Sunday, December 21, 2008

Magical Christmas

The fast approaching Christmas interrupted my regularly scheduled blogging, I’m afraid. Every December, no matter how well I prepare, I reach a point where I freak out about getting everything purchased, wrapped, boxed, and shipped out. This happened last week for me. Oh, and also the boys and I visited the dentist (each at different times), Henry had a double ear infection and had to go to the doctor, and Craig and I had an appointment with Luke’s new psychologist (who is wonderful so far!!!). So we’ve been a bit busy. But now everything seems to be done and I’m really looking forward to Christmas. My only concern is the fact that Henry keeps asking for outrageous gifts from Santa. He gave up on the robot with a remote that controls the world, but now he wants a crocodile key chain that can turn into a real, full-sized crocodile when submerged in water. We read about it in a children’s book.

That Henry. He really doesn’t seem to have much of an understanding of the difference between reality, fantasy, and dream. A few weeks ago he woke up insisting that we used to live in a little yellow house.

“Remember, Mama? The little yellow house? With the porch? Remember?” he kept asking me over and over. I finally had to answer him in the affirmative because he wouldn’t stop with the constant badgering.

Henry also has the charming tendency to make the most bizarre statements regarding his past.

“Remember when I was a teenage girl, Mama?” he’ll ask.

Last week he was talking about the birthday party he would be attending. Henry has never gone to anything other than a family birthday party, and this one was extra special because it was Henry’s first social invitation that was his and not his and Luke’s.

Stretching out on the floor, he said, “I might take a nap at Adam’s birthday party, Mama.”

“Oh really?” I asked. “Well, usually people don’t take naps at parties.”

“Well,” he responded in a condescending voice, “When I lived in North America, before you or Daddy or Luke were born, back when I was a boy that went to high school, I went to a party and we took a nap.”

Okay then. Maybe in North America when you were a teenage girl, Santa can give you a magical crocodile key chain. It's Christmas, right? Anything could happen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Little Sister

My sister Mara has been living with us for a month. I keep meaning to write about her, but somehow, I find this hard. She is just so much a part of me that I have a hard time saying anything about her. I can’t really remember when she wasn’t here. I forget to ask people if she can come with me to various events because I forget that she isn’t, say, my left arm.

My husband cannot understand this in the slightest. Mara is ten years younger than I am. We have rarely lived around one another since she hit puberty. And yet, somehow, we know each other inside and out. We have many similar mannerisms and gestures.

I think I understand, just a little, what it must feel like for twins who have been separated to be around one another for the first time. You begin to understand genetics in a more profound way.

My boys say that we have five people in our family now, Mom, Dad, Luke, Henry, and Auntie.

Auntie is going to Vietnam at the end of the month. Though she will likely be back, it is clear that Columbus, Ohio will not be her permanent home.

I am having phantom pains already.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Amazing, Bizarre, and Lovely

We had a lovely weekend. On Friday night, we went to church to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas. On the car ride there, Henry was in a particularly curious and chatty mood.

“Mom, why can we swallow food but we can’t swallow our fingers?” he asked.

“Well, our fingers are attached to our hands,” I answered.

“No, I mean, why do our fingers make us throw up a little and our food does not?” Henry pressed further.

“I guess that is because we chew up our food before we swallow it, but most people, if they choose to stick their fingers down their throats, do not choose to chew up their fingers first,” I said.

“Hey, Mom,” Henry went on, moving on to another topic. “God made us, right?”

“Yes, Henry.”

“So God made OUR POOP???” he asked, laughing uproariously.

A brief lesson on the digestive process followed.

After church, a service that reminded me why we very rarely choose to take our boys to church in the evenings, we went upstairs to eat cookies. Luke’s class had made a booklet on St. Nicholas to distribute to all of the parishioners, a booklet entitled, “What St. Nicholas Means to Me.”

There were some lovely drawings and writings by these first through third graders. Many of the girls wrote, “I love St. Nicholas.” Many of the boys stuck more to the facts, writing things like, “St. Nicholas was a Bishop.”

Luke drew the picture featured above. In case you can’t see it clearly, it is a drawing of a head with wings with this caption: “St. Nicholas is a Spirit.”

Ahh, my Luke, so spiritually advanced.

The next morning, the kids ran shrieking around the house, very impressed that St. Nicholas knew to give them Bakugan battle brawlers and cheetos in their shoes.

It snowed gently all day, adding to the festive atmosphere, and Craig kept the fire stoked against the cold.

That afternoon, we ventured out carefully in the car to attend a Tae Kwon Do belt ceremony for Craig and Luke. They have been taking class together and both recently earned their yellow belts. Luke took the ceremony seriously, clearly very proud as his instructor tied the belt around his waist.

Feeling like we should celebrate, we drove the car home, bundled up and found Auntie Mara, and ventured out to the local pub by foot. Along the way, the boys made snow angels in the smooth, new blanket of snow.

Monday, December 01, 2008

My Children, Amazing and Bizarre

I write so often about Luke and his difficult temperament, breaking for funny stories of his wild antics, but I don’t usually talk about his many gifts. There are a lot that I find rather astounding—like his amazing memory or his musical ability—but right now, at this moment, I want to remember his first grade school year, and how totally average he is. This, for my oldest son, is wonderful. He is reading right where he should be, writing like a slightly above average first grader. He is extra good at math, he likes gym, he has several good friends. His teacher reports that he is a good classmate, that he doesn’t get into trouble, that he doesn’t do anything unusual in class. He rarely protests going to school.

Luke seems to be a free spirit learning to follow the rules.

Henry, on the other hand, is a rule follower who is learning to rebel. He recently has been defying our every instruction, baiting and teasing Luke to no end. I think this is all a play for power, in this family where the dynamic has so often been that Luke commands and Henry worshipfully follows.

Henry has asked Santa to bring him a remote control robot for Christmas. Except that the remote control is a universal remote. And by universal, Henry means that “it can control everyone and everything in the world.”

Can I find it at Target?