Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My Idea of Fun

My youngest, the bear, was enthralled when we went to a pumpkin patch around Halloween. We went on a hayride and one of the sites was a “haunted barn” with an 8 foot spider, and a hanging skeleton. That was in October. She still talks about it. “Daddy? Uh uh punkin patch” “Daddy? Draw skeleton” “Daddy – draw silly skeleton.” Is this some sort of morbid obsession – at age 2?

Over the past weekend, we went to the Chicago Field museum to see the Pompeii exhibit. Ok, this is my idea of fun: a two year old, and a five year old, in a crowed dimly lit maze, trying desperately to A) figure out what I am looking at, B) trying to pay attention to the tiny little signs that explain what I am looking at, and C) trying to keep a two year old interested in something in a glass case that she cannot touch, while trying to find something else to do, including but not limited to flirting with other people, running around wild, and flopping on the floor in front of the one part of the exhibit where the most people are standing.

“Excuse me please, I need to retrieve the child you are about to step on.”

The exhibit contains some extraordinary castings of people who died, and were encased in lava during the eruption. The postures, emotions in their faces, are incredible. The Bear was enthralled by the castings. “Daddy – skeleton cwying” “Daddy, skeleton sleeping.”

My five year old, the Mouse, had a priceless comment towards the end of the exhibit. She did a fabulous job of being interested, behaving, and in general was a gem. Her comment? “Not another bunch of bracelets and rings.” Yes dear, this case shows the bracelet and rings of a slave. The previous one showed the bracelet and rings of a peasant. I think we made her day when after the Pompeii exhibit, we went to a dinosaur exhibit.

Later, after we got home, the Bear continued with the commentary. “I wuv buseum” “I wuv skeleton”

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The war on Christmas revisited.

OK, I have some strong feelings on this whole war on Christmas thing. Politics aside. I think it is time to really fight the war on Christmas. I want Christmas to go away, now, run, hide. Lock me in a tiny cell by myself away from all the rest of humanity, don't talk to me until Presidents' day.

You see, when I was a kid, Christmas was a magical time. It would start on Christmas eve morning with cleaning the house, dragging in the tree and decorating it. At supper time, my mom would cook something wonderfully interesting like crabmeat quiche. Then we would light all the candles in the house (I remember several hundred at least), light the fire in the fireplace, and sing carols and eat Christmas cookies, fruit cake, and drink hot apple cider. We would go to midnight service at church, where they ended at midnight with a candle lit singing of Silent Night.

Christmas morning we would get up, since there were five of s kids, we had to wait until we were all ready, before going downstairs to open presents. My mom would bring in Stollen, hot tea and other treats while we were opening presents. For Christmas dinner my mom would cook a complete turkey dinner, with plum pudding for desert. It really was magical.

Now, oh man, now, it is terrible. First let me say, I love my in-laws, they are wonderful people, they really are.

For Christmas now, we go to my in-laws house. This year there were 6 adults, and 5 kids, 4 of which were under age 5, in a three bedroom house. When we arrived the pestilence had already started. My nephew, typhoid Justin was getting over the stomach flu.

Christmas eve was awful. We went to a mass, which was perfectly timed for dinner time, that had to detail all 42 generations of the genealogy of Christ, and was about 45 minutes to long, great for kids under 5. Then I went to the house with my two kids, to put them to bed and baby-sit while the others went to friends house to eat dinner. Christmas morning started with 3 of the kids under 5 waking up at 5:00 am, and declaring at the top of their wee little voices that it was time to get up. For some reason, I was the lucky one to actually get out of bed, and try to find something to distract the little raiders while we waited for the other 5 adults to get out of bed, which they finally did at about 7:30.

After the present opening frenzy, where the oldest nephew, age 12, essentially was a lump on the floor, and the youngest was essentially a, well, lump on the floor, and the middle three were absolute nuts, we ate some store bought sweet bread.

Then the frenzy started about dinner. Get out of the way to small kitchen, and stay out. The twelve year old insisted on playing with his remote control helicopter – in the only room with a TV and the only place we could go. Later friends arrived for dinner, well, one arrived, the other was sick with a sinus infection. Dinner was a smoked turkey with prepackaged gravy and prepackaged mashed potatoes, with the green bean casserole covered with those fake fried onions from a can, and a store bought pecan pie for desert. Kids were way to over stimulated to nap, and the house was way to noisy to nap, so all the kids were just extra special that day.

My oldest wondered into my bedroom the evening after Christmas to let me know she had to throw up. That continued for the next two days. I got a chest cold the next day, my dear wife got the stomach thing the day after that. My oldest developed the chest cold the day after that, and ended up with an ear infection. My youngest decided not to be left out and determined the best way to participate was to get pink eye. All this, while staying in a 3 bedroom house with 6 adults, and 5 kids six hours away from my own bed. And of course, we all get along just so well.

So, let’s end Christmas now. End it before it really gets out of control.