Monday, December 29, 2008

It's over? Already?

Each year I try to savor Christmas. I read the decorating magazines, watch the required movies (Elf, Scrooged, Rudolph). I listen to the homilies and the priests saying Christmas begins on the 25th, not before. But I disagree.
Preparing for Christmas is like preparing for a new baby. You decorate the room, you have presents and showers, you choose a name and you look forward to the day when your life will change. How is that different from Christmas? I know the priests do not want us getting caught up in the materialistic celebration, but buying or making presents for others brings us joy. I think God wants us to feel the joy He had when he brought His only Son into the world. We can't truly know, but as parents, we do understand the joy, the fear, the frustration, the excitement of waiting for the new baby. Let us have that, and stop trying to take the pre-celebration away from us.
Despite knowing this, it comes and goes like a flash and I miss it. In Ohio, we had a pastor who loved tradition and pomp and circumstance. He would invite everyone to bring bells to ring for Midnight Mass. I would be so busy, that I would forget, and my little girls would be disappointed, and my mother's guilt would crescendo. One very bad year, I had forgotten again. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see an unfamiliar elderly man. He handed me his bells and said "They can ring mine." The girls took turns ringing the bells and the joy in their faces was overwhelming. That was one of the few moments I have had where Christmas made me feel peaceful and content and I knew we would get through that terrible time.
I have grand delusions every year. Things to make, people to impress (why do I care?), gifts to purchase, our annual party to prepare for. By the time the party happens, Christmas is anticlimactic. Isn't that sad? I spent so much time preparing for the party, I didn't have time to decorate (the girls handled all of that), I didn't have time to shop (Matthew and the girls handled that), and I put my body through incredible pain, standing for such along time- baking and cleaning.
I think next year we will have our party on Christmas Eve. I imagine fewer people will come, but at least the highlight will coincide with Christmas. The girls get the party they want, the house is clean for Christmas, and I only have to cook once instead of twice. I like this plan. It will give me more time to savor the moment with Matthew and the girls. Less is more? We'll see.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Time to relax and enjoy

Yesterday, we had our annual holiday open house. Too much food, not enough chairs, but plenty of laughter, friends and family. 
      I took Friday off from work so I could stay home and bake. I made our family favorites: meatballs, kielbasa, crab-stuffed mushrooms, tomato tart, veggie wraps, pesto cheesecake, spinach and cream cheese loaf. 
     Then, the desserts....mochaccino spirals, egg nog cookies, cream cheese spritzes, white and dark chocolate bark with pecans, peppermint bark, homemade hot chocolate. The girls requested Vienna Torte- chocolate cake with creme de menthe frosting. But the highlight was the Yule Log- gingerbread cake with crystallized ginger, orange pastry cream filling and nutella frosting. Oh my. Naturally, I made two of everything, and now we have a torte and a yule log left for just us. Yum.
     The girls decorated the house. Emily was working, so Christine's boyfriend Leaf filled in. He got to hear the history of every ornament- 23 years worth of stories and memories. Sweet.
     I have yet to go shopping. Matthew ventured out into the ice storm, so I could stay home and make Cheese Braid, another perennial favorite. Actually, I could have a party and serve nothing but cheese braid, and everyone would be happy. A sour cream, nutmeg and orange dough with fabulous filling. Teachers fight over it, co-workers steal it, Matthew's father lives for it.... it cannot be helped. I scored a Kitchen-aid over it. 22 years ago (in Washington, base housing), I stumbled across this recipe in Good Housekeeping and made it. But it burned up my handheld mixer and another one. So Matthew said if I promised to make it every year, I could have a Kitchen-aid. What could I say? We drove to the Exchange at the Air Force base south of Tacoma, and bought a red Kitchen-aid for $229. So expensive, but we thought we had gotten a good deal. 22 years later, and they are still right around the same price. Amazing. But I still have it and I still make Cheese Braid for Christmas and sometimes Easter. And everyone still "oohs and aahs." 
     Merry Christmas to all of you. I think 2009 is going to be an incredible year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How do they know?

When the girls were little and the phone would ring, that's when they would decide to go nuts. If I am working on a project, that's when Matthew wants to hang out. Now, when I am in the groove of writing a paper, my daughters want to fill me in on all the things we haven't talked about over the last few days. It's amazing how hungry we are for each other's company and attention. It's wonderful to actually have a family that WANTS to hang's just the timing. But then there is no free time. Every second is filled, and if it isn't- then we nap. 
My research paper is due Friday, and today, TODAY, I finally understood what the professor's notes meant. And today, TODAY, someone from the city asked if I had received the data I had requested. I love this topic: economic development and increasing housing occupancy rates. But I don't know what I can do to pursue this. My Master's is Management. Other schools have Master's in Urban Planning or other relevant studies. I guess I will continue the path of self-education on this. I've been reading about this since 93. There is so much good information and examples of failed projects in cities. But with the current economy, all stats are thrown out the window.
I've been enjoying my Current Leadership class. The readings are great and the class really gets into the discussions- finally! But it ends the 18th; only a 5 week class. I wonder of these shortened classes are actually helping us (graduating faster) or hurting us (not really absorbing the information). I'm sure someone's Master's thesis will be on this topic.
So now that the family has gone to bed, I sit here writing instead of reorganizing my paper. I'll get it done. I'll do the requisite PowerPoint. I'll take some pictures downtown tomorrow before class. And I will accept that it will not be an A paper. I can't be perfect all the time. There are more important things to do- like chat with my girls.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday sunday sunday the US 30 Dragstrip; where the great ones (echo echo echo) riiiiiiiiiiiide!
We could hear that from our house on Ash Street in Hobart. We went once and it was so loud. Not my thing. Neither is NASCAR. But driving fast down Old Hobart Road was fun. What a rush. 
Today is a typical Sunday. But the sun was shining and I am much more productive when the sun shines. Got the kitchen and living room straightened up. Made poached eggs on toast after church (Grace cantored today. She has such a lovely voice). Did some calligraphy, wish I had the time and money to play with my art toys, but not today. Checked for my Global Business grades a million times. Still not posted. Tried to schedule my Master's classes for next summer, but tow of the required courses are not offered. Hmmm
Made a pot of black bean soup with chorizo. Spicy and yummy. That's a blog word- yummy. I never use that in real life.
I have been having a lot of fun on Facebook, catching up with friends (ish) people from high school. It really is an instant community. I think if our class had been on Facebook and communicating, we would have had a turn out for the reunion. I have found children and nieces and nephews of people I used to know. I feel old and content at the same time.
Rosie and Grace may audition for plays in the Spring. It is so much fun to see them on stage. 
Tomorrow is Preview Day at school. Potential DCAD students and their parents will get the grand tour of our two buildings. I hope it goes well. I have been to many with my girls and I hope I've been able to give my fellow workers the consumer's point of view. Lack of preparation and customer service is very bad these days. We are competing with everyone- even if we offer something different it comes down to the connection we make with each of them.
Christine got a fabulous new job. I am so proud. She didn't let the lack of a degree slow her down, and she's still on track with her Bach/Master's program so that we will graduate at the same time. What a party we will have Jan. '10. You'll hear the whooping all the way to Indiana.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween at DCAD

How fun. Carved pumpkins, a graphic design poster contest, Costume parade and the staff is whacked on out candy--- best holiday ever!

I only had the nerve to be dressed ugly in 9th grade (?) for Alison MacLeod's halloween party. I went as the bride of Frankenstein. Today I went all out. Some people didn't recognize me, which is fun if you're hideous! As soon as I put the cigarette in my hand, my alter ego appears. Plus I have a wicked headache which makes me cranky. I spent way too much, but the costume is a keeper.

Naturally I am supposed to be writing a beautiful heart-felt letter for the Annual Appeal. My fingernails have paint under them and each time I answer the phone I get makeyup all over the receiver.

Krista is Lydia and Torey is a gorgeous Delia. The hallway is black and white striped and checked and webbed. I wish I felt better so I could really enjoy this. And tonight is the staff get-together at Ameritage. In costume. People will never look at me the same again:)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Grace is a cantor

Today we heard Grace cantor for the first time. She has such a strong voice. People came up to her after mass and thanked her. Nice. Of course she ended the mass with "Have a great Sunday, guys!" That, apparently, was for us. Two weeks ago she got her permit and ran to the desk of the DMV announcing, "I'm here to get my permit." This DMV holds about 500 people and with Matthew slinking down in his seat and covering his face, she comes running out yelling, "I did it, guys! I got my permit." So much more relaxed and confident than I was at 16, heck at 43! 
She's our baby. When asked why there was a gap between her birthday and Rosie's (4 years) she announced to the world it was because of the dead baby. That's right. I had miscarried and she told people that there was a dead baby. It was Emily who told me I was pregnant with Grace before I knew I was pregnant. She was about 5 and hugged me, her face pressed against my stomach and said, "There's a baby in your tummy." And she was right. 

I love things like that. Things that are uncomfortable or freaky or intuitive. My girls (you'll meet them all) are beautiful and awkward and confident and talented. They embarrass us and we embarrass them. We are a tight family. Some of the girls are closer than others, but in time, they will be super close the way I finally am with my sister. It took us a long time, but we are such good friends now...and she is my hero. That is also another story. 

So, I am caught up with today's homework, and am heading into the garage and attic and basement to treasure hunt. We are decorating the offices tomorrow and decided that our hallway will be Beetlejuicish. Krista Rothwell started working with us a few months ago and she is too much fun! So talented and funny and a huge New Kids Geek! I've never met one. But I did buy tickets for the girls to go see The Spice Girls and they screamed and danced like 10 year olds. I have a feeling Krista will be like that at the concert she's going to...with VIP Passes. Her husband would be wise to pack oxygen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Once upon a time...

No, that will come later. Today I am smelling the brownies that are cooling on the counter. I know there is fake whipped cream in the fridge, and soon I will indulge. I have a paper to write for my Global Business class and hopefully my teammates will forward the report information to me so that I can turn it into a cohesive final project for all of us. 
I had a nightmare that one of my board members wanted to renew his vows with his lovely wife, and my home was chosen to host this affair. In the dream (nightmare) my house was bigger, and so messy. I am on my knees picking up trash and hiding the trash and the clothes under the bed and in bags. I want people to walk through the house to the party rooms, and not see any trash, but every time I turn around, there is more. And the kids are just looking at me and not helping. I'm crying and looking at the clock and crying some more!
When I woke up, I looked around and was surrounded by the mess that is always there. I couldn't stand it! So after I completed my mid-term, I tackled the living room.  Our bathroom is next. Matthew did such a beautiful job building it, that it's a shame it's always a mess. And it's my stuff. I admit it. My office at work is small but cute and decorated like a magazine. Everyone else is JEALOUS, but they could decorate theirs (is 'theirs' a word?). I couldn't paint, so I put fabric on the wall, and my ultra talented friend Roberta made me three art pieces that everyone loves. Why must offices look like offices? Someday I will take over the world and change that!
Tomorrow I must scout for Halloween stuff to decorate the office doors. It was my bright idea to have SPIRIT Week at our school (no sports teams, just lots of Goth kids) and we will be having Voo Doo You Love? on Tuesday. I saw voo doo dolls as a make and take and Jane came up with the name. She's so clever! But there's work to be done.
So here is my complaint file: Major project report for Global, plus two more papers, design training program for final project for Training and Development class, log 120 hours working on Master's project which is a business plan for a graphic design studio (but can't cross over into work day, so I have to go in early and stay late to get it done), finish thesis about people not moving into Wilmington- but can't extract data from city officials or developers, which is frustrating. Clean the house for veggie/not veggie Thanksgiving (I am not going anywhere) and pray we have some money for Christmas (but can we do the party this year?). We never miss a year. Is it time to let other people bring the food? Hmmm. Can I let go of my inner Martha?