Saturday, December 31, 2005

Looking back on 2005, I did pretty well on the resolution front. I eat plenty of fruit. I let go of the more minor annoyances. I'm more embracing of my own personality quirks. Bonus: we started practicing Buddhism, making this my most spiritually rewarding year to date.

I'm happier. I think I'm more open and easygoing. I'm also about fifteen pounds heavier. But whatever. I'm still cuter than Janice Dickenson.

This year, my plans involve getting in shape and then being content with whatever that shape may be. I also plan to paint several rooms in the house, invest more in friendships, knit my deserving husband the perfect sweater, cultivate compassion and loving kindness for all living beings, formulate a clearer sense of my career path, and take a daily multivitamin.

Bring it on, 2006.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Gertrude just told her father, "My name is Ashley. And I've killed. I've killed a lot of plants."

Of course, earlier today I told the dog, "Back off the candy, Booty McFresh."

And yesterday Gary emphatically denied all connections to his Ninja past.

And her sister claimed to be a flying fish.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My favorite part about Christmas is the end of it, when everyone has something to play with, read, or do. No one is hungry or bored or anxious about where we have to be and when. It's peaceful.

Matilda was helping me form cookie dough into cookies yesterday, and we were listening to a CD of Christmas music. I said one of those things that always makes her roll her eyes at me. I said, "When people talk about wishing for peace on Christmas, what do they mean? What does peace mean?"

Matilda rolled her eyes and plopped a piece of dough on the baking sheet. "Um. I don't know. Probably like, people not fighting. Not arguing with each other."

"Not yelling?"

"Not feeling angry at anyone."

"Does it mean just sitting there and being quiet?"

Matilda considered. "Sometimes."

That's good enough for me.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Here's my biggest problem with this time of year. It's cold. I'm cold. And being cold makes me crabby. Therefore, the answer is yes, I am the ice bitch.

You might think the answer to the cold problem would be putting on an extra sweater. But then my fingers are still cold. And what about my feet? So I put on two pairs of socks and a pair of gloves.

This is inside, mind you. The thermostat says 72. But it lies. So does the fact that Gary is wearing a t-shirt. He's just acting tough.

So then, I stumble around the house in my three sweaters, four socks, and clumsy gloved fingers feeling utterly ridiculous and uncomfortable until my dry skin starts to itch, and then I rip off several layers to get to my fingernails. But then immediately my fingers freeze again and I'm wondering how my toes can possibly remain individually frozen blocks of ice inside all of those socks. It's like they bring their own refrigeration unit to the party.

From about mid-October through late April, I can't get warm. I have three extra blankets on my side of the bed, slipper socks, sweatshirts, fleece pants, and a robe. I'm wrapped in a layer of cold, and anything I put on just traps the cold in next to my skin.

If you see me sitting in a parked car in the heat of August with the windows rolled up and a silly smile on my face, it's because I'm finally starting to get the feeling back in my extremities.

Gary promised me we can move to a warmer climate as long as there are good bike trails nearby. Arizona, maybe? New Mexico? I like lizards…

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dear clients,

Happy holidays! I assume you know it is the holiday season because you have been filling my inbox with presents in the form of work orders. In the future, please include a gift receipt so that I may return them. I already have several dozen just like them.

In the past, I may have mistakenly given you the impression that I am both a mind reader and a miracle worker. For those of you now seeking Christmas Miracles from me, please know that in the spirit of the holiday season I would like to use my weekends for things like shopping, gift wrapping, and reacquainting myself with my family. Your emergencies simply aren't as important as my four-year-old's letters to Santa and my ten-year-old's help in the kitchen baking cookies.

Next year they will be five and eleven. They'll never be four and ten at Christmas ever again. What I have with them right now is a one-time opportunity to see this Christmas through their eyes. There will be other Christmases, but never again this Christmas.

Therefore, if my skewed priorities cause your brochure to go to print on December 28 instead of December 21, forgive me if I don't lose any sleep over it. I have to buy my littlest one the "footie pajamies" she so desperately wants before she grows up and learns how hot and uncomfortable they actually are. That's important. That's the kind of miracle I want to be working on right now.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas teaches you things about yourself. I used to always say, "I'm going to get up early on the day after Thanksgiving and get all my shopping done by 9 a.m.!" But by now I know better. I know I'm going to put it off till the last minute. And that's okay. Because I'm not one to enjoy being trampled by middle-aged women with bargain lust.

I should start Christmas shopping early. But I don't. I know this about myself.

I haven't yet learned that if I want to make everyone on my list something precious and handcrafted, I really need to start doing that in July. Not December. July.

Like that's ever going to happen.

And so this year I looked at the calendar in early November and made a conscious decision NOT to knit for friends and family this Christmas. It was going to be a store-bought holiday. There is no shame in that.

But now that it's creeping up on me, I'm feeling the lure of the impending adrenaline rush. Just how many socks could I get knitted before Christmas eve? Is it impossible to knit a lace scarf in a week? Wouldn't it be cute to knit everyone little mitten-shaped tree ornaments? Imagine how much cuter a store-bought stuffed animal would look with a hand-knitted sweater on it!

Please talk me down from this madness. There's no reason to start knitting for Christmas now except that I'm so used to feeling stressed out and over-committed that I can't cope with the absence of it.

Maybe I just need to bake some more cookies. And eat them. Join me?

Friday, December 02, 2005

The other night, I was reading Gertrude a bedtime story and I couldn't get out more than three words at a time because she kept interrupting me. Apparently, she was really enjoying the illustration style of this particular book.

"Who drew this book?" she asked. I closed it and we looked at the cover.

"Robert Munsch wrote the words..." I said.

She giggled. "Ha ha! Munch!"

"Sheila McGraw drew the pictures."

"She colored them too! That makes them look very pretty."

I agreed, and tried to keep reading. Three words later she said, "Did someone draw this baby?"

There was a picture of a mother holding a baby wrapped up in a blanket, sitting in a rocking chair.

"Yes, they did!" I said. "Sheila McGraw drew this whole entire page and everything on it. The mom, the baby, the rocking chair..."

"How did she draw such a cute baby???"

"Well, like this, " I said. "Give me your finger."

She held out her pointer finger and I helped her trace it around the illustration. "This part of the baby is round like a circle. Then you'd draw a small little baby head. And that part connects to the mama's arm here..."

She had a fascinated look on her face.

When we finally got the end, Gert said very sweetly, "Good job, Mom! You read that book very beautifully!"

"Well, thank you," I said, somewhat amused.

She patted me. "That's my girl!"