Friday, December 31, 2010

Belated christmas post (written on the 24th, but well... things happen.))

I love christmas. I love christmas traditions. I love the big menu, the apetizers, the family coming in and visiting everyone. I love the way christmas has always been for me. Midnight mass. Lots of people aorund me. Sixhundred obligations that you secretely enjoy even when they drive you insane, because they confirm that everything as it should be. But things do change. Over the last few years christmas traditions have had to change. Of course I married and moved to a different continent. That will change a few things. My favorite christmas songs were no longer on the radio. But there was Youtube to compensate and the first two years we just flew 'home' to Belgium where everything was as it always was, with the exception of being more wonderful with my husband. But then the first year with Joseph Midnight mass was a sea of exhaustion instead of trying to focus of the wonder of Our Lord coming into our life. Instead of allowing the miracle of the Word becoming flesh sink into me.. I wanted to cry because my precious baby would not be still during the long service in the middle of the night. We started to adjust things. The next year we still traveled to Belgium, but we went to the daytime mass, and I started to realize that.. things change, traditions change and as a family, we had to create our own. Many people told me this, but to me it was hard to understand. I have a hard time letting go of things sometimes. Last year, well.. things had to change. I was too pregnant to travel all the way to Europe. Christmas dinner was going to be 'just us'. We still did Turkey but things were abreviated and perhaps more suitable to a two year old. And there were new traditions emerging. Christmas ornaments in St. Nicholas shoes. A tree with homemade ornaments and Star Wars, aside from the new bride ornaments. And while I didn't have the christmas joys of the past, I had new ones that were just as special. We celebrated a christmas dinner a few days later with a formal dinner with my mother and good friends. This year, we celebrate christmas with two boys and family arriving after new year. I did do the early shopping, and around Thanksgiving decided I was not going to drive myself and my family insane as I usually do, and I have actually enjoyed it. We're having a christmas picnic in the living room tomorrow evening. I bought paper plates and napkins. We are probably going to have meatballs, popcorn, chips, cider, chocolate milk and whatever else catches my fancy at the grocery store. Maybe some sweet potato ovenfries. I am reminding myself that Michael will try to get into everything and that there will be food all over the place and that that will be okay..

Maybe this will become our new tradition, that we can include others in as time goes by. Maybe my children will one day be so attached to this picnic that they can not imagine anything else. And maybe in a few more years things will change again. I am trying to learn that Christmas is about how I can let my children learn about this miraculous event of Jesus in our midst. At this age they do not get theology, but Joseph knows how to count down the days. And he wants a birthday cake for baby Jesus like we did last year. It's a good start. Letting go.. and holding on.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Michal D. Hauk. D, for determined

Joseph, once he was mobile, was a handful. But you usually knew what he was up to. Michael on the other hand will sit nicely and play with a toy (or a stick vacume) without making a sound, thus lulling you into complacency. When your attention is turned to something else, whether it is a book, cooking or some needlework, Michael will silently dissapear from view and crawl towards trouble. That is why a few times I have all of a sudden looked up and then ran throughout the house calling "Michael? Michael where are you?". If this was Joseph, I would have heard him giggling or banging something from miles away. Michael however does not make a sound, which of course makes this more scary. I have found him a few times splashing his hands in the toilet if someone had forgotten to close the lid. Or trying to climb the stairs. Or grabbing crayons out of Joseph's bin (not an easy feat, honestly) and eating them.

Today, I caught him in the act of dissapearing while I was in the kitchen and followed without a word or without stopping him. Michael saw me. He looked at me. And then proceeded to crawl further, diapered behind sashaying left and right until he was at the stairs. He looked back again as if to make sure I followed and then pulled himself up, walked around the bannister and proceeded to crawl up the first stair. I followed to keep him from, you know, falling down the stairs. He crawled all the way up the stairs and waited for me on top, then made his way like an arrow out of a bow towards the bathroom where he pulled himself up on the rim of the tub and started pounding it to make his desires clear. He wanted a bath. What was I waiting for?

This water baby crawled all the way from the kitchen, down the hall, up the stairs, across the hall, towards the bath. D for Determined.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The beads (a Joseph story)

A few months ago Joseph's preschool teacher told me that he was doing great in playing with his friends and in playing with all the roleplay toys (cars, kitchens, everything), but that he rarely played with the manipulatives, so if I could help stimulate that at home. Certainly I could. Joseph loves puzzles, plays regularly with blocks and well.. does designing pretty advanced train tracks count as playing with manipulatives. Sounded like something right up our alley. Still, at the next sale of Melissa and Doug toys for half off, I went out to purchase a set of lacing beads.

They were a big succes for about three or four days. Then they dissapeared utterly and completely. Certainly with two wild boys or house is not always a mirror of empty spaces and surfaces, but to have three dozen big, chunky colorful beads dissapear was something of a conundrum. Where were they? We asked Joseph but he didn't seem to know either. At first we didn't puzzle too much over them. We figured we had put them away somewhere and would stumble over them at any moment. We discovered four of them laying around over the next few days, like lost sheep that could not find the main herd anymore, but the motherload kept eluding us. I was mystified. Especially when after a big clean up the beads still did not turn up. We looked high and low. We looked everywhere: in toyboxes, in the drawers of the traintable, the playhouse, in the little kitchen, in the big mommy kitchen. We asked Joseph again. I looked in cooking pots, in the hallway, in the recycling, in the bathroom... While doing other things I was on constant lookout for those beads. But days went by, and the beads did not appear, despite my searching.

Today was a day spend in reorganizing rooms and playing. With Michael getting bigger, some of the baby stuff needs to be stored and other things need to be made more (or less) available as his mobility grows. We started out reassembling tracks of the traintable in the playroom. Michael played with the garage. Then we went upstairs to Michael's room. We did a snowball fight with the junkmail, I removed the cot that was in Michael's room from those sleepless first months. The boys played on the bed together. I stopped Joseph from smothering Michael, we played with the large block train.. all in all a normal morning.From Michael's room we progressed to Joseph's room, where Joseph played with the little people nativity and 'woke up baby Jesus' so that he could eat his snowman candy and then it was all in Jesus' tummy... Michael crawled all over and I lay down with my head on the giant bear being used as a playgym supervising the play.

I noticed Michael's pushtrain beside me. This train was originally Joseph's though he had outgrown it and lost all interest in it, until his brother started playing with it of course. Apparently it had found it's way upstairs into Joseph's room. I opened the seat to check if no dirty sippy was hidden inside. Well... you can guess what I found. There, inside the little stow away under the seat were all the missing beads! I smiled and already thought about telling my husband where I had finally found them while closing the lid. Joseph protested! "Mommy, I want to look at the coal too!" I looked at him, for one second not comprehending. Then he proudly added: "I shoveled ALL the coal in the firebox of the train."

Well of course he did! I guess his teacher is right, he excelles in imaginative play. Hmmm.. where woud that come from?