Friday, December 28, 2007

Sibling Rivalry

Claire rolled over on the bathroom floor today while I was curling my hair. I made a big deal out of it: "Yay, Claire! What a big girl! You rolled over! Yay!" I feel sorry for the people who overhear me talk in my high-excited-mommy voice. So annoying. Grace must have heard me because she rushed in and yelled, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! I can roll over too!" And then she proceeded to do a very squirmy roll-over. Two things occurred to me just then: Number One. Rolling over is weird. Nobody does it in real life. Number Two. Grace needs attention. So I cheered for Grace and told her what a great roll she did and what a big girl I thought she was. Maybe if I can be equally excited about both children they won't feel the need to out-do each other. I obviously haven't done a good enough job of that yet.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Playing with Scissors

My mom calls it a childhood rite of passage. But that still doesn't make me happy about Grace's self-inflicted haircut. I came home from the grocery store to find that my siblings had put Grace down for a nap in the present-wrapping room with scissors in plain sight on the floor. Genius. I can't wait until they have kids. Anyway, it wasn't five minutes before she had done this:

I nearly cried. I guess it's mostly my fault, though, considering that I kept telling her we were going to get her hair cut. I'm sure her little two-year-old brain believed she was helping me out.

I couldn't bear the thought of giving her a boy's mushroom cut, so this is what I had the hairdresser do:
As long as I can get her hair "trained" to part on the other side to cover up the hack job, all will be well.
After this stressful episode, I realized that if Grace does something as a teenager to cause me real worry, I might not make it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Our Hometown

Carlsbad is one of those places that you go through on a long road trip and you think to yourself, "Who lives here?" I do, thank you very much. When Brad and I decided to stay here and start a business, my parents said, "Do you really see yourselves there in the long-term? It's a hole." Of course, they're living in Dallas, the consumer capital of the free world. People in Dallas eat out so much that my parents moved into a three year old home where the oven had never been used. My mom has broken in the oven by now, but they eat out at least once a week. I can see how Carlsbad would not be appealing after getting used to Dallas. There are certainly no restaurants to speak of. Unless you want to drive an hour and a half to Roswell for dinner, dining out options include: a mini-Chilis, two all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets, Dave's Barbeque, and a Denny's. A trashy Denny's. (Is that redundant?)

To the passing trucker or tourist, Carlsbad is probably pretty trashy in general. People passing through to see the caverns have to stay at some pretty nasty hotels. And Canal Street, Carlsbad's main drag, is a story in itself. Canal Street is home to boarded up businesses, hobos/bag ladies, and super annoying sensorless traffic lights. And whenever it rains, this happens:

Car washes are pointless.

AND THE BUGS! I consider myself to be a reasonable human being. But bugs. I can't deal. One of my friends told me that her husband picked a giant, colorful centipede up out of their sink, twirled it around and said, "Very funny, Jolene." And then screamed like a little girl when it started climbing up his hand. After that story, I had nightmares about centipedes for weeks. I'm not kidding. I actually woke up sweating in the middle of the night at least twice after dreaming a centipede was crawling in our bed waiting to eat me. (And if you are laughing at me right now, I suggest you search "giant centipede eats mouse" on YouTube so you can have nightmares too.)

And despite all of these inconveniences, we still live here. We choose to be here. We love it here. There's something great about living in a small town and escaping your neighbors, the Joneses. We can be us here. And that's refreshing.

Come visit.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The World's Biggest Fib

I am not a fan of sending out Christmas cards. But I do I love getting them. Last weekend I got a newsy Christmas letter from an old high school friend and enjoyed every word. Last weekend I also typed out the rough draft for our Christmas card which is so brief that it will be sent out on a postcard. It contains one sentence about our family's goings-on. I have a really hard time sending out a newsletter about our family. I feel like I'm saying, "I know I haven't talked to you at all in the last year, but now that I have your undivided attention, let me tell you how happy we are and how perfect our life is." As I have already explained, I do NOT feel like that is what our friends are saying when we get their Christmas letters. Don't ask me where the double standard comes from. I just feel like a narcissist at Christmastime. That's all.


Right now Grace is sitting at my feet singing, "You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry..." I'm astonished. Not because she's singing--she does that a lot. But who taught her the words to THAT song? I didn't. I'm still in a quandry about the whole Santa thing.

This year Brad and I have been discussing whether or not to actively reinforce the Santa myth. Brad says it's not a big deal to lie to your children about Santa and that he doesn't know anyone who was emotionally scarred when they found out the truth. Frankly, neither do I, and that's not part of my case against Santa. My mom says that by telling my daughter the truth about Santa I will rob her of the essence of childhood wonder. I don't want to do that either. And I don't want Grace to be the kid at the lunch table who spills the beans to all her little friends either. But I am still up in arms over the matter. And this is why:

I understand and like the idea of Santa Clause. He represents selflessness, love, kindness, compassion--everything good in humanity. Hey. Wait a minute. Don't those characteristics sound really familiar? Don't they remind you of the person we mean to celebrate on Christmas? Why have we invented someone who in every important quality is identical to Jesus Christ? Isn't that sort of distracting from the real purpose of Christmas? And if you're tempted to stop me here and call me a kill-joy, straight-laced, religious fanatic, hear me out. If you want to argue that by refusing to perpetuate the Santa story I will be stealing my daughter's sense of wonder and fun, I beg to firmly disagree [Mom!]. When I was a Santa-believing munchkin I asked all sorts of questions like, "How does Santa live forever?" "How does he get around to everyone in one night?" "How does he know what everyone wants?" "Why does he deliver presents to everyone?" "How can he really know if I'm bad or good?" "Why doesn't he just let us see him? Then everyone would be good." To which my parents and teachers responded with various fibs. And eventually, I discovered they were fibs and, I'm happy to say, sustained no permanent damage. Mostly. But interestingly, if children were asking the same questions about Jesus Christ, the answers are not only fantastic, but they are true. Wouldn't those truths actually reinforce childhood wonder and make it last? It seems to me that the existence of a make-believe Santa makes the end of childhood an inevitability. I remember my Mom telling me that Santa was just a nice story, and I thought, "I'm a grown-up now. I know their secrets." And for me, anything magical and the story of Santa were one and the same. Since Santa was fake, there was no real magic. But if we start kids on the amazing story of Christmas and Easter, there never has to be a let-down. We could tell our kids in all sincerity: "Jesus Christ really will live forever, and so will you. He knows the things you want and need when you pray. He can see you all the time and He knows when you're being bad and good, and I don't have any idea how He does it. But isn't it amazing?" It seems to me like the gospel wouldn't be as boring and as practical as I so often see it if I had been introduced to it that way. I just don't understand why we have to make up lies about some fictitious character when the story of the true Giver of Gifts is so much more amazing, magical and just... better.

But I still haven't made up my mind. I mean, apparently my daughter's childhood is at stake. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Giving Auntie Anne a Run for her Money

I made soft pretzels wrapped around hot dogs for dinner last night. Picky Brad raved. Actually raved. He's never done that before. I am now officially a successful homemaker.

Here is the recipe (which is obviously from the back of a flour bag):

To make the pretzel-dogs, I wrapped the 16-inch rope around the hot dog and proceeded with all the rest of the instructions (rising, boiling in baking soda-water for ten seconds, salting, baking, buttering and baking again). This recipe isn't as hard as it sounds. And it's worth it, man!

I replaced the shortening with an equal amount of butter and used much less water and baking soda for boiling since I had a smaller saucepan.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A friend of mine came over the other day to help me bake pies for Thanksgiving. She brought her son to keep Grace entertained while we were elbow-deep in apples. The arrangement was working well when Brad came home and went to Grace's room to claim his welcome home hug. I heard him laugh while I sat at the table, peeling an apple in one long spiral. It was a nice moment: enjoying his big belly laugh while making pie... It was also a brief moment because then I heard him ask, "Uh, Grace, why did you and Trey take off your clothes?" My friend rushed from the table to no doubt reclothe her little imp, while I was still musing over whether Grace had merely taken her shirt off or stripped all the way to her diaper. She had, in fact, stripped entirely. And she had apparently persuaded her little friend to do the same (he was not quite yet entirely nude).

If my life were a book, my English training would prompt me to view this incident as a foreshadowing. Happily, my life is not a book. Which means this occurrence is not evidence of neglectful parenting, nor an indication of problems she will have as a teenager.

.... Right?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Catching Up

Last week I became the proud owner of a Maytag Portable Dishwasher. This black beauty sits against my pantry wall, adding a generous 2 cubic feet of counter space. (I now have a place to roll out dough which I have enthusiastically already done twice.) It has saved me at least one hour each day, spared me recurring arguments with my husband over dish responsibilities (which I always lost), given my scaled and bloody hands time to heal, and ended my angry thoughts toward people using glasses and silverware instead of paper products. Had I known happiness could be delivered from Sears in one afternoon, I might have conned my parents into buying it for me sooner.

But I digress. More than appliances has happened since my last post. I have too much to write. In fact, I was not planning on ever typing again until I found a link to my page on the Bunnell's blog. So now I feel an obligation. Here's a quick fill-in on the events of the past year:

  • We moved to Hickville for a job in the Neville family business.
  • We bought our first home and proceeded to rip out the bathrooms in full (which made living there sort of inconvenient).
  • We started loving Hickville.
  • I birthed baby numero dos in Alientown (making for a torturously long drive to the hospital).
Now, about loving Hickville. We do not want to leave. We love living three hours from the nearest shopping center in a place where half of the population live in trailers and use double negatives. Our biggest complaint is that the traffic lights on the main drag have no sensors. It's annoying to be late to church and have the light turn red and to wait 2 minutes for absolutely no cross traffic. Other than that, we could stay here forever. And maybe we will.
On another interesting note: Grace has started calling me Mamma. Doesn't that seem a bit Little House on the Prairie?