Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Moment with the Holiday Munchkins

I love the holidays. I sometimes think I live for when the calendar turns to November and I can try out all the recipies I've collected. I love to pull out the baking flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and create magic. I am like any good artist, once I come up with a masterpiece, I want to share it. My love of people and love of the holidays and fellowships make our house a little full and a little crazy from Thanksgiving to Kwanzaa. It is joyous to me to hear the mingling of soprano voices with tenor voices, all creating a beautiful symphony. I can turn and see little ones and old ones and every mix in between. It is a favorite time of year.

This year, as usual, Thanksgiving started the holiday season. We have been downsized as one son is in the Navy and the other is in college. They couldn't make it home so my youngest son was elevated to the role of oldest and designated kiddie entertainer. He eagerly took on his role unil the little munchkins proved to multiply and be more than he thought.

To pay homage to my son's take on this year's latest holiday, here is his first blog:

Family. Isn't it great? Everybody bonds with one another. Strong relationships are made stronger, wouldn't do anything to harm them. You cherish every moment with them. The best time that you're together is on the holiays.
What other family holiday is as great as Thanksgiving Day! The many aromas mixing in the air with the first crispness of fall. No school for a few days, nice and quiet. A couple of your extended family come over to share their thanks. The children eat quickly to make sure not to miss any of the many specials on TV. The adults share meaningful conversations over sweet potato pie and the teenagers cocoon in the family room, chillin' and catchin' up with each other. This is the ideal, right?
On MY Thanksgiving, everybody's other fifth cousin's son and his kid comes over. There are kids running up and down the crickety old stairs, knocking crystal vases over and tipping silver food trays off the table. Their pilage seems unending, how can this be?
Me, being the designated teenager-in-charge, takes this personal. It is an assault on my "big man on campus" status. It is finally my year to move from the kiddie table! It is my responsibility to restore the peaceful equilibrium that is my house before the descending of the little creatures. I try my best, but the madness overpowers me.
I tried to escape for a moment by running to my room. I did a Heisman-trophy worthy turn and swiftly flew up the stairs to my room, my inner sanctum. I would escape the imminent death of the little hands and feet. I dashed to my room and carefully opened the door, I peaked my head in and couldn't believe my eyes! The little demons had run past me and were in my room! Not only that, but in the matter of nanoseconds, they destroyed every ounce of careful, teenage boy organization that was my cocoon!
The little urchins went into the deep, inner crevaces of my closet and pulled out forgotten blankets, old toy boxes, and half-aware army men. The kids who were pretending to be more sophisiticated than their younger company, the 9 and 10 year olds, had opened my brand new video game! The box was disregarded, shrewn among the chaos of the floor. My house was nice and toasty, warm, wonderful smells everywhere, but I stood alone in that room, chilled. FROZEN!!!
I was astonished that such small children could create such a catastrophe, and all before the second dessert! Why didn't my older brother warn me about this?! I was burrowed deep in my mind, trying to think of a way to pry these malicious leeches out of my room's sanctuary. I turned around the wreckage and thought about this until it finally came to me! I had a, "by George, I think I've got it," moment. SWEETS! What do little kids cherish more than life itself!
"Ice cream downstairs!" I awaited their response. It was like one of those movie split seconds and then they recognized me. I watched their eyes become as big as saucers, even the pretend-sophisticated 10 year olds couldn't resist. They quicky scattered like mice on a midnight raid when the lights are turned on. The herd could be heard tumbling down the wooden stairs, one big blur of bounding legs and swinging arms.
"Whew," I sighed with relief as if a burden had been had...until I turned around.
My relief at their departure was short lived as I surveyed the destruction of the kiddie tornado. I reassured myself that it could be rebuilt. This called for sugar, I closed the door and flew down the stairs,momentarily a kid myself.
There they all sat, sweet, like little angels. The invasion had ended and the little urchins were happily spooning vanilla ice cream into their sticky little mouths. I glared at them, the adults all "oohing and aahing" over how precious they all looked. I silently swore vengence, there would be another holiday, and I would be ready for them.
The night wore on and it was time for everyone to go. I hugged my ever-expanding, good natured family and even squeezed a few of the little demolision team, fifth cousin's son's kid included. I said my goodbyes and closed the door. Ah, quiet again. The harmony of the household was restored, I would be able to sleep late, then it hit me. There was only one problem to the promise of a peaceful night...the dishes!
"Hey mom, is the dishwasher working!"
Joshua is the writer's youngest son and designated teenager at home, this is his first blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Morning Time

I wake up in the morning with one eye open. Sleep is a negative in my rest bank account. It is 5:30am according to the fluorescent blue of my cell phone clock. The room was still dark, the reminder that the Midwest is part of that dreaded "daylight savings time" and even a month later, my body is still not adjusted.

My eyes are instantly assaulted with the bare light bulb glare of my husband's closet just to the left of the bed. Who really runs at this hour in the last days of November? I mumble a groggy, caffeine-deprived good morning and stumble to the adjacent bathroom. After I complete that description-not-needed morning ritual, I brush the fuzzies off my teeth, splash cold water on my face, and make the trek downstairs in this mid-century home. Every step on the old steps creaked under my weight and I'm only a buck forty.

I debated on turning on the kitchen light when my indecision was solved when my husband, winter running gear-clad, flicked the switch, flicked me a quick kiss, and ran out the door in the early morning blast. He would chase the wind for a half-hour and I would chase away the fuzzies over a latte.

The hands on the ends of my arms know their duty, turn on the Breville Espresso maker, push the button on the grinder, my Ethiopian Yigarchaffe at the ready. I see my hands open the refrigerator and grabbed the chilled frothing mug and Full Circle 2 % Organic Milk. As I pour the milk in the mug and look at my coffee-shop envious display of syrup, I contemplate the mood I am in today. I watch my hands again, there is something about my hands that intrigue me this morning, I can't place the thought. Anyway, I start the familiar whirl of the frother, watching the creamy white substance foam and swirl. I take it away just as it is a rich thickness, perhaps I am an undercover barista today. I fill the cup and pack down the fine, ground, bean that promise to take me from sleep to steady in a few moments. I prepare the machine, push the button, and watch like a kid, waiting to lick the spoon, as the foamy brown dips and circles in the double shot glass. My moment of quiet bliss is rewarded with a nice creama at the same time as the sun peaks through the 100 year old trees in my back yard.

I love my lattes, they are my guilty pleasure. This morning I survey the row of mugs and antique tea cups to decide which one would hold my precious libation. I decide I miss my son so I grab my "United States Navy Mom" mug and pour in the Torani Hazelnut syrup. I have a routine with my morning ritual and just as the creama is right, I turn off the machine and quickly pour it into the waiting mug. My froth has settled the way I like it, my lattes are probably 1/2 latte and 1/2 cappachino, I really like the foamy cap so I stir it up and pour it in. I only the whole world could settle their differences and become a pretty swirl like my espresso and milk.

Again, I watch my hands grab the towel and clean off the frothy machine, turn it off, grab the mug and take that first sip, I sigh, the morning will be fine, I can make breakfast now. The kettle is brewing for a bowl if instant oatmeal, it is a cold morning in St. Louis. Just as the whistle announces its readiness, my husbands returns sweaty from his run. I hand him the ice cold water waiting for his arrival. He gulps it down, utters a thanks, and steps into the dining room to record his progress, he is training for a 5K next May.

I prepare the two bowls of oatmeal, not for me, for my husband and my 13-year-old-son who loves sleep more than video games. I knocked on his door and flicked the switch, "good morning, breakfast is ready, time to get up." I think he already woke up because he is fully clothed but hiding under the blanket, trying to steal a few more seconds of slumber.

He comes rambling down the stairs to a bowl of steamy and creamy maple brown sugar oatmeal. As a treat, I gave him a little white chocolate cocoa perfectly frothed. He will brave the 7:30am bus with his belly warm. I stand back, near the window, of this old house and watch these men eat. I smile to myself, I will have the house to myself soon. They are each engrossed in their thoughts of the day, my son with the boot-camp weight of a bookbag and my husband on his laptop checking emails. We all stand and say our prayers before the bus, my son looks at me and says, "its 7:25 mom"as if I didn't know it took him forever to eat. We still pray and he is tapping his foot, thinking I don't notice. It is our routine, our moment to stop and thank God for the night and ask Him to guide us through the day. My son ends his "Amen" with a simultaneous peck on the cheek and a burst out the door, I still look at the door and try to figure out how he managed that. He did an Olympic sprint to the bus stop, it was cold and he only wore a hoodie. I stopped telling him to grab his heavy coat, "its not winter yet" is his usual response. Oh well, I close the door and sip the rest of my latte. I look at the empty mug with a sense of satisfaction and a sense of sadness, my bliss is over.

My husband comes downstairs with his linebacker shoulders in a nice pinstriped suit. He is ready to charge into the halls of academia and mold the young minds of tomorrow. He gives me a hug, picks up his briefcase and struts out the door. The house is silent. I stand in the foyer and look to the right as the sun streams into the living room windows. I go into that room, surrounded by books, and just stand there, it is quiet. I think I will make another latte, I only have an hour before the girls wake up and my happy, chaotic, hilarious, active, and exhausting day begins.