Thursday, December 29, 2011

With Or Without The Kids?

Yesterday, Mr R and I celebrated our anniversary by spending most of the day with our children. While many of our other anniversaries have been spent without the children, I confess I didn't feel like dropping the kids off at grandma's this year. With our anniversary only three days after Christmas, it always arrives in the midst of the still tangible holiday excitement. My son and daughter enthusiastically helped Mr R to prepare a breakfast buffet complete with homemade hash browns, pancakes, eggs and orange juice. They delighted in doing something for our special day and regaled us with loud shouts and cheers.

Mr R and I took the kids with us to see "Hugo", the movie based on Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The kids were excited to see the movie, and enjoyed it, but being in the dark theater for so long gave my son the impression that the day had passed him by. After watching twenty minutes of previews and the entire movie, while eating lots of popcorn and candy and taking two trips to the drinking fountain for water, my son sighed and said to me, "Your anniversary is long."

I'm grateful for my sweet children and love how they make me laugh. I'm also grateful to my sister who agreed to cook them dinner at her house so Mr R and I could go out to a restaurant alone.

I'm most grateful for my kind and loving husband and for all the joy, tears, worries, comfort, wealth, poverty, adventures, and winding roads we have shared. I wouldn't have wanted to share it with anyone else.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Laughs From "The Nutcracker"

 One of our many family traditions for the holidays is rooted in my fourteen years of classical ballet training--we always see The Nutcracker ballet. Usually, we buy tickets to see a live performance and even my five year old son sat through the entire show last year. Of course, we had front row seats and he spent a good portion of the time mimicking the conductor in the orchestra pit and pretending to play the chimes. But he actually enjoyed the music, the dancing and the story enough to want to see it again. Yes! I love it when real life wins out over video games!

This year, because of an extra busy holiday schedule, we opted to watch the New York City Ballet's performance live from the Lincoln Center on PBS. Everything about the production was beautiful and flawless. The kids loved it and got up and danced when the music inspired them. My little one needed me to narrate some of the story and would ask questions like: "When does the Nutcracker turn real?", "When does the Christmas tree grow?", and "How do all those kids fit under Mother Ginger's skirt?"

But this one question, and the answer it prompted from my daughter, was by far my favorite.

Son (while watching the Arabian dancer known as "Coffee" in this version): "Which candy is she supposed to be?"

Daughter (while noticing the small amount of fabric comprising Coffee's costume and her bare mid-section): "The candy without a wrapper."

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Dissatisfied Kitty

Animals teach us about ourselves. Or, as animal behaviorist Temple Grandin says in the title of her book, "Animals make us human." As someone who wasn't allowed to have a dog or a cat as a child, I never realized how much this is true until I grew up, bought a house, and acquired cats and chickens. I never thought a chicken would help me feel the entire range of my emotions or that a cat would teach me to be happy with my life as it is.

Enter Lucy. Lucy the cat lived with a good friend of mine for a few months and did fine at their home, but my friend later told me that Lucy seemed unhappy cooped up in the house. When she arrived at our house, she was terrified by the mere presence of our non-aggressive other cat Patch, despite my careful study and observance of "cat introduction techniques". I tried to keep the two cats apart but our resident cat was too friendly and curious and Lucy was too...well...Lucy.

I'm certain she had no peripheral vision. Lucy would be playing with a shoe string or twist-tie, with all her attention focused on that, and Patch would get one inch from her face before she'd notice. She'd go into a hissing ball of flattened-eared Halloween kitty until she'd poop. No joke. Patch scared the poop out of her. I never knew that expression and its variations had roots in cat behavior.

Wherever Lucy was--she didn't like it. The house was too confining, the yard was too boring, the field and the barn were too scary (because heaven forbid she run into that Patch cat), the garage had too much cement, the flower beds had leaves that moved in the breeze and frightened her to death. The only thing Lucy wanted to do was eat and sit in the windowsill and complain. Until she discovered the field on the other side of the highway. Then, the only thing she wanted to do was run across the highway. Never mind that we have three perfectly good fields behind our home that are far away from the threat of man-made vehicles on four wheels.

Lucy loved to be cuddled and we did that as much as we could. My little boy loved her so much he gave her a long list of nick-names which he cooed to her every day, my favorite of which was "Princess of Hiss-A-Lot".

We'll miss Lucy. But I take lots of comfort in the idea of an animal heaven where Lucy has much more grandeur with which she can be dissatisfied. Perhaps our other cat, Milo, is giving her lessons on how to make friends and how to be happy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

An End...A Beginning

I won NaNoWriMo 2011 by completing 50,000 words on my novel at 7pm on November 30th. Cheering and celebratory dancing ensued and Mr. R surprised me with chocolate mints (my favorite) and a bottle of sparkling peach cider (we aren't champagne drinkers). We watched hilarious TV shows together for much of the evening and I floated on a cloud of simultaneous euphoria and shock that I'd finished a draft of a new novel.

I took two days off from writing to do some...

and to...

[images from Hyperbole and a Half ]

The next step is a read-through of THE SEAKEEPER, my middle grade fantasy novel which I haven't looked at since I began NaNoWriMo. I can already see the writing benefits of distancing myself from the manuscript by writing something else. So much perspective.

Now...on to the Christmas shopping and the task of locating something on my son's Christmas list which, I've just been informed, is no longer in the stores because the manufacturer went out of business. Anyone ever heard of Magformers? I know many people who will be sad to learn they are no longer being made. *sound of prices on leftover stock going up*