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?