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  • The Holiday Shop

    January 16, 2011

    If there was one thing I thought I knew about my child it is this:  He cannot keep a secret.

    Early in December, Sean brought home a flyer from school announcing the annual Holiday Shop!  I put the exclamation point there so you might know just how thrilled I was with this news.

    The flyer reported which classes would visit the Holiday Shop on which days and at what time.  The flyer also stated with vehemence (probably inferred on my part) that there would be NO preview this year and that the vendor was the same as last year and that it was NOT a school fundraiser.  It was totally for-profit crunk selling.

    As it turns out, we were not at the school last year, so that information, vehement or otherwise, was not useful to me.

    What information I did require was the following:  What in the heck is a Holiday Shop? What kind of holiday crunk is stocked in Ye Olde Holiday Shoppe, and most importantly how much does this crunk cost?  Oh, and hey, what about the kiddos who have no Holiday Shop spending money?  And then the question I always have when it comes to these kinds of extra-curricular events:  Can’t we just do math or phonics instead?

    So as usual when faced with a conundrum, I called my friend Jennifer who knows stuff.  She gave me the low-down on the Holiday Shop and a suggested a budget of about $5 to $10.

    When I talked to Sean later, I asked him about how much he thought he needed for this shopping spree.  He said about $30.  So I said, how about $5?  He said how about $10?  I said how about I give you $5 and you take $5 out of your bank.  He said, “Deal!” and we shook on it and signed the papers.

    Then we had a little chat about how this was Christmas, not Seanmas, and that the purpose of the Holiday Shop was so that he might buy presents for others, and by others I meant People Who Are Not Sean.  Then we had a discussion about fractions and percentages as we negotiated about how much he could spend on himself.

    The next day I sent him off to school with his $5 and my $5 expecting the same winning results you might get in Las Vegas.  When he came home from school I asked to see his purchases.  With much pride he showed me the Cowboys pennant he bought for his father and the camouflage-motif pencil he bought for Papa George.  And then he showed me the dog-tag style necklace with a soccer pendant he bought for himself.

    “Did you get anything else?” I asked coyly, “Anything for anyone else?”

    “Nope,” he said definitively and handed me the $7.25 he did not spend.

    I chuckled to myself as I turned his backpack inside out looking for the other gifts. Surely there were other gifts, surely.  But no….

    We wrapped the pennant and the pencil and put them under the tree and I thought no more of it because I knew my broken and wounded heart would someday mend.

    On Christmas Eve I unwrapped the gifts from my big boyfriend and my little boyfriend — an ornament from Target which I had purchased myself and handed off to big boyfriend for wrapping, and a pair of much-needed slippers which I requested.  No surprises there but much delight all the same.

    “Oh, one more thing Mom!” Sean said as he dove under the tree.  He returned with a tiny package, merrily wrapped with a ribbon and secured with a lot of tape.  He handed it to me, glowing, as though it were a jewel he had just plucked from its slumber in the earth.

    I couldn’t imagine what it could be but suspected it was something that he had made at school, something with glitter and glue and probably macaroni.

    Inside was a pretty little ring with a blue stone that he had purchased at the Holiday Shop.

    “Are you surprised Mom? Are you? You thought I forgot you, didn’t you!” he laughed.

    “It cost a dollar!” he enthused, then  quickly added, “I’m sorry it’s not a real diamond.”

    “I love it,” I said with all honestly.

    I slipped it on my finger, adjusted the band for a custom-fit and then held out my hand to admire it.

    It was a complete surprise.

    It was beautiful.

    It pinched my finger.

    And my heart.

    Giftmas or Christmas or Both

    December 27, 2010

    I got the following comment from Lil on my previous post and it really got me to thinking:

    “My grown sister and I were talking a few days ago about Christmases past and she was saying that thinking back on our childhood Christmases, she never got THE thing she really wanted, she always got a variation or knock off of the desired object and that she never had a WOW Christmas because of it. I said that my poor mom was trying to make four kids happy on a limited budget and had done pretty darned well. But her lingering disappointment in those Christmases past made me think that maybe for my kid, the memory of getting what he really wants on Christmas, at least with one toy, is worth the expense.

    On the other hand, I have a friend and in her family of five kids, they each got one item of clothing on Christmas morning and then all went out sledding and she had wonderful memories of that!

    I guess with Christmas, we’re really just trying to make happy memories for our kids, however that is possible, with the realization of a dream come true gift, or/and a great happy time with family.”

    And I thought, you know that is a very interesting discussion point and one that is probably worthy of an entire post.

    I’m torn.

    The philosophical side of me sniffs and dismisses toys and gifts, the side that tries to ponder upon loftier things.  The six-year-old poor girl in me wants the Hollywood stage set Christmas and the IT doll wrapped in shiny foil paper and a sparkly bow.  And a pretty red velvet dress. And those sides are like two siblings in the backseat of a car on a trip to eternity, slap fighting the whole way.

    My parents never had money for the IT toy or even the knock-off IT toy and while I had a wonderful childhood, I had the impression that everyone else except us was having a Norman Rockwell Christmas and getting IT toys and new pajamas and spending money from grandma and were delirious with joy on Christmas morning.  And because of that, for me, Christmas always came with a feeling of disappointment.  And that disappointment seems to have nestled deep within me and feeds my desire to give Sean at least one IT toy.

    One the other hand….

    If you (meaning me) are focused inward then it’s easy to believe in the false-Christmas that retailers sell, the one that can never be had, and you deny yourself the joy of the season.   But if you (meaning me) adjust your expectations and focus out, then you (meaning me) can tap into the joy of Christmas and anesthetize the disappointment. To some degree.  I’m pretty sure that makes no sense to you (meaning you) because it barely makes sense to me.

    So while I do indulge my inner poor girl and buy Sean at least one thing he really wants, AD and I go to considerable efforts to counter that by playing down the gifts and focusing on the traditions that we are creating as a family and on the story of the birth of Christ as told in Luke.

    When Sean is a grown man, I want him to remember Christmas in our house as a time of joy more so than whether or not he got a Bakugan when he was seven.  I guess he can let you know in another 15 years or so.

    I would love to hear your thoughts and stories.

    Carry On Santa

    December 23, 2010

    So that y’all may go on with your holidays, I shall reveal to you the secrets of the House of Antique as it relates to obscure toy requests:

    1) A machine gun.  Sean wants the Nerf machine gun but it is $40 and we already have three other Nerf guns.  He will get the $15 Walmart no-name obnoxious noise making variety which I will deeply regret two minutes seconds after it is loosed from its packaging.

    After purchasing a number of Tonka obnoxious-noise-making Trucks and an Alvin the Chipmunk who sings Up On The Rooftop every time you walk past, you’d think I’d learn. But no.  I get visions of his eyes lighting up and his grubby little hands clapping with joy and I lose my mind and buy stuff I hate.  Apparently I’m nuts.  Or just nutty about that boy.

    2)  A Bakugan Kit.   This “kit” is the exorbitantly over-priced Tupperware container for his growing collection of Bakugans, and by growing collection I mean we have two that we got in Happy Meals (one of which is lost at the moment).  Last week I had never heard of a Bakugan and I still don’t really know what they are.  Were it not for kids at school, Sean would still not know what they are.  &!@# school kids.

    3) A microscope. This he is also not getting, although I really want to get him one.  I want to wait until I can buy a good sturdy one.  Anyone who has any microscope buying insider info, I’d love to hear from you.

    4) A lie detector kit — as seen in Sky Mall magazine.  Also not getting this as it would surely be used against me.

    What he is getting are Zoobs and a blocks and marbles super set and a new soccer ball.  Oh yeah, and the stupid machine gun.

    Merry Giftmas to all and to all a good night!

    The Mushinggun

    December 22, 2010

    One year it was the Chicken Wipes. The next year it was the Peemo Boat.

    This year, as you can see from the letter he typed up on his computer, Sean wants a mushinggun and a liykit, among other things.

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    One point for each correct answer.

    Having Myself A Merry Little Christmas

    December 25, 2009

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    I am just popping in to say hello and season’s greetings and merry Christmas and all that good stuff.  I hope your holidays have been bright thus far.

    We have had a Norman Rockwellian sort of Christmas here at the House of Antique. We had a lovely snowfall on Christmas eve and even built a snowman.  We have had company and baked cookies and sang carols and thoroughly enjoyed the sparkle and light a six-year-old brings to the season.

    I got a robe for Christmas, not a Rob as I was led to believe. Guess I’ll have to run my own errands.  Sean got an archery set and not a Barbie Dream House as I led him to believe.

    In the years to come, I doubt that we’ll remember the gifts or even the snow, but that we were well, warm, fed and all together; that we lacked nothing.  It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

    * * *

    The picture in the snow globe is one AD took today of Sean and me while we were out walkin’ in a winter wonderland.  I made the snow globe in Photoshop using the  PanosFX snow globe action, a free download.

    Fake And Sparkly – Still Not A Bad Thing

    December 20, 2009

    This post is from last December.  It is still applicable.

    * * *

    One day last week, Sean and I spent the afternoon putting up Christmas decorations.  I used to really enjoy decking the halls, but I have come to a point in life where it seems to be more work than fun.

    As I root through box after box of stuff, I wonder if hanging fake glittery stuff on a fake tree only to be removed and boxed up again in 30 days is a good use of my time and energy, both of which seem to be in short supply these days.  Sparkle and glitter and garland is not really what the season is about after all.

    But then I look at my little five-year-old boyfriend who is totally into Christmas and the decorating and how he is thrilled with each ornament, even the cruddy ones. I realize then that it’s worth it because one day too soon he will be too busy or too cool to spend an afternoon decorating for Christmas with his mama.  And oh how I will rue the day.

    That thought however did not stop me from lying down on the living room floor in an attempt to stave off that spinning sensation of being overwhelmed that often comes with the holidays but this year seems to be magnified in light of the economy and world and personal events.

    As I lay there on the floor trying to create some order in my mind so that I might create some order in my life, Sean wanders over and straddles me with his hands on his hips.  I feel like the worker who has been caught napping in the janitor’s closet.  He  plops down on my tummy.  He leans over and looks me square in the face.  He searches my face with a furrowed brow, lips pursed in concern.  I’m afraid that he knows, that I’ve not done a good job of keeping my adult worries and cynicism to myself.

    “Mom?” he asks as he leans over me.

    “Yes?” I say, bracing myself.

    “Did you know that you have farkles on your face?”

    He draws his face closely into mine and like a surgeon,  he ever so delicately plucks a dot of glitter from my cheek.

    “See?” he says, holding his be-glittered finger one inch from my eyeball, “Farkles!”

    He jumps up, ready to keep going.

    “C’mon mom, let’s keep decorating!” he cries with glee as he tugs on my arm.

    This boy, he is good medicine for a bad attitude.

    I decide that for him, that I would do a better job of at least pretending to find joy in the fake and sparkly, that I would be careful not spoil these few precious years in his life when the world is small and uncomplicated and magical.

    So for now, for the boy, my attitude shall be like my tree — fake and sparkly.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    The Christmas Bonus

    December 18, 2009

    One of the things I miss the most about having a toddler around the house is the spontaneous and exuberant affection.

    As a toddler, Sean was given to fits of passion.  Without warning, his teeny tiny heart would seemingly erupt with unrestrained and irrational love.  All that slobbery affection had to go somewhere and I was his favorite target.

    PhotobucketI miss the days when he would stand in my lap, giggling and bouncing on fat little legs.  I miss how he would wrap his ams around my head and gnaw on my face.  I miss the leg hugs.

    It seems the days of unfettered expressions of love are gone forever, but every once in a while one will come out of no where.  And it’s like getting a bonus — a little end of the year reward for all the hard work of motherhood.

    Last night Sean and I were sitting side by side on the sofa reading through a stack of Christmas books. He had already had his bath and was in his robe and jammies and was extra warm and snuggly and smelled of lavender shampoo.  Y’all, that is like catnip to a mommy.

    The book we were reading, Santa’s Stuck, always sends him into fits of snorting giggles.  I started laughing at him laughing.  And then we were just laughing and had no idea why.

    When I closed the book and set it aside, he threw himself into my lap in a fit of passion.  He wrapped his arms around my neck and chicken pecked my face with kisses while making chomping noises.

    He was two again.

    Then he stopped and pulled back. He looked into my face, his eyes still sparkling.

    Then his expression changed.  The moment was over as quickly as it had begun.  My six-year-old was back.

    “Stop goofing off mom,” he said seriously as he rolled out of my lap. “Let’s read another book.”

    Maybe if I keep up the good work, I’ll get to stay on.  And maybe I’ll get another bonus next year.

    Brown Paper

    December 16, 2009

    About 20 years ago, someone gave me a big roll of brown paper.  I lugged it home thinking I could do something artsy with it, although I had no idea what.

    So I stuck it in the back of the closet until such time as an idea came to me.  And there it stayed for about 10 years until I moved and stashed it in the back of yet another closet for another ten years.  Then I had a child.  And an idea.  And the brown paper was finally put to use.

    About once a week, Sean and I will get out the big roll of brown paper and stretch out six or eight feet on the floor and make something. Because that’s what we do. We make stuff.  We’ve got crayons and markers and we are not afraid to use them.

    Last year, he was really interested in the rain forest, so we read a book on the rain forest and we learned about the various animals that inhabit each layer. Then we rolled out about 8 feet of our trusty brown paper and drew a ginormous tree and worked together to create a verticle mural of the rain forest from the river to the canopy.  It was fun and educational and a great way to kill a rainy afternoon.

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    The year he was four,  around Christmas time, we rolled out the brown paper and I had him lay down on it so that I could trace his outline.  Then he painted and drew himself as a Santa and we cut it out and displayed it on the wall.  You deck your halls with boughs of holly, we deck ours with dwarf-sized brown paper Santas.  We made another brown paper “Seanta” last year and again this year and it’s been fun to see how he has grown, physically and artistically.

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    Twenty years ago, I had no idea what I would do with that roll of brown paper.   The roll is almost gone and I still don’t know what I’ll do with it from day to day, but I know it will be something.

    On Being Brave

    December 14, 2009

    Sunday night, the church we attend held its annual Christmas get-together where the children sing Christmas songs and have their picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  So we donned our gay apparel and off we went.

    Sean had been looking forward to going because he knew that Santa would be there and he wanted to make sure Santa knows that he wants a bow and arrow for Christmas.  He doesn’t really believe in Santa, but Sean is the kind of guy who likes to cover his bases.

    At the same time, he was not looking forward to going because he knew that he, along with his Sunday school class, was expected to get up and sing in front of everybody and he would rather eat broccoli with spinach sauce than do that.

    When they called Sean’s class up to the front to perform, he did not want to go.  Like a mule, he sat back on his heels and refused to go.

    Had it been just me, I would have said fine, no biggie and let it go at that. It didn’t seem very important to me and I know I hate being forced into doing something that makes me uncomfortable.  And if there is one thing that makes me uncomfortable it’s the thought of being forced to sing in front of a roomful of people.  And just below that is the thought that I should have to wrestle my child to the ground and then drag him by his ankles up front to sing for a room full of people.   Then there would be two terrified, not to mention angry, people up front which would put a damper on the whole tidings of comfort and joy theme. So then, my vote was to not make it an issue.

    But Antique Daddy saw it differently.  He felt it was important that Sean push through the fear and get up and sing with his group.  So he coaxed and cajoled and encouraged.  Sean looked to me for a rescue, but also high on the list of things that make me squirm is the thought of having a spousal argument in front of the entire church body, so I shrugged my shoulders to indicate to Sean that I was staying out of it and that this was between him and his daddy.

    Finally AD grabbed him by the hand and drug him up front offered to go with him.  So off they went to the front hand and hand.  Sean made his way to the stage while AD stood off to one side.

    As he stood among his peers, lip-syncing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, I thought about how parenting is this constant challenge of trying to decide when to push and when to back off.  And how often no matter which way you go it feels like you’re getting it wrong.

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    When he got back to his seat, I pulled him into my lap and told him I thought he did a great job and that I was really proud of how brave he was.

    “I wasn’t brave!” he said in a huff, “I was really really scared!”  And then he nestled into me like a bird in a nest.

    “I know,” I whispered in his ear, “Being brave means being really really scared and doing it anyway.”

    Italian Pizzelles

    December 12, 2009

    When I was growing up in the midwest, our Italian neighbors always brought over a tin of pizzelles during the holidays.  To me, those thin buttery crisp waffle cookies symbolize holiday hospitality.

    When I moved out of my parent’s house, my mom bought me my own pizzelle iron and every Christmas I carry on the Italian tradition of bringing pizzelles to my friends and neighbors.

    Here’s what you will need:

    A pizzelle iron – mine is a 25-year-old Rival combo waffle/pizzelle iron.

    6 eggs

    1 1/2 cups of sugar

    1 1/2 cups of melted butter

    1 1/2 cups of flour

    2 teaspoons of baking powder

    4 teaspoons of anise extract.  I like to substitute Frangelica which is a hazlenut liquor but Grand Marnier works well too.

    2 teaspoons of vanilla

    powdered sugar to sprinkle on top of finished cookie

    *  *  *  *

    Whip the eggs and then add in the rest of the ingredients in the order listed.  The batter will be thick but still flow from a spoon.

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    Place a generous tablespoon or so of batter in the center of the hot iron, or two dollops of batter if you have a two-top like I do.  Close the lid and allow to cook until it stops steaming, about 45 seconds. This is a terribly blurry picture, but you get the idea.

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    This is what they look like when they are done, lightly golden brown.  Remove the very hot pizzelles with a fork and lay on a rack to cool. At this point they will be very maleable and you can shape them into a cylinder or a bowl or cone, but you will have to work quickly.

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    If you want to shape them into a bowl to serve ice cream in later — and might I recommend Blue Bell Pecan Pralines — quickly press them into a ramekin while still warm.

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    Or you can just place them on a rack to cool and sprinkle them with powdered sugar.  Aren’t they pretty?

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    I like to serve them after dinner with coffee or tea.  They are very light and not too sweet – the perfect ending to a heavy meal.

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    And this is how fast they come running when the pizzelles are done.

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    This recipe makes 40 or more pizzelles minus the 10 or 15 you won’t be able to stop yourself from eating.