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Five things

Life with kids

1. Do you see the Star Wars' Legos in the photo? There are Legos all over my house in the oddest places. As I stumbled into the bathroom early this morning I almost screamed and passed out after stepping on a little Hans Solo who was pointing his gun at my toilet.

2. My throat is sore. I've made it this far into spring without an allergy-induced respiratory illness of some kind, please let me make it to summer, pleaseohplease.

3. I was having trouble with my sinuses last night and sprawled out on the sofa and Chris made me hot chocolate. With marshmallows. That man.

4. Trying to teach an eight-year-old about the digestive system has made me feel sorry for all the times I laughed in biology when we talked about procreation.

5. There is clean laundry piled on top of my dryer, dust bunnies colonizing in the corners of my house, I'm exhausted, but it will be 80-degrees on Friday and the sunshine cannot come fast enough.    

A matter of three things

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If you've spent any amount of time reading this website several things will be very clear to you:
- I am completely neurotic
- I am a cynic
- I am (some would say irrationally) scared of flying

All of this came to a head the other day when I received an email from an organization inviting me to fly to India, all expenses, to write about this charitable organization's work and hopefully bring attention to the children who so desperately need sponsors. I am not going to lie: not four days before receiving this email did I tell Chris, upon watching a travel program together, that India is the last place on earth I would ever want to visit - unless for the sole purpose of finding and beating that outsourced Dell tech who smarted off to me last year when he said that my computer problems may be due to "the women and their silly typing with their long nails." That's when God up in the sky rubbed His big God hands together and laughed like a vaudeville villain and remarked "I'LL SHOW YOU" in a James Earl Jones voice.

I immediately came up with a mental list of reasons I cannot go:
- all of the bullet points listed above
- I hate curry
- I'm a germophobe
- Securing sponsorship or funds for Chris to accompany me
- terrorists
- being separated from my family
- possibly crashing into the sea which would really suck
- going with a group of total strangers
- the flight is over 30 hours

Chris says that it's a wonderful opportunity but that there is no way on earth he feels at ease with putting my 5'5" frame on a giant metal aircraft and launching me over two oceans to face the journey alone.

"No one can protect you like I can protect you," he said quietly, and when I rolled my eyes he was all "So they can say that crap in Twilight and you women swoon but when real actual men say it you roll your eyes? Good grief!"

So now we're feeling out some sponsorships for him to go because he insists on taking the bullets should we be ambushed by a group of terrorists while helping the children who are living in abject poverty. And also he would like to ride an elephant.

I told my mother, who is very much like Kath from "Kath and Kim," how long the flight was and she immediately launched into some story about how if you sit with your legs up for a period of time you will get blood clots in your legs and die! And the terrorists! And also the water! They don't have Imodium in India!

When I broached the topic with my children and pointed out where we would be on the globe and how they would stay with their grandparents Liam was all "SEE YA LATER!" and Ewan asked for me to bring him back a monkey. "With cymbals, mama."

The other night I spoke with the guy organizing the trip and I attempted to astound him with my neurosis. He answered all of my questions with a smile in his voice and I could tell that my concerns are ones voiced by others who've gone on previous excursions. I related my concern about terrorists and of falling out of the sky.

"I've practiced free-fall moves in my living room floor, I said.

"If you wear baggy clothes you'll fall slower" he replied.

He didn't make fun of me. Score a point towards going.

So the three biggest obstacles in my way are my anxiety, the cost factor of Chris accompanying me as his presence is sort of a make or break, and my concerns for the boys.

I'm being funny about all of this but if you looked at my soul it has the face of Shelley Duvall right as Jack Nicholson is breaking through the bathroom door in the last action sequence of "The Shining." In non-dramatic layman's terms: I am scared.

Mother Theresa once said that if there is a hell on earth, Calcutta is it. I would be going to a hell on earth to observe and document the divine and hope even when it seems least likely to be present. I'd be going to write about the help that the sponsoring organization does for these children and hopefully encourage more people to sponsor children in third-world areas. The vast disparity in cultures does not intimidate me; the knowledge that I will have my heart wrenched from my chest and wrung out does not give me pause. Leaving the protection of my country's borders during a very weird time, leaving my young children (which pains me to even write it), and breaking out of my own head all give me concern. I'm a prayerful person; it's something about which I will have to pray more. It's the opportunity of a lifetime, yet, so is raising my family, should my biggest fears manifest.

I don't know what I am going to choose but I have to give an answer by Wednesday. If I decide in the affirmative I'll give the rest of the details then. 

I don't know why I'm presenting this to you ... for comfort? For some magic comment that will erase my anxieties? To ask what you would do? All of these and yet none of these, but I want to hear it anyway. Please don't judge me for having honest concerns.
(And please also say a prayer for us.)

Back to the grind in 2009

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coloring piano

We're getting back into our daily lesson routine after a two week break. Ewan, at his request, started his kindergarten curriculum today. It's a giant game to him; he wants to see how many games he can play and worksheets he can complete in one sitting and I'm all "Dude, that's not the point."

I always feel slightly depressed right around New Year's, mostly because that which I left unresolved in the previous year nags at me. I felt less like that this year because 2008 was a totally heinous year punctuated with bits of goodness. I happily plunged into 2009. I'm not one of those people who makes resolutions (I've an ever-evolving list of things I'd like to accomplish. I just try to not get overwhelmed and do my best each day. Aw. How very NBC "The More You Know" of me) but I jotted down a few to break with tradition:

- Refuse to tolerate people who are intolerable.
- Realize that it's OK to be cynical sometimes.
- Make my Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark last until February.
- Be selective about those I let into my life.
- Be unashamed about watching Rock of Love: the Tranny-Clown Trainwreck Tour Edition.
- Make my kids fold and put away their own clothes no matter how awful they are at it.
- Resist the urge to go through their drawers while they are outside playing to refold everything they just put away.
- Use desire, not obligation, as motivation.
- Drink my first bottle of Ski.

Thank you to everyone who contributed positivity this year, be it via comments, emails, show calls, friendship, etc. xo

Fa la la la where's the eggnog?

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O tennenbaum

I was going to post some shots of our tree this year but then I realized that it looks pretty much the same as last year's tree (minus the shelves which fell after the earthquake resulting in plaster repair) so there you go.

We not going over the top for presents this year as we're reigning in our Christmas spending because:

a) the economic times have put stress on small businesses, of which we are one
b) we're hoarding what we have so we can ride this economic downturn.
c) hookers and blow
d) answers A and B

It dovetails nicely with my theory that we focus too much on material excess anyway, but now at least I have a solid reason to back it up and not seem like a tightwad.

We're changing things up this Christmas by going 99% local and/or handmade. I'm hoping that our inability to get fancy with presents is offset by the fact that an inordinate amount of love and thought has gone into each gift. I'm not going to get into the details of it all considering my immediate family reads my website, but we are rolling up our shirtsleeves and playing the part of Santa's workshop elves. It's been a bit of a dream to not have to go into a mall and shop. I can share what the boys are receiving: I've been making Ewan a teddy bear out of leftover fabric I had stored away in my office; each of the boys will receive arm warmers made from yarn they chose themselves; I burned Liam a disc of Dropkick Murphys tracks from my iTunes collection; each of them will get a couple of games, provided by Nintendo, for the Wii; we're also looking at getting sturdy, but inexpensive bunkbeds for the boys off of Craigslist as Ewan has outgrown his toddler bed.

I've compiled a list of local, handmade items that I am drooling over, some of which may be (or already is) under our tree. All are local and handmade. None of these people are paying me (or even know I'm making this list). Mamalogues Buying Local and Handmade Gift Guide 2008:

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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"