It feels like everyone is cutting back this year, holding everything a little closer. Let's just say you could ask for anything, what would make your grown up Christmas list?
I'd have to say mine would be a mix of world peace with a magazine subscription thrown in just to make it interesting. How do kids always know what they want? and aren't afraid to ask. Maybe they are just better at dreaming than we are.
Do you want to try today? Here's mine.
A grown up Christmas list:
a vegetarian magazine subscription
a new start for our country where we all feel invested and can make a difference
a stellar year in my kindness work
a macro lens for my camera
guerrilla goodness moo cards
to know my neighbors better
lots of berries of every kind
the perfect pair of jeans
Okay, it's your turn to make a list in the comments. You can even be slick and leave the Supersisters page up so wandering family members and fellow gift givers can see. Do it, it's fun!
Last year Derek hit the sale rack at the hardware store after Christmas. I would normally freak out but he came home with boxes and boxes of Christmas lights for a dollar a piece. That was definitely thinking ahead. Fast forward to a few days ago when we decided to decorate the outside of our house for the holidays for the first time ever. It was nice to have those $7 worth of decorations.
To say that Ethan is in the Christmas spirit would be an understatement. So excited about the lights outside, he was jumping up and down when the last box was opened and he realized there were blue lights to go on a cypress bush.
Hold the phone. Blue lights?
He was delirious. I was devastated. BLUE LIGHTS???? His father came around the corner of the house.
Kristen: You bought blue lights. Blue lights. Blue lights?
Derek: They were a dollar?
Kristen: I don't care if they were free.
Derek: They aren't THAT bad.
Ethan: Mommommommommom. We are going to put the blue lights up now, right?
Derek started to laugh because he knew what would happen. How could I deny this cute face anyway?
If the colored lights made him happy, you should have seen his smile when the blue lights were fired up. And when I hung the red lights in his bedroom? Even better.
an unexpected handmade gift from a friend
a snuggling growing girl curled up in your mama arms all night long
slap happy children making stupid jokes from the backseat
old songs that make you feel hopeful and warm inside
a buddha baby girl quiet in your arms
a tickle fight with your kids and your neighbors
homemade chocolate chip cookies made from the recipe you stole from your sister
a Charlie Brown Christmas tree
a silly seven year old boy who's still waiting for his two front teeth
everything far from perfect, but plenty good enough just the same
What's making you joyful today?
Whoever decided that the mother should be granted responsibility for all of Christmas, I would like to strangle him. If this is just a law of the universe, I would like to protest. Would any one else like to stage a rally, a sit-in perhaps?
Shopping for presents, sending packages, creating memories, crafting meaningful gifts, parades and tree lightings, packing for a trip on top of laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and the icing on the cake, perfectly timed pink eye for 3 out of 6 family members. Why is it that there is always one moment during a holiday where all of it depends on you? and for that, you rant and rave for help or cry or wish you had some other position in your family. I pick Lucy's, she seems to be having the best time and is the most age appropriate ego centric.
I would be very happy to take lots of baths, play puppy dog and watch an ungodly amount of Martha Speaks.
What's the solution to the Christmas meltdown my friends? Phone calls to fellow supersisters to trade holiday horror responsibility stories, being pissy with your safest person (which is my husband), chex mix, and hiding for a while. Reading Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree or deciding if these are my biggest problems in my life than it can't be all that bad after all.
Have you had a Christmas meltdown yet this season or better yet, how do handle the curse of all of Christmas responsibility? plan ahead? don't have a baby 12 weeks before Christmas?
Even though he is a first born, I still love him. Check out my interview with Steve from the National Book Festival.
And you can find his DVD here. I'm not saying we are addicted over here. At all.
Good morning, Supersisters! I'm home from a very inspiring trip to New York City this week where I met with some amazing women who are doing their part to make this world a better place. (Special thanks to all those waitresses who kept pouring the coffee and didn't mind if we hogged the table for a couple of hours past our due!) This weekend's roundup has mothers (and dads) of young girls in mind. Enjoy!
Maggie Doyne is one of those young women that makes mothers like me want to track her mother down and find out what the secret formula is. When Maggie was eighteen years old, she decided to pack up her backpack and go on a trip around the world. Her adventures led her to a little village in Nepal where she found her heart's true calling--providing a loving home for orphaned boys and girls. With her life savings--$5000 she made from babysitting through her younger years--Maggie bought the land in the village that was calling to her heart, came home to form a non-profit called Blinknow.org and went back to Nepal to build the home her heart told her was required to make the world a more hopeful place for the lost children of her village. Don't miss this lovely story about everybody's daughter.
Emily McKhann is one of those mothers who is doing her part to make the world better for children by providing a place of connection, inspiration and meaning for their mothers. Kris and I first met Emily at a conference a few years ago and immediately adopted her into our circle of sisters. Since that meeting, Emily has done important work around making toys safe for kids, citizen journalism and continuing the reach of an important story about kindness and friendship. But what I love most about Emily is the way she is continuing to develop her heart and her soul so she can be the best mother possible to her own two little girls.
Looking for inspiration today in raising your own strong, brave girl? Check out these links:
If you are writing specifically about the experience of raising girls, please leave us your links in the comments below.
"Mom, I just want to go to Gina's house and have coffee." Lucy said on the way to pick up the boys from school. "And we can do cheers with our coffee."
The plan is a repeat performance of the gathering that morning which consisted of lattes, kids vanilla creamers, scones, babies and girlfriends. I too am wishing we could go for a second round.
I've been blissfully ignoring responsibilities to prop up babies and make funny faces in hopes of capturing the shot of baby friendship in my lens. It's a friendship starting with mothers that spills over to children.The kind where soulsisters shrink each other about marriage woes and talk extensively about how to hide postpartum fat while kids make glorious messes with watering cans. We dream up kindness schemes together and delight in each other's children. We hold the space for pain, hope, light and truth. We are in it together.
I'm starting to wonder how I ever did it without them. How do we live life carrying it all, it's just too much. We all need a tribe, a crew, a supersister somewhere.
Feel free to gush about the people by your side who make life lovely in the comments. Tell us what you love best about your supersister/brother.
I'll admit that I am a slacker mom. At least once every other week I get that nice little note from the preschool teacher reminding me yet again that I should be sending a drink AND a washcloth in Nathan's bag. I don't mean to be all non-green but if you end up going to the dollar store and buying an 18-pack of washcloths that you sometimes remember to throw in the wash, it seems like a wet paper towel might not be such a bad alternative.
My latest parental question mark regarding preschool is the fact that the snack calendar gets filled up before I can even add Ethan's name to it. This would be fine if there wasn't a grand ceremony involving snack and the snack giver as supreme distributor of the snack to all his appreciative friends. I already have a kid that wants to serve his friends but now I seem to be thwarted on the official end of giving to friends.
E: Mom.mom.mom.mom.mom. Can I bring snack to school? CanIcanIcanIcanI?
I've been trying to beat the calendar. I hover. Then I am scheduled for pick up instead of drop off and in one morning the calendar is full. I apologize to my disheartened son another month. This month I got clever. I just asked the teacher to add his name before she even posted the calendar and tomorrow is our big day.
Or as Ethan told his teachers on Tuesday, tomorrow's tomorrow. The next big hurdle was getting authorization for making chocolate chip cookies. You know, that whole ban on wheat, dairy, gluten, sugar, nut, egg thing. We got the okay and I promptly forgot about snack until last night at 7:15.
Is there anything more heart-warming as a mom than having your child be insanely excited about making and taking cookies to his friends at school? I just love this kid. I can't help it.
It goes like this.
Leah calls Madeleine to see if she'd like to come to some kind of activity or service with her at her synagogue. Madeleine is just about to give an enthusiastic yes when Leah insists her father or her mother need to talk to me on the phone. One or the other or sometimes both parents assure me no one is trying to convert Madeleine, that they are hardly Jewish themselves, that they're atheists really.
I tell them I'm not worried at all, and I'm not. In this family? If anyone at all decided they wanted to be religious, I'd be pleased as punch. All my efforts at spiritual formation have fallen flat from the very beginning.
Then Madeleine gets back on the phone, decides she wants to go anyway and has a wonderful time. That week, this week, and the next week. In no time, despite the endless disclaimers of Leah's incredibly nice, liberal and not very Jewish parents, Madeleine thinks conversion is the best idea since saving all her money with Carter to buy the Wii.
Madeleine: Mom, seriously, seriously. Can I convert to Judaism?
Me: Hmmm....Let me think about that. What's making you think you might like to?
Madeleine: Well, Jews have the best holidays and I love the singing and the dancing and the having a prayer to say for everything--did you know there's a prayer you can say for going to the bathroom?--that, and oh, I love Friday night dinners.
Me: Me, too. Okay, well, we should probably wait to talk to Dad and see what he says. There's no rush, right? I mean they probably aren't going to let you convert over night. I imagine it will take some time. There's probably some kind of big involved process, don't you think?
Madeleine: Oh, no, mom. Some guys--what do they call them?
Madeleine: Yeah, rabbis. Some rabbis make you wait forever, but there's one way you can do it that's really fast.
Me: Like a fast track to becoming a Jew?
If only the rabbis could hear us now.
The next conversation is on the phone again and it sounds like this:
Madeleine: Dad, dad, dad! Can I become a Jew?
Dave (after he makes her slow down and explain what she's talking about): I think that would be great. But don't you think that's the kind of decision you probably need to make when you're a grownup?
Madeleine, of course, is devastated, and feeling slightly persecuted.
She flails herself on the couch, despondent, while Carter and I watch her like television, wondering what we should do.
"Carter," she asks, opening her eyes for a moment. "Do you support me becoming a Jew?"
"I don't know what support is," he answers honestly. "I don't know how to help anyone."
Madeleine sighs, but she's not angry. "Mom," she says, turning to me with all the sobriety of an old soul. "Will you support me?"
"Yes," I tell her. "And I think Dad will, too."
This eases the pain for awhile and we turn our minds to other things like when we'll get a Christmas tree and if you can celebrate Christmas if you're Jewish and how problematic she thinks it might be if she becomes a Jew and then marries a Jewish boy and then loses her ties to the other religions completely and how nice it would be to be able to celebrate all the religions all at once instead of having to pick just one.
"I'm just that kind of person," she tells me. "I can't help it. I can't wait until Chinese New year and I just have to have a Christmas tree. Do you think we can get a Menorah?"
And I smile and nod and send her and her little heart, so full of wanting to belong and wanting to honor the sacred in each and every form, right upstairs where she'll sleep on all this and then some in her cozy pink bed. No matter what happens, I hope when she wakes she'll still be searching, still be hoping, still be counting on finding her place in a much bigger "we," in a space where her heart tells her there is always, always more.
We laid in bed staring at the ceiling early on a Saturday morning, every child still asleep.
"Do you wanna go...? I didn't even get to finish the sentence.
"No." he said quickly. We looked at each other with relief.
It was the morning of the local Christmas parade on a very cold and windy morning. The whole idea of dragging four kids out to sit in the cold for 3 hours sounded like a Christmas magic death wish.
We ended up making a fire, surfing the internet together while various children climbed in and out of our bed. It was blissful. Sometimes I wonder what we are thinking when we drag our kids to a hundred holiday events. Our happiest moments seem to be in a more low key setting: trimming the tree, wrapping presents, watching holiday movies together, just shootin' the breeze. There is so much anticipation and hype around the holidays but I think sometimes we might miss the point all together.
So here is a Supersister Holiday Challenge for my family and yours: Skip some event and replace it with something fun at home. Deciding the level of holiday intensity is up to you, some families still need to "do something" while others are happy to be quiet in a room together. I think we are going to play a new brain game Josiah and Jorge are currently obsessed with.
Got any suggestions for home and hearth family fun? Let us know in the comments.