Saturday, December 18, 2010

Endless Shock and Awe

I'd like to start out by saying that the holidays have snuck up on me....but I'm pretty sure I said that last year.  It is amazing how many times in a row I can be amazed by the same things.  Don't we all do that and isn't it pretty stupid?  Or is it ingenious?  Maybe it's ingenious.  It is God's or the Universe's or the Spaghetti Monster's way of keeping us amused.  Otherwise we'd be endlessly bored.  So...every summer we proclaim that we can't believe it's this hot....then the first cool front blows in and we all run outside like idiots..."wow! nobody expected this!".....then someone has a birthday and we say, "I can't believe another year has gone by!"  We are continually amazed that our kids get bigger, we get older, the weather gets hotter or colder, and December rolls around and Oh My God Christmas Came With It.  Who saw it coming?  Seriously, how could you predict something like that?

So yes, here I am (again) with a week before Christmas and presents still to buy, and if I need to mail you something you can totally forget it.  You're getting it late.  And even though I do it that way every single year, it will still surprise you because apparently, we are just wired for continual shock and awe. 

Speaking of shock and awe, I just had a birthday.  I know!  Amazing!  It was a great day doing basically pretty much what we do every year....and I'll blog about it like it has Never Happened Before!  Eventually you people are going to stop reading.  Wait a minute, no you won't.  We've already established that this is how it works....continual surprise and amazement.

Every year I force the kids to get a Santa picture on my birthday.  I won't tell you how we see the same Santa every year and how he cracks up at us or how he creeps Ellie out or any of that - because I'm pretty dang sure I said it last year. Here's this year's photo.
Joel asked for a Barbie and I think it would be awesome if he got one.  Jasper just said, "Bring me a surprise." Ellie refused to talk to Santa, Camille gave him her letter like she does every year, and I'm not sure what was going on with Jules but I did crack up when Santa's assistant pried his hands out of his pockets and forced him to place them in his lap.  It reminded me of that one year that he played basketball when he was six.  His coach eventually duct-taped his pockets shut....she was tired of watching the basketballs bounce off of his forehead as he stood with his hands in his pockets.  I don't really produce jocks over here.  Anyway - I have veered off topic.  Joel wore his Christmas uniform of a Guns'n Roses t-shirt and backwards baseball cap, Ellie put on a festive scarf even though it was 70 outside, Camille just looked freaking cute like she always does (our little fashion plate who enjoys an endless supply of hand-me-downs from a couple of girly families), and Jasper (who is doing his "Here's Johnny" Jack Nicholson face) and Jules are both sporting shirts buttoned All The Way To The Top.  Jules wears his shirts that way because it seems to be one of those Unofficial Asperger's Traits.  Jasper does it because

a) Jules does it
b) He's just quirky as hell

When I suggested he might want a little breathing room at the collar, he unbuttoned all of his buttons, pulled the neckline down as low as possible, and shrieked, "You want me to look like this?  Is this what you want?  You want me to show my CHEST??"

Of course, Jasper reacts strongly to suggestions, in general.  I recently offered him a meatball in an Indian buffet line - it was an innocent slip - I had briefly forgotten that Jules had watched Food Inc and gloriously shared all the details with Jasper, thereby turning him into an overnight committed vegetarian.  So I'm holding out the meatball on a serving spoon and Jasper yells, "Are you trying to kill me?" 

"," I said.  "Just offering a meatball...."

He and Camille went and got their hair cut for the Santa picture.  Jasper is a cutter.  Seriously.  We don't know where he keeps his scissors, but he's constantly cutting on his hair.  It's a problem.  Anyway - we needed to even things up a bit so he reluctantly climbed in the chair and said to the stylist, "Do a better job this time.  Last time the hair cut only lasted two hours."  Two hours.  Before he was "forced" to take matters into his own hands and cut his bangs. 

He looks good in the Santa pic.  Like a little angel. 

I told Ellie that if she ends up at a Texas university, she can come home next year on my birthday for the Santa picture.  And she said, "I signed an 18-year contract with you people.  I'm done."  Hmph.

After the Santa photo, we headed over to Mi Tiera where I enjoyed some delicious enchiladas verdes.  Last year Jeff made them for me, but this year I had plans for the evening that involved a birthday trip to a tattoo parlor, where I met up again with my friend, Rick.  Maybe I'll post a pic, later.  My dad hasn't seen the tattoo yet and I'd hate for him to see it first on the blog that he says he doesn't read.

Ellie gave me a beautiful teapot, Jeff got me another Haruki Murakami book (he is my All Time Favorite Author), Camille made me a necklace, Jasper made me a snowflake ornament out of popsicle sticks that is also the Red Hot Chili Peppers emblem, and the Joels-Boys (Joel and Jules) got me a Frusciante CD that I may or may not like (haven't listened to it, yet) because even though I am a loyal fan - sometimes Frusciante does Weird Artistically Expressive Sh*t that I, with my suffocatingly small mind, fail to fully appreciate.  I also got Chili Peppers Live From Slane Castle...because nothing says, "Happy Birthday Mom!" like a parental advisory for explicit content. 

I'm feeling very blessed this Christmas (Yes!  I said "Blessed" even though I don't usually use that term..).  My family is together.  Ellie is still with us - even if she comes home for Christmas every year after - it won't be the same as her being "with us" as in still at this stage of her life where this is her with all of us.  My dad is doing amazingly well after being So Basically Crippled and Decrepit last year at this time...where he sat in his wheelchair holding his tequila shot glass up and saying, "God Bless Us, Every One!!"  There is no little crutch without an owner hanging by the door - the old guy is up and running around - doesn't use the cane even because, quite frankly, one of my kids always accidentally kicks it out from under him and we decided it was a hindrance. 

Nobody in our family is ill.  Jeff has a job.  We have a roof over our heads.  We are all under it - a snapshot in time - this last year of our intact little family before these kids start taking off to live their lives outside of the sardine can.  So it feels especially warm and sweet, this surprise Christmas that snuck up on me. 

In case the Chili Peppers video above wasn't quite your cup of tea....I'll leave you with this kid....rocking the piano.  I have to admit, my heart actually hurts when I watch it.  I am continually amazed by this aching heart...the endless love I feel for my kids...catches me off guard and steals my breath at the darnedest times...

Merry Christmas to you - and may you continue to be endlessly amazed by the sweet repetition of your own life's little surprises.

Etude in C Minor, Op. 39, No. 1 - Rachmaninoff /  on Vimeo.


  1. Look at you! All blessed up and stuff. I knew that you would come around eventually. It happens.
    You know that I love that picture of your kidlings. You have the cutest kids next to mine. I have to legally say that you know. But they are cute and I'm not even saying that for you to like me. True, I'm desperate for friends but this time I really mean it.
    I glad that you had such a great birthday/week/month. Or does the celebration of your birth go on until next December 15th?
    Okay, what else to say? Um, yeah, Ellie rocks, we all know that. Should I force Claire into Piano lessons? She's begging me to start a Blog of her own. Will you comment?
    The kids swore that they saw a ghost in the garage today. Thought of you, of course.
    I guess that's it. Oh no, wait! I'm happy for your Dad.
    Your Friend, m.

  2. Long time lurker, first time commenter -- just wanted to say happy holidays and thank you for writing. I really enjoy reading your blog.

  3. Your people are adorable.
    Quirk rocks.

  4. As often is the case, I laughed and then got all choked up. Nice job! :) And Ellie does, of course, rock out. Julia really enjoyed that video clip-- she laid her head on my shoulder as she watched and said, "How BEAUTIFUL!"

  5. Your dad saying "God bless us every one!" with his pathetic broken bones and crutches just made me bust out laughing! (I think I had the same reaction last year too.) I'm so darn glad he is better, or it wouldn't have had near the same effect.

    I'm not ready to think about children leaving the nest. That is hitting a little too close to my home.

  6. Great post! Your kids sound funny and cool & quirky....all at the same time. I know there must be a lot of laughter in your house. And yes, enjoy this last few months of everyone all living together under the same roof. 'Cause when they leave - it's never the same. It's wonderful when they all come home - but still not the same. Didn't watch the RHCP clip, but couldn't pass up the one of Ellie playing - AWESOME!!! What amazing should be extremely proud. Merry Christmas,
    Dee Pipes Oliver

  7. I agree with all the above, am so glad my oldest is only 6... and yeah for your writing and wait, is it really the last week before Xmas? Shock! Ha, thanks and ENJOY the season and the parties and such.
    Kind regards from very snowy Belgium, Jade

  8. @Mark - I will comment on Claire's blog and no, don't make her take piano lessons. You can't force kids to do things - well, maybe that is just me. I have never successfully made any of them do anything, and it wasn't for lack of trying. Anyway - Ellie was 11 when she had her first lesson.

    @Anon - I am a huge lurker - it keeps me from folding clothes.

    @Everyone else - thanks and Happy Holidays!

  9. You absolutely had me laughing today. Until I watched your amazing daughter and am now devastated at my own lack of musical ability. I shall cry tears of injustice as I plunk my 34 year old fingers away YET AGAIN on the same dang songs that I can't manage to remember on our upright...

    Happy Birthday. Rar.

  10. Thank you for making your kids get a photo with Santa. My 11yo tried to pull the old, "I'm to old/smart/mature for that this year. No way!" line. My 6yo thinks she is also 11yo and refused too. The easy part was that I only had to convince the eldest to go along with it and Miss Monkey See, Monkey Do was on board. I showed Eldest your photo and that (along with the promise of a post photo shoot mall shopping trip) did the trick. Momma got her desired photo! Thank you for this year and for every year to come until the baby leaves the nest. :-)

  11. I don't know why I'm "Weed Tamer". LOL! This is Jennifer Reynard.

  12. Ha ha - nice to know your alias, Jennifer. It might come in handy someday....

  13. THAT is some big piano talent! Amazing.

    This was such a fun post to read. I love your family.

  14. Seriously, no matter how many times I visit your blog, each time I think, "Oh My God, it's so amazing how many times in a row I can be amazed by how hilarious she is!!"

    And, yes, your daughter is stunning and awesome. Her performance was so moving and inspiring.

    What a terrific family you make. Merry Christmas to you all. :)