strong and manly. It means "long awaited child" and "child of exhortation," and both are meanings suite him. From that day forward, he became the only Bane of my existence. And I couldn't have been happier.

Today he is a sweet, tenderhearted boy. He is very caring and gentle with his younger siblings, and loves babies. His imagination is very active, and he enjoys creating, building, drawing, and even playing "dress up." He is all boy, and loves anything and everything his daddy does. These days, he talks endlessly and to anyone who will listen about hunting, deer, and guns. (He used to be that way about remote control airplanes.) He has an amazing memory, and can tell you things about airplanes, guns, and tools that some grown men don't know. I am happy to report he still needs his mom, and even occasionally greets me enthusiastically with a hug when I pick him up from school. I know he'll outgrow that soon, but I'll get sappy about that another day.

Isn't he so handsome? Man I love this kid.

Happy Birthday, Baney-boo. Mommy and Daddy love you with all our heart!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So good.

mmm... Mom. What smells so good?

Oh, just this.

The smell of natural, sweet goodness, caramelizing. mmmm...

I think this is so beautiful. It glistened when I pulled it from the oven. All the colors, and then the browning from the oven. Love it. And later, we'll be enjoying some delicious "pumpkin" bars. (Pumpkin, squash. Same thing. Though King Kong would disagree.)

I also used the seeds from these squash and made "pumpkin seeds." They were really tasty. And very easy. And very healthy. My kids love them! And possibly even better than actual pumpkin seeds. Not tough, nice and crispy, and just a bit smaller. Makes me wish I didn't throw most of them in the gargage before I remembered I wanted to bake them. Oh well.

I scooped out the guts, seperated most of the gunk from the seeds, and rinsed them. Then I patted them dry (mostly) in a paper towel. I placed them in a bowl, added a bit of olive oil (1 tsp to 1 Tbsp, depending on how many you have), sprinkled them with a bit of salt (I used season salt, but you could use regular, garlic salt, kosher salt, cajun seasoning, any seasoning really), spread them out on a pan, and baked at 300 degrees for 30 mins, til golden brown. Delish!