Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

We are all snowed in here. Of course, snowed in is relative. My sister and I made short work of shoveling the driveway while mocking the poor shoveling skills of our neighbors. It turns out that there are some advantages to getting tied onto a roof and ordered to shovel on a regular basis while growing up—it makes regular shoveling seem easy. That last sentence makes it sound like we were maltreated as children, which we were not. We just had a really awful roof that needed shoveling regularly while we were growing up in Alaska, and our dad didn’t want us to fall off. So he tied us on up there. It turns out there are advantages to having five kids, too. I don’t live in Alaska, or on a farm, so I think two kids are probably enough.

My kids weren’t much help with the shoveling. They did shovel the lawn off so they could make a big mound of snow in the middle of the yard. Then we played a little king of the mountain. I tell you, I don’t know what to do about these kinds of games. I think the best thing is to look away.

We made a list this morning of all the things we wanted to do today, this day where even Craig didn’t have to go teach. We all got to contribute to the list, and here’s what we wrote down:
Play outside (mommy and boys)
Shovel (mommy and Mara)
Play star wars with our bodies (boys and daddy)
Naptime and quiet play time (everyone)
Make peanut butter play dough (boys and mom)
Read Books (daddy and boys, mommy and boys, Mara and boys)
Play Lego Star Wars (daddy and boys)
Write (mommy)
Yoga (mommy and Mara)
Clean Room (boys and dad)
Clean T.V. room (boys and mom)
Finish homework (boys)
Bake a cake (Luke and mom)

I’m writing at the moment—I will try to work on something else after blogging—and Craig is playing Star Wars with the boys. Our list is complete! The cake is in the fridge and there is Indian food simmering on the stove.

It was a lovely snow day. But I hope school is back in session tomorrow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Christmas Form Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

I skipped the Christmas form letter this year, but I’ve been getting calls and emails every day begging me to write one. Craig is the most vocal, as he tells me that my blog was much better last year when it was funny and “not so touching and poignant.” I decided to comply with his wishes, since I know it is one of the highlights of everyone’s year, hearing the accomplishments of our family. I feel a bit as though I’m bragging when I write these letters, but just know that I’m simply thankful for our abundant gifts. Of course, my careful planning and coordination—not to mention my regimented day planner and perfectly organized home—help us to maintain the highly accomplished lifestyle to which we are accustomed.

This is the first year that I can report that Henry has been weaned! At three and a half, he still begs for “nursies” every day of course, but that is to be expected since he has only been weaned for six months. He seems to be gifted in languages, as he talks regularly in “baby talk.” He also takes French once a week at his preschool, and he knows the words adieu and magique after five months of study. We are so proud. He also, amazingly, can read the Bible already. It is simply magique!

Speaking of the Bible, each Sunday morning Luke first tries begging, then crying, then telling me his throat hurts in order that he might stay home from church. Despite his resistance to church services, Luke asked, just last Sunday, when he could become an alter boy. This was, strangely, right after he saw a cute little girl wave to one of the alter boys. Luke is also developing great spiritual insights about the saints. In other Luke news, he is working hard this year on his hypochondria. Last month, he asked me 953 times—once waking me in the middle of the night to do so—if his eyes were pink after several of his classmates developed pinkeye. Other ailments that have concerned Luke on several occasions recently have been chicken pox, vomiting, strep throat, measles, and dry drowning.

Craig continues to organize his woodworking workshop. He also has begun collecting antique woodworking postcards. As he works hard to complete his collection, I wait patiently for my bed frame while sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Big projects like this take time! Craig continues to serve as faculty advisor for the Argentine Tango Club at Ohio State. I’m glad he has hobbies, since this quarter is very stressful at work: he has to teach two classes, which means he has to be to campus by 10:30 every morning, and he often doesn’t get to leave work until 5 pm. And if you can believe it, he has to do this five days per week!

I, too, am hard at work. I write for at least one hour each week, and I have one publication to my name. As you can see, I recently learned how to create links in my blog, which is one of the big accomplishments of my year. My little sister Mara, ten years younger than I am, has been staying with us for a while, so I’ve been busy regressing. It is so nice to have her here, and we try to show our appreciation by allowing her to stay in our cold basement. It is a bit moldy, too, but we don’t think it has reached the “toxic mold” level yet. I have made a lot more friends here in our little town this year. I have made friends with a group of local blogging mamas, and we get together regularly to discuss writing drink beer. I also have made friends with a couple of women who have boys in first grade at Luke’s school, and we get together to talk about how to be good soccer moms go to wine tastings at the local wine shop.

We have so much to be thankful for this year. We are truly blessed. We hope you all can be as blessed, fortunate, and talented as we are.

The Jacksons

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Luke lost his first tooth last night. He pulled it out himself, blood and all. For him, this was amazing, since he has been known to go nearly hysterical over the sight of blood. He was so excited, and it seemed to be less about the money that he was hoping to find under his pillow and more about the coming-of-age significance of losing the tooth. He was proud.

And when I held that tooth in my hand, I couldn’t believe how tiny it was, so insubstantial, a small speck in my palm. The relic of my firstborn’s babyhood.

Monday, January 12, 2009

As my kids get older, I feel less and less like I can write about them. As they become more and more their own small people, their stories less mine to tell. When they were wee little ones, I could tell all because it was all about me, too. Now it is not.

This is all a preface to me writing about Luke and his journey into psychotherapy again. We left the last psychologist, as we weren’t getting any real help or answers. But as we left, we very strongly asked Dr. P to give us his assessment of the situation, and he put a name to Luke’s behavior that was very hard for me to hear. It made me cry, although it isn’t such a bad diagnosis, truth be told.

And now we are just beginning to see someone new, and this psychologist, Dr. B., doesn’t seem to think that Dr. P’s diagnosis is correct. There have been other words floating around. And these words, these possible diagnoses—these disorders, as some might call them—have been weighing heavily upon me.

And then something happened. I don’t know what, exactly--maybe it was sitting with these words and realizing that they are just words. Maybe it is that I am beginning to understand that a diagnosis is always subjective. Perhaps it is that I am beginning to realize that a diagnosis is simply a lens through which certain behaviors can be better understood and managed.

What happened was this: I was sitting at dinner listening to some crazy story from my creative, passionate, unique Luke, and it was as though something inside me shifted, and I all at once became thankful for everything that he is, for all of him, the whole package. And it is to my shame that I must admit that I could not say this before.

It was as if the world tilted just a little bit, or my eyes focused just a little more. There was some small change, some shift of molecules or atoms or parts of some kind, and my world is now a little bit different. A little bit better.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Biblical Free Association

Henry is “reading” to me from his children’s Bible. I asked him if I could type what he is saying so that I could put it on my blog, and he said yes. I’m trying to keep up.

The handers was the may
He wanted it so badly
It was already God
And then the angels went to God and he was already there
One big woman burped like a chicken
And then the woman came up and it was all a chapter number 6
I’ll find God
And then God was on a boat
And then he was a bigger jote
Then there was God
His friends was peeking in the castle of God
And then the wizard was a saint of God
And there was a trail up to the sky where heaven is
It has a lot of maps because God is up a long way
Just paper meetings to God.

As usual, it is clear to me that Craig and I are doing a really excellent job with religious education in our home.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I feel so behind on blogging, but I want to start the new year off without a big cloud of should-be-blogging guilt, so I’m writing but excusing myself from any expectations today.

One of my goals for 2009 is to write more in general, this space included.

What I want most to remember about the start of 2009 are the songs that my boys wrote this morning in their new blank books. They built some instruments (from cardboard) and a stage (from chairs) and formed a rock band. Henry, my fickle little three year old, wrote the following:

Oh yah Poopy
Oh yah Poopy
I don’t like you.
You are a dumb nut!

But Poopy . . . I love you.

Henry is quick to forgive and forget.

Luke remembers and holds grudges. But he has a truly poetic soul. He wrote several songs this morning, but this is my favorite:

There’s a ghost town
In the back yard of my mind
A ghost town
With goats and boats
A ghost town
In the back yard of my mind.

Somehow that seems so appropriate at this time of year when I am feeling both nostalgia and a sense of a new beginning all at once.