When is Christmas?

At least 3 times a day, Henry and Owen ask if today is Christmas. We have tried giving them the numerical time frame between today and December 25 but the number is too big and abstract. We have tried to share that first comes the celebration of Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas so you have two holidays before TODAY is Christmas. But both of those other holidays are not as exciting as Christmas so they are easily skipped over. We tried using the temperature and trees as way to tell time with your senses: the trees need to be naked and there will be snow on the ground at Christmas time. But again that excitement factor for Christmas to just be here trumps all logic, reason, or cues.

So instead of tempering their excitement for the winter holiday, I am just going to fully embrace it. They are only this little for a short blink so if they want to gear up now for Christmas let it be!

We have started a list of all their “to-dos” for embracing the winter wonderland: make snow forts, build a snowman, eat snow, hold icicles, go for a sleigh ride, see Christmas lights, visit Santa, see a reindeer, eat cookies, bake cookies, eat cookies (they really want to eat their holiday joy!), wear hats and gloves, make a snow angel, make a snow ball, wear cozy footie pajamas, stay up late with mommy and daddy, open presents, and start a list of presents for Santa.

Their list though they refuse to write down. Instead, they get an idea for something that they would love to open on Christmas morning like: Batman Lego mini-figures or any number of little toys they saw in the Lakeshore Learning magazine that came to our house and they immediately run to the chimney. They grab ahold of the fireplace hearth gate and say, “Hello Santa, could I have a Batman Lego mini-figure for Christmas, please? ::they pause::  “Thank you.” And off they scamper back to the playroom and share that they think Santa will say yes. It is the cutest little thing and it is getting me really really excited for the season they are longing for so much.

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One time I saw a psychic

I thought about that one time a lot this weekend. About 10 years ago, on a super rainy afternoon (I think maybe even a tropical depression was sweeping across Boston), David and I and a friend went to see a psychic downtown. It was a creepy event: gray skies, torrential rains, and the storefront sitting directly across the street from a colonial period burial ground. What brought us there? Our friend had shared about her previous experience in which the psychic saw deep into her past in explicit and concrete ways and even made not-so-soon-into-the-future predictions that rang true with her head space for the decisions that needed to be made. As a total skeptic, I thought it would be more fun than anything else to get my tarot card read and check out that one-time experience of psychic predictions.

The space was exactly as you might imagine it. Dark lighting, some old thread worn carpeting, and lots of decor of stars, moons, and other celestial bodies filling the room along with various pillows of what was supposed to be lush and plush ornamentation but read more like a Pier 1 clearance aisle ransacked. We sat on chairs, that reminded me of seats from the local Columbus Hall,  in the waiting space behind a silk screen partition for our turns. The psychic was a heavy set man, probably in his mid thirties. I was beckoned over to his folding table covered in a tapestry tablecloth where he asked me to cut the deck of tarot cards to begin.

That is when things got weird. I remember at the time begin taken aback by many of the claims and insights he shared. The ones that have stuck with me throughout the years were:

  • Are you lactating? You are giving off a “milk making” vibe.

WTF!! This is crazy. Who has a milk making vibe? Did I smell like milk? I was not. Nor was I planning to have a baby any time soon since David and I only started dating.

  • You have a thyroid problem.

I do? Whoa….my recent blood work had not revealed this issue.

  • You live in Southborough.

I lived 10 minutes by T from this dude’s psychic location, not 20+ miles from downtown Boston

  • You will have four children but two of them will be girls’ and they won’t be your children.

Huh? I don’t want four children, that is just too many. Also, what does “won’t be yours” mean? Like will I steal them? 

I left the session dismissing all the crazy. While it was fun, it was also an apparent waste of my time. But his prediction sat with me because they felt so bizarre in how direct and confident he was in delivering them. Every time they crept back into my mind, I would remind myself that of course he needed to share confidently whatever crazy story he was spinning because otherwise he would not have a “job.”

So ten years later, perhaps if I bend around the tale a little you can make the argument that all of his predictions ACTUALLY came true.

  • I nursed both boys and it was a relatively easy experience though exhausting. It felt really awesome to accomplish that despite early troubles getting started and working full-time.
  • When I was pregnant with Henry and Owen, I did have thyroid problems and now who knows potentially I might see my thyroid crop up again on to the “naughty” list of organs not doing their job.
  • While I don’t live in Southborough, I do live way outside of Boston. Perhaps he got the town’s name wrong but knew that my true point of settling would not be within the confines of the metropole.
  • I have two sons. This should come as NO surprise to anyone. BUT I do have 2 goddaughters. When Avery was born, my brother and sister-in-law asked me to take on this super special role and then just this past weekend, I was asked a second time to be the godmother to my bestie’s baby, Juliet. So I have 4 children but the two girls are technically “not my children.”

Who would have thought that a kooky visit to a psychic might turn out to have been 100% valid over the course of a ten year landscape….or perhaps I am just remembering it that way, haha.

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Too much fun in the California sun

Sitting here on the red eye back is not fun. Owen screamed for twenty minutes while thrashing about like a tuna fish hauled out of the sea and slapped onto the deck. The whole scene was quite horrifying for us. Although, thankfully, Henry remained unalarmed while he watched some shows and snacked on chips during Owen’s epic airplane meltdown. Finally little man gave up the ghost and passed out on the floor between our row and the traumatized passengers in front of us. Henry graciously put himself to sleep and no joke slipped on his complimentary night mask and out he went. And I drank a mini bottle of champagne and stayed wide awake for our cross continental journey. Because at any moment the situation could turn and I needed to be ready to pounce on any screamer!

But the now few minutes of silence before we begin our initial descent has me reminiscing about our SoCal adventure. Every time we visit, I just want to pick up the fam and move out to this coast. It is just so darn beautiful, tropical feeling, and the amount of fun we have with our family slipping into their daily lives for a few days is always beautifully awesome. We were out in the sun everyday exploring SoCal and trying new things with the boys from a visit to Legoland to ocean kayaking and SUPing, we tired ourselves out but enjoyed every minute of the family time. The kids fell even more in love with their cousins and I know they will be missing them super hard until we see them again in November.

Thursday moments: the carnival addition

Yesterday we snuck off to a little carnival in the next town over. We had driven by it for two days and the boys looked longingly at the lights and spinning metal. It was a really good choice to go! They loved it. While most rides were geared toward the older, more adventurous, and less prone to nauseous rider, there were 6 the little boys could do. They bounced and twirled along happily, although the little roller coaster gave them a bit of a scare. But their favorite ride of all was zooming down the super slider on a burlap sack. They both surprised me so much with what they were willing to try. They had both had their eye on that slide and I hesitated thinking there was no way they would climb the tall ladder let alone go down the slide itself. They proved to me that as a parent my job may be to keep them safe but it is also important to get out of their way so they can step out of their comfort zones all on their own! The night ended in ice cream and those are the best nights.

The summer solstice was 2 days ago

Tracing my finger lightly around Henry’s chin, cheeks, and forehead and down his nose and across his lips, he giggles and I remember doing this with my Nanny. It is a silly little game and, at the time, I thought it was the most luxurious thing to get your face tickled endlessly. And it is. I used to think, how did my Nanny have the stamina to tickle my face for what seemed like hours while I  laid in her lap and laughed and relaxed. Then sitting there with Henry and Owen, it dawned on me. Here I was with her endless stamina to tickle their little faces because I love them so darn much and they were clearly enjoying the little “spa” treatment and because I was SO DARN tired from the day, days, and weeks of the past month that I would have tickled those peanut faces for the whole day if it meant I too could rest a little.

Exactly 30 days ago, we packed up the family and went to LA to join in my father’s retirement flight from Unite Airlines. After working for 35 years in aviation, it was time to hang up his wings. The FAA regulates that at 65 years old, captains and co-pilots must step down from the flight deck and this legislation pained my father. A truly passionate and gifted captain, he was not exactly ready spiritually to comply. We spent a few days in SoCal with family celebrating this momentous event. As a chief pilot said to my father, “The sign of a great career in this industry is an uneventful one, thank you for for having a great career.” While there together as a family, we tackled jet lag, a desire to really go all out and all in for this special lifetime event, and a spectrum of emotions as we watched our dad come in to LAX for the last time at the helm and prepare for his return to his base in EWR. The morning of, our dad saw a number of friends in the terminal who came to shake his hand and clap him on the back. He boarded the plane and took control of the ship for 5 hours. The landing greased into New York and he received a round of applause not only from the passengers who each shook his hand but also when he came up out of the jetway. More family came to celebrate and it was a really good time.  It was such a beautiful and incredibly proud moment for him and for us. One day, and not in the proverbial way, my dad and I will have to sit down and write his stories of flight down. I imagine something titled “Confessions from the Flight Deck,” in which we curate his hilarious tales from 35,000 feet because my dad was not only the epitome of professionalism in flight but also a character and a truly a humorous raconteur!

Once we got back to Boston, it was time to close out the school year. The last week and a half of school is obviously incredibly exciting because summer vacation is so close BUT standing in between a teacher and a much needed break is a mountain of grading, a pile of finals, a heap of comments to write, and way too many meetings to sit through. The workload always feels insurmountable and the pressure of the final due dates makes me grow “Bertha.” Who is Bertha? Well she is more of a what. Bertha is my shoulder knot. David has often commented after an encounter with Bertha that I have a lump of cement in my shoulder blade. Every end of the school year, I sit at my desk with clamped shoulders while grading furiously. This position and those stress levels form Bertha who causes me literal sleepless nights and takes away my ability to turn my head from side to side. As the graduates of the class of 2018 threw their caps off, some tears fell down my cheeks, and I pushed “submit” on all the grades and finals, only then can Bertha slowly dissipate.  Goodbye Bertha, goodbye this school year, and hello to the next 11 weeks!

And then summer started!

10 days into summer and this feels like such a good one. Obviously summer vacation is always a good thing and time off with family is truly a gift that this profession gives in exchange for the high stakes and demands of the academic year. Jessie, Avery, and Smith arrived minutes after my final faculty meeting and stayed with us for 5 days. My underlining goal of their visit: Convince them that one day they should move to Boston because the city rocks, the people rock, and because we love them so much and just wish we had more family closer. Of course, leaving beautiful SoCal (or Florida for David’s side of the family) makes moving north a bit of a hard sell. Neither of our families’ current locations have snow or what I like to call wintry wonderlands, but Boston does have us and you can’t find that anywhere else, right? In wanting to show them the best of Boston we bit off a lot: Fenway Park, duck boats, Boston visits, Strawberry picking, late nights, 6 bottles of wine, lots of eating, even more snacking, and even more laughing making it hard to  say good-bye to them. It almost felt like we just live together now.

After teary goodbyes, the boys and I headed into our first 4 days of “Mom is at home season!” This year a bucket list of fun and breezy summer activities will guide our time. And we already ticked off two items: a trip to the Roger Williams zoo and a morning at the lake. The beauty of this year’s summer bucket list is that it is short. Potentially only 10 line items but most of them will definitely be repeated especially if they involve the oceanside. So stay posted because now that I have returned to this page, I am planning on documenting more effectively this summer’s shenanigans and my next pottery class starts in two weeks so there will be more updates from the “artist’s” studio as well as some really cool new pieces I am trimming and glazing right now.

But back to face tracing. Sometimes when you do a lot in a short amount of time or when you are transitioning from the fast-paced, routine-based school year into summer you need a little buffer time to slow down, kick your feet up, and trace your babies’ faces. Maybe if I do this I can commit to memory their lines and curves more deeply and slow down this season.