Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Season of Our Discontent

Meredith is lying on the floor in her new footed-Christmas-jammies (which we had to get in exchange for the two piece ones that she refused to even try on.) She is looking out the window.
She says "I think it's going to be spring soon, 'cause the icicles are melting. "
"Hmm," I say. "I think it's going to be winter for a while longer."
"Well, I can't wait for it to be spring. 'Cause then there are flowers."
I ask, "Aren't you one of the kids who couldn't wait for winter, because then there'd be snow?"
"Well, about a month ago, when I was really young, then I wanted it to be winter."

Monday, December 22, 2008

At least she's honest.

Back during the Christmas of 2002, when Clarissa was three and a half years old, we used to try the Santa Claus threat a lot.
"If you won't be good, then Santa won't bring you any presents." It didn't really help.
Then, at the ward Christmas party, Santa came. And Clarissa told him she wanted a kitty. A Siamese Kitty. Then she went back to tell him she also wanted a black and white kitty. And then she went back again to tell him she also wanted a calico kitty. And Brother Mckinnie, I mean Santa Claus, was charmed by her. By her determination, and her bright hair, and her bright personality. People often are.
He called a few days later to ask if he could come by, as Santa Claus, to give her a present. Because he had found a three-pack of kitties in the desired colors and he just couldn't believe his luck. How could we say no?

So, in walks Santa Claus. In a booming voice, he asks, "Who's been good?"
And Lissa runs to him, yelling, "I'VE BEEN. . . . . Ohhhhhh." (That is the sound of her swallowing her words as she realizes NOW is when the reckoning comes due. You can't lie to Santa.)

We all had a good laugh. And she got her present anyway. And we're still using the no presents threat. And it still isn't working. Do you wonder why?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Choir Director

We had our Christmas Program today. And it went remarkably well, considering that I was the director. You see, I have this style of leading where the choir learns they'd better know their parts really well, 'cause I won't be bringing them in or cutting them off. At least, not consistently.
We sang three songs: "Wexford Carol" (one of my all-time favorites), "No Room, No Room" by Sally de Ford, and a Medley of "Joy to the World, Angels We have Heard on High, and Silent Night." The first two I am showing links for, because they were written or arranged by people who are so kind as to let you download and print these beautiful arrangements for FREE!

I was also in charge of the rest of the program, so I asked people in the ward to read some of my Dad's Christmas skits. He has such a way of making the people from the scriptures seem real. And he also has a way of making you laugh and cry in the same minute. The laugh gets your guard down and then the spiritual side stabs you right through the heart. And it feels good.

How grateful am I that these wonderful people stood by me and kept coming to practice after practice? Well, if you want to know how wonderful they are, just consider that they kept coming, even after I said the following:

(In my defense, here is what I was thinking--"All our regular pianists are coincidentally gone on the same day and poor Michaela, who is only 14, is stuck trying to help us learn our parts while our incompetent director (me) struggles to remember that those are called measures, not verses." But here is what I said---)

"We have so many talented people in this ward and all of them are gone today."

Luckily, their reaction was to tease me mercilessly--especially Brother Hillstrom (Michaela's Dad). Had there been a stunned silence, I'm sure it would have been all over.

And now it is! I'm so relieved.

One sad thing happened--Lissa started throwing up at 2:00 this morning. (Anderson joined in the fun around 8:00.) So we had to ask Maddie Compas to take her part. She did a great job, too. All the readers did. And the string quartet. And Nathan Baker with his flute solo. And the primary kids and their bell choir!

Hooray! It's over!
Now is the part where I come down with some kind of illness. It always happens after the stress lets off. But then, with Christmas so close, I'm still feeling stressed, a little. . .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How to Take/Fake a Family Picture

My family is never very excited about getting together for family pictures. With that in mind, I didn't even ask them to wear coordinating clothes. It's come as you are in the Songer family these days. Anderson had his mood on and did his best to ruin it. We just ignored him and he decided to participate partway through. Here's the phinished (photoshop+finished) product.

And here's how we got there. I recommend playing the slideshow fast, picking a kid, and watching them squirm! Also, check for Anderson peeking out of the last few. His eyeballs show over Casey and my shoulders on the last one.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Accidental Decorator

I have friends and family who are major decorators. Sometimes I look at their houses, or the pictures of their houses, and I know I should do better.

But that's just not me. I rarely feel either the urge or the inspiration to decorate. Even at Christmas.
Here are my decorating photos, with explanations.

The stockings don't match. The white and blue one I got as a present from my brother Mike and his wife Lisa back in high school. I bought the green and white one to go with it, but it turned out to be a bit larger when it came in the mail. The four coordinating ones are from Walmart. They only had four patterns. And I bought the last one on Ebay for Rosalie, just so she'd have one.
If I could justify spending $250 for something we use once a year, I would buy coordinating wool striped ones like the last one. In the larger size. I like the stripes. First, because they are vaguely humorous (is that just me?) and second, because they leave no stinkin' strings to snag on every little thing you try to put in the stocking.
I got the "Peace" stocking hangers because there are five letters, which makes one for each of the seven of us once you add in the two present-shaped hangers. You wouldn't believe the contortions my kids have gone through trying to get to use the hanger that matches the first initial of their names. But A=Anika and Anderson, E=only Edith, C=Casey and Clarissa, leaving P for Papa, and E for everyone else. I told them it just has to go in order of age. (Which means NO ONE gets their letter and it's UNFAIR to everybody.)
I keep meaning to find a way to attach these all to a board that I can hook to the wall so that forgetful toddlers and unknowing babies can't keep pulling these heavy metal objects down onto their heads. But I'm not really sure how to do that. . .

Anika drew this in '04. I think it's cool. Like Pottery Barn wall art, but sentimental. (To me, I mean.) I think I stole the frame from something else, but I'm sure it was a dollar store frame in the first place. That's the kind of decorator I am.

This is a miscellany of hand me downs and dollar store items. Or garage sales. Except the candles and wreaths around the candles. I asked my non-design impaired sister Kate to take me shopping with her. I think she was amazed at how little I found that I was willing to spend money on.
Oh, and Anika made the little paper tree and present at school.
Oh, yeah, and the Weihnachts Pyramide comes from Germany, where Casey served his mission. The little vanes for the windmill part got scattered the minute I let the kids near it, so I stuck what I could find in a box for later. Actually, "later. . ." is a big part of my design philosphy.

The tree skirt was a present from another of my non-decorating impaired siblings, Wendy. I had complained that I should have bought the pretty quilted tree skirt at Gardner Village when I was there. I would never make a trip back that far just to spend money on a decoration. Anyway, this skirt is funny--it looks hideous by itself, but nice under the tree. I can never predict how something will look once it's in place. Many experiences of buyer's remorse have made me leery of buying anything.
Rosalie helps my overall decorating plan by scattering ornaments more liberally than we would do otherwise. She is also opposed to books or dvds being confined to shelves. "Let them be free!"

So don't come to my house if you want to see some heart-cheering Christmas stuff. (We're not even sure that a couple of our kids deserve presents this year.)
And I'm not kept from the true spirit of decor because I know not where to find it. (See Wendy here, and my most fantastically-self-shaming-when-compared-to friend Shelley here.) I just like to let these accidents, happy or otherwise, happen naturally. And cheaply. And without a lot of work. Yep, that's my design philosophy. What're ya gonna do.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What about us?

Meredith wants to go out and jump on Grandma and Grandpa's trampoline.
"Rosalie, do you want to go outside with Meri and me?"
She points at the TV and says, in her pure vowels, "Mehsee." She means, "No, Mom, I want to watch Maisie Mouse for the twabillionth time."
"Are you sure? We're going. Want to come?"
She answers by sitting on the couch and turning her eyes to the creepy giant mouse with her creepy special-needs alligator friend.
"Okay, Daddy is in his office and we'll be back in just a few minutes."

When we get back, Casey tells me, "Rosalie was sad when you left. I found her in the mudroom in front of the door holding a baby (doll) under each arm and crying."

Well, I did ask her.

But I feel bad, anyway.

And I wonder, was she comforting the babies? Did that make her feel less tiny when faced with the enormous, indifferent door? Why does that image stick in my head with such tenacity?

Poor babies.

It's really not that bad.

I ask Meredith which is her choice of jam to go on her peanut butter and jam sandwich.
"I'll have the crap-apple."
At least she likes it better than the peach.