Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Rocks - Part Deux

As promised in my Christmas Rocks - Part I post, here a few more things that make me smile about this season:

1. Cheesy Christmas movies. The cheesier the better. Lifetime channel is especially good at these. I love watching Christmas specials, classic Christmas movies, and Christmas theme sitcoms. Bring on the Christmas miracle tears!!

2. Santa hats. I really enjoy wearing a Santa hat out in public. I've been doing this for years, I've worn it to school, to work, to friends' houses, shopping (yes, I'm that ridiculous person at the drug store wearing a Santa hat!). It just makes me feel festive and happy.

3. Christmas cards. I LOVE getting Christmas cards (hint, hint, to those of you that know me personally). Unfortunately, I'm terrible about sending them but love receiving them. I really try every year to get them out in time for Christmas but end up inevitably sending them late (it's still OK if as long as they get there by New Year, right?).

4. Snow. I know this is not directly related to Christmas but the two together makes me happy. I remember making a few snow men while growing up and loving every minute of it. If it snows, I'm going to try and muster up the energy to get outside and show my boys how to make an awesome snow man (this might be a little too ambitious but I'm going to give it a shot!).

5. Santa Claus. This is the first year that my oldest son can understand the whole Santa Claus thing and it's been fun telling him about it. My brothers and I never had that growing up and even though it doesn't feel completely natural to me, I still love the whole idea of Santa Claus and will try my best to bring the wonder of that night to my boys.

6. Ornaments. Ornaments are one of the best parts of the entire Christmas decoration madness. I love bringing out the box after the tree is securely in its spot. Taking each one out and deciding where to put it on the tree is such a fun ritual and now with the boys, it's Kodak moments all over the place. Every years, we get a few more from my mother in law which is so fun for the kids. This year for the first time (again I'm probably being unrealistically ambitious here) I'd love to sit with the boys and make a few. If you have any good ideas for simple ornaments that we could make, please let me know!

7. Free Pass. I'm kind of a corny person by nature but I try to hold my corniness back most of the year but during this season I feel like I have a free pass to be as corny as possible! Singing foam snowmen? Sure, why not!

8. Being Nice. I love that during this time, everyone is just a little nicer. We smile more at each other, say hello to total strangers more and even throw in a Merry Christmas here and there!

9. Red. This might sound silly but I love seeing the color red everywhere. Especially those big red bows they have everywhere. And I wear a lot more red - sweaters, scarves, socks, hats (including my Santa hat) - which makes me feel extra festive!

and finally,

10. Books. I really enjoy reading Christmas themed books to the boys. They are so fun to read and the boys just love them. Last year a friend of ours gave us Olivia Helps With Christmas from the Olivia series and it ended up being one of our favorites. It's SO cute.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Going Against The Crowd on Jennifer v. Angie

A few days ago I wrote a list of seven random things about myself. One of the items was my preference for Angelina Jolie over Jennifer Aniston. Well, since writing that one item, I've seen the reaction to both my post and the post of my friend Kate from The Big Piece of Cake written today on this issue and it has made me a little crazy.

What I'm about to say, I say knowing that it may alienate most if not all of my handful of wonderful readers (I seriously love you even if you disagree with me). But I thought it would be better to get it off my chest than be a coward and stay silent.

Brad and Jennifer were married. Then Brad started working with a woman named Angelina. Brad and Angelina formed a bond during their work. Brad left his wife Jennifer and married Angelina. Brad and Angelina spent their life (and incredible amounts of their time and money) helping others (the examples are numerous and truly inspiring) and having and adopting beautiful children. Jennifer was crushed by the divorce and spent her time making good-to -very- mediocre movies and making bad choices in men. I mean really, John Mayer? Have you heard the things he says about women? He's a total player, immature, partier and THAT's who she chooses to date, break up with, then date again?

OK, based on this scenario I do not get why women rally behind Jennifer like she's some kind of saint and vilify Angie with such force.

I find it abhorrent that women are so quick to blame the other woman and don't say a damn thing about the guy. To me, it's very sexist. HELLO, it was Brad that decided to leave his wife and go with another woman. Also, what if it was Brad who went after Angelina? Is it her fault that Brad was attracted to her or that they felt a connection? Maybe Brad and Jennifer had issues with their marriage long before Brad met Angelina and he would have left her anyway?

I think it's such bull that Angelina's assumed to be the predator. But EVEN if she was the predator, he could have said no, just like millions of men that get hit on by women every day but say no because they love their wives (yes, these men exist).

Listen, Angelina Jolie may not be an angel - but she's not the devil either. And she can't be held completely responsible for someone else's hurt feelings. Brad Pitt was committed to that marriage - not his new girlfriend. And the press is the one that has dragged this on for years - not Angelina Jolie.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Sad Walk Away From Your Baby

This morning when I left my son at preschool I had a little breakdown.

The tears were not for my own child. They were for total strangers. For a child that I've never met and a mother that I had never seen before in my life.

A new child started in my son's preschool class today. As I walked up to hand my son over to the teach, I saw a mother and her beautiful little girl coming towards the teacher. The little girl began to cry before her mother even started the separation ritual that we all get to know when we leave our children at preschool.

Even after my son had already gone in (he's used to the routine by now, hug-kiss-go), I still stood there watching the little girl crying and desperately reaching for her mother who was slowly walking away from her. I looked at the mother and saw that familiar expression of devastation, loss and determination.

I turned back to the little girl and she was still crying her little heart out and struggling to get out of the teacher's arms. Every fiber of her being seemed to be saying, "please don't leave me here alone mommy! I need you. Don't abandon me."

I was frozen in place watching her pain. And as her tears were rolling down her chubby red cheeks so were mine. My heart just broke for her. So scared. So alone. So young. And also for her mother who had to let her go and watch her little girl in so much pain.

I remember the sadness and heartbreak I felt the first time I left my son in preschool as if it was this morning. And I don't look forward to leaving my other baby next year for his first day of preschool.

So for now, I will just cherish having my youngest at home and not having to watch him cry his eyes out as I walk away from him so that he can start his independence.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas Rocks - Part I

This is going to be the first in a series of posts on how much I love Christmas!

I love everything about the entire Christmas season but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Building your own gingerbread house (I've never done this before...we usually buy one...but this year, I'm determined to build one with the kids. Feel free to send me advice on how to do this because I have NO clue!).

2. The tree (who doesn't love a Christmas tree? Every year, including this one, I insist on the real thing and every year by the end of the season, I understand why people buy fake ones!).

3. Christmas/holiday music (I can't get enough of it...especially the classics by Sinatra, Elvis, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby etc.)

4. Decorations (I love decorating the tree, the fireplace mantels, the front door, the stairway...basically anything that will bring more cheer to the house).

5. Joy (the feeling of joy throughout the season is palpable and there is a real spirit of generosity and kindness which I find inspiring).

6. Cookies (again I've never made Christmas cookies before but this year I'd love to make a few kinds with the kids. Please send me your favorite Christmas cookie recipes...I promise to try and make them and report back to you how I do!).

7. Presents (this is not my favorite part since I'm a terrible shopper but I really like giving the people I care about something special for the holidays...this year I'm going to try to do more handmade or photo/writing based gifts).

8. Parties (we don't go out that much but during the holidays I love getting all dressed up -bring on the red lipstick!!! - and going to fun holiday parties).

9. Lights (I love the lights everywhere - streets, trees, building, windows - I don't understand why we don't do that all year round? It's so fun and festive!).

and finally....

10. It's the perfect excuse to eat, drink and be merry!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Bedtime Dance

Do you do the night time dance?

The nightly dance with your children. The tug of war of bedtime.

In some ways, it was easier when they were babies, when they couldn't talk back to you or debate the merits of staying up past their bedtime.

Now they can talk and think, and the combination of the two produces some interesting exchanges. The creative excuses to stay up a little longer both make me laugh and drive me crazy. The eternal thirst of these little ones, "I need some waaaater mommy!" How much water could their little tummies possibly hold?

You finally finish the umpteenth book or song and you're just about to cross the bedroom threshold to glorious freedom when you hear your child's sweet (whining) voice, "mommmmmeeeee, one more book (or song, or I need water, or I need the lights on, or I need to tell you something, or I want daddy...)."

Suddenly they want to discuss the world's mysteries with you and you're torn between listening to your child's creative delay tactics and saying goodnight and closing the door behind you.

I listen when I'm feeling patient and easy and close the door when I am in the rules-are-rules frame of mind.

How about you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Living The American Dream

I always wanted to be an American.

My mom often tells the story of how when I was five years old, I walked into a grown-up family discussion about how my mother's brother could do certain things that my mom and her sisters could not and interrupted everyone by stating loudly and firmly that I thought it was not right that "boys and girls were treated differently."

You see, I grew up in a country that provided different rights to men and women by law and by culture. And even at five years old, I knew that it wasn't right. My mom teases me about how I embarrassed her during that gathering and numerous others with my outspoken manner and my fearless attitude. At that time children were to be seen and not hear (let alone heard interrupting adults talking about serious family matters) but from the beginning I wrote my own rules.

I wanted to be American before I even knew what that really meant or would entail. I wanted freedom. I wanted equality. I wanted to be treated with the same kind of respect that I saw being bestowed upon the men in my country.

I wanted the dream.

Thanks to my parents, I had the opportunity to come here and live that dream. The dream of opportunity, of dignity, of self reliance, of equality and most importantly of freedom.

I never take for granted what this country has given me.

I waited many years for the chance to vote and now that I have that right, I don't take it for granted.

I vote because it's my right, my privilege and my duty as an American.