Monday, December 19, 2011

Jest 'Fore Christmas

Six days until Christmas and I am standing at the kitchen counter slicing cucumbers when I hear the girls sneak into the kitchen. They walk up behind me, trying to be discreet, but I can hear their muffled giggles. They poke me. And when I turn around I laugh out loud. They are wearing striped stockings over their heads and they look like elves. Before I can say a word, they skip out of the kitchen.

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I turn back to my cucumbers but the giggling gets louder. So I peek into the living room to see them standing on the table, dancing to "Jingle Bell Rock." They are making faces in the mirror, hooting over how they look, and striking all sorts of goofy poses. All the drawers have been emptied of stockings and each pair is being used for the purpose of accessorizing.

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I hover by the kitchen door, watching. Not so close they can see me, but close enough I am now the one muffling my laughter. Finally, I grab the camera and ask them to hold still for one second.

One second was all I got.

The Holidays bring out a new level of silliness in my kids. Especially the week before Christmas. It's a giddy kind of energy. Shooting out of them all the time. Most of it is happy and good. They're so close in age that they share the same wondrous place of believing. Together.

We did have to teach Gordy and Spence that reindeer aren't giraffes. And they have no idea Santa can bring them more than a candy cane (yes, that's all they want - a candy cane). But basically, all five of our children are completely immersed in the magic.

This energy, however, can lend itself to plenty of not-so-good times too.

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Like Spencer hitting Gordon on the forehead with his train. (Notice the welt. Spencer has one too.) All kinds of giving and receiving are going on around here.

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Or Sami taking crayons to this pillow. (Anyone successfully gotten crayon out of fabric??)

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We've had some serious pouting, and a fair amount of whining and bickering. Despite all the talk of Santa keeping a wary eye and sending his very own Mr. Peeps to scout out our territory...

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We seem to break up more battles this time of year, calm down more craziness, and clean up more disasters than we do during the regular every-day.

So many, in fact, I started keeping a "Disasters" column in my gratitude journal. I figure when these five hoodlums are in high school, we'll sit around the dinner table and laugh ourselves breathless over all they did together.

Like Ali and Sami cutting each other's hair. (Last week I found their curly locks on the floor of their bedroom closet.) Or the boys rubbing Doug's toothpaste into their hair. Or finding an entire roll of toilet paper spun out to the cardboard, then a few minutes later finding an entire roll of floss looped into circles next to Spencer who is sitting on the bathroom floor, brushing his teeth with my toothbrush.

The "crazies" just come with the season. But so do a whole slew of magical moments.

My kids want to be good. I think all children do. And yet, this time of year it actually seems harder - with so much going on and so much anticipation.

I always get a kick out of this poem by Eugene Field. (Entire text here - because I only share an excerpt.)

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For Christmas, with its lots an' lots of candies, cakes an' toys

Was made, they say, for proper kids an' not for naughty boys [or girls]

So wash yer face an' bresh yer hair, an' mind yer p's an' q's.

An' don't bust out yer pantaloons, an' don't wear out yer shoes;

Say "yessem" to the ladies, an' "yessur" to the men,

An' when they's company, don't pass yer plate for pie again;

But, thinking of the things yer'd like to see upon that tree,

Jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!

- Eugene Field (1850-1895)

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Kristie's amazing gingerbread house

Yep, "jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!"

The girls are trying. Ali's letter to Santa was very honest.

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"I listen... sometimes."

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Here's Eliza telling Santa she's been a good girl. She's also telling him she wants a cook book. When someone asked her why, she said, "So I can cook with Mommy."

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Our tree is sparkling in the corner, lighting the whole living room. It's the last thing I turn off at night and the first thing I turn on in the morning.

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It has more home-made ornaments than ever before, and I cherish each one.

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Eliza made this tree-topper. Usually we place our angel on top, but I adore her star so much with its colored puff balls, I think we'll pull it out again next year.

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She's also been busy making cards for everyone she knows. This one is for Mom and Dad.

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And here's her desk, with a stack of cards she has written to her friends. I love how neatly cluttered her desk is. Everything important to her has a spot. Even kitty has a home in the right hand corner.

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A few days ago I found this large snowflake taped up in her room. Quite the creation. It looks like it belongs in a modern art museum.

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And, of course, there's the artwork that comes home from school each week.

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And the performances. I didn't know Eliza took froggie with her instead of baby doll until I saw her on stage.

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But some of the best moments for me are in the evening, when everyone comes bundling to the tree, trailing blankets and carrying pillows under their arms. They fluff up their little spot, and I pull up a chair so I can read to them. We're half-way through The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and we've read all our favorite Christmas picture books.

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No Gordon in these photos. He was a blur tonight, whooshing around the tree, singing three words over and over again in monotone. "Jingle... Bell... Rock." Apparently, the girls had a bigger audience than me.

I hope these last days "jest 'fore Christmas" have your children minding their p's and q's. But in case they don't, let's just keep telling ourselves it's part of the package. Part of the blessed package of creating memories and building a family. Even the disasters make memories. And a few tender minutes of sharing can redefine any day.

As for me, I'm going to mind my p's and q's too - and try really hard not to "bust out my pantaloons."

14 comments:

  1. I like Eliza's wish for a cook book -- my son likes to bake and cook a lot. Although I have to admit that I don't always have the nervs and patience to cook with him, I have to admit, that it is always fun when we do cook together. And it teaches him so much -- like appreciation of the food we eat.

    One of the cook books we use is this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Cook-Easy--Step---Step/dp/B004L2OLSU/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1324372467&sr=8-13

    We love the Chicken Fajitas, the Brownies, the Smoothies, the biscuit-creme (which he actually made for our dinner guests last weekend)... The recipes are easy to make, well explained, and kids can do them with a little help.

    My youngest one, by the way, makes the best pizza-dough ever, ;-).

    I love the reindeers that hang in your window, maybe, if I find brown paper bags (we are not much into lunch bags over here), we'll try to make some, too...

    Here are some pictures of what my kids made for their grandparents: http://fraumahlzahnsgrazerlei.blogspot.com/2011/12/hippie-engel.html Guess, which ones the kids like best, *ggg*??

    So long,
    Corinna

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  2. could there be more magic that kids camping under a lit tree? xox

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  3. Reading that poem is a Christmas Eve tradition in our family, going back for several generations. In fact, for Christmas this year each one of my siblings/nieces/nephews recorded a line and my brother meshed them all together into one video to send to our parents on Christmas Eve (they are serving a mission in Portugal). Michael's line, which he relished, was "Love to chawnk green apples and go swimmin' in the lake." Perfect. -- Bonnie

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  4. Hey, it actually published a comment for me! Woohoo! I guess I'm easier to swallow with a little anonymity. Ha ha.

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  5. what a fun happy Christmas post. I love that your gratitude journal has a space for daily disasters. That will be a source of laughs in the future.

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  6. The Kristencarol said:

    ****I love that your gratitude journal has a space for daily disasters.****

    I agree -- disasters are part of the fun, ;-). ... Well. ... Once you get over the fact, that it was... uh... well... a disaster at one point.

    No, seriously, it's wonderful when you are able to put the little, daily disasters into perspective, ;-).

    Did I ever mention how much I like reading this blog? You have a wonderful perspective on life and motherhood.

    So long,
    Corinna

    So long,
    Corinna

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  7. A Disaster Journal! What a FABULOUS idea!

    My girls enjoyed looking at your pictures with me.

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  8. Again, I agree with your words! I keep reminding myself that I wasn't a perfect child, so what makes me think my kids will be perfect. We are ALL works in progress.

    Where did you get Eliza's desk? I love it. Your kids are absolutley beautiful, by the way:)

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  9. So sweet. And seeing those Discovery pictures? Oh, it makes me HOMESICK! Ben's bringing home fun things from his school, but they're nothing like the Discovery art.

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  10. Love the story you tell in this post. But I will not forget Eliza's color block snowflake--that is so cool.

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  11. Corinna - what a great cook book suggestion. thank you! Your boys sound like amazing little chefs! Eliza hasn't cooked much yet - besides toast and cereal. But she's got a will and an imagination. So this should be a fun disaster - I mean experience. Did I say disaster? ;) And yes, disasters are just that - disasters in the moment. Hindsight offers much more humor. And I love your darling angels with their tinsel hair. A sweet gift for Omas and Opas. :)

    Cristie - yes, pretty magical. For them and me. xo

    Bonnie - okay, I'm dying that you guys recite this poem each year! It's rather obscure. I'm glad someone was familiar with it! And you're especially familiar with it! Of course Michael's line is "chawk green apples!" Isn't the phonic spelling a hoot? Loved your Christmas card. Agreed - let's get together before our husbands disappear again. And what's up with only being able to comment as an anon blogger? Can't figure that one out! Merry Merry to you!

    Samsel - Are you past the daily disasters now? Since your twinsies are five? Saw the line on my reader but haven't read your post yet. Happy Birthday Sunday! I love you.

    Tricia - you need a disaster journal too! I've seen some of your disasters. Let's hope someday all this crazy is as humorous as we think it'll be!

    Michelle - such a good reminder. Wait - we weren't perfect children? Wha? ;) Hoping I see you Friday. Love you.

    Kerri - ah, a Discovery Mom would recognize that art from a mile away. Yes, nothing in elementary school has equaled it yet. They love creating it and I love putting it up. Merry Christmas to you my friend!

    Liz - got your sweet Christmas card. You are the dearest soul. I love Eliza's snowflake too. ;) Wishing you a Merry Christmas! xo

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  12. Your girls with the striped stockings are just adorable! All your kids' artwork is just as precious as can be. I love Eliza's tree topper.

    As others have said before me, I think the idea of a column for "disasters" is just the ticket for a mom (of multiples especially). The toothpaste, the floss, the toilet paper! Whew! It sounds all too familiar...although they are mostly behind me now.

    I love how you capture so many moments with your children, both in word and in picture. The image of your children curling up under the tree to be read to is beautiful. They are so lucky to have you.

    Thank you so much for your kind comments on my blog. Your thoughtful words touched me.

    You are creating a beautiful season for your little ones. Merry Christmas, dear friend! xo

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  13. I love the colorful snowflake! Maddie used up nearly an entire package of construction paper last week making "flowers" that look exactly like that. She came asking for more because she was trying to make enough for all 16 kids in her school class. Tightwad me ruined all her fun. Then I apologized and asked her to hang her beautiful flowers on the wall so we could see them.
    Looks like you are making beautiful memories amidst the meltdowns this Christmas season. Love you tons.
    Ang

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  14. Love Best Christmas Pagaent Ever. Love it. And the movie is darling too. (And I don't often say that about movies!)

    Do write down the disasters, and as many of the funny moments as you can manage to record. I remember when my triplets cut each others hair--we didn't know it until we started seeing clumps of hair in strange places around the house, and then one day noticed one of them was looking suspiciously shabby!

    I really regret that I can remember so little from their younger years. I was in survival mode for so long, but still... Lately I've been going through old archived emails, pulling those out that mention anything about the triplets when they were little. Diaper blowouts, biting, funny songs, whatever. I plan to make a blurb book with pictures from the same time period as the story/anecdote/disaster. They are all precious to me as I read them....

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