Tuesday, December 18, 2007

more getting into Christmas

We continue to ramp up the Christmas mood around here. Holiday movies are of course fun and festive. Making sugar cookies and candy with one of Kari's Christmas mixes playing in the background is essential, if not somewhat backbreaking.

Something I really look forward to every year is going to the Christmas concert of the Colorado Mormon Chorale. A huge part of that is going to see my father sing, but it really struck me this year how much the Chorale's concert really helps put me in the Christmas spirit. This year was extra fun because Katie got to come and share it. She loves music, but even more so when it's being sung by her Opa. I'm so happy that she could see him sing. This year was a nice mix of carols, primarily traditional but with a couple of wild cards thrown in as well. This year's African carol added some nice energy. It's so nice to go to a Christmas event where the focus of the activity is actually on the birth of the Savior.

I kept thinking throughout the concert that it was at one of dad's concerts that I first met the fellow who would eventually marry my sister. I remember coming up on them from the back, and thinking 'Wow! They already look like each other! Time is not going to make them morph into looking like the same person any more than they do right now.' What a great guy she found to be her partner.

If only she lived closer to help me wrap presents! And I mean wrap - I don't have enough pillow cases for all of the kiddos' goodies!

Friday, December 7, 2007

paper clips

I just finished watching the documentary Paper Clips. What a great little film. It really got me thinking of the power that one person really does have to bring about change, even from something seemingly small. In brief, a principal of a middle school in Whitwell TN was trying to come up with a project to help teach her students about diversity. Whitwell is a depressed rural community of about 1600 people - 97% of whom are white and protestant. They decided to study the Holocaust, and in the course of their studies needed a way to visualize what 6 million was. Paper clips chosen because they were worn by Norwegians as a silent protest against Nazi policies. The students started writing letters to people, and it slowly gained speed. From just a few paper clips to start, they have now gathered more than 30,000,000.

As the film started, I kept thinking how interesting is was that a school in the South would start a project like this. Whitwell - as described in the documentary - is 20 miles from where the Scopes Trial took place, and 100 miles from the birth place of the KKK. The assistant principal described growing up in a home where racial slurs were common, and even though he had a black roommate in college, he used them himself at times, even in front of his roommate. This just confirmed my stereotype of the South as being the center of all racism, based on my vast experience with books and movies and NEVER having visited the South in person. And then, the man talked about how people from the North and the West assume that all folks from the South are racist, ignorant hillbillies. While this project was started to teach their kids about diversity, he hoped it would also teach others about people from the rural South. OUCH. Here I was, feeling a bit of the 'I was raised in Boulder, went to school in Berkeley, aren't I the queen of tolerance toward all men' and he nailed it. That's exactly what I think. Ignorant, intolerant hillbillies. Not exactly consciously, but there nonetheless.

The actions of the Germans are of course an extreme example of intolerance run to the extreme. As are the actions of The KKK in the South. People don't just wake up and decide to eliminate a race of people. A judgement is made made based on something, and that judgement takes hold.

I know, this took a bit of a dark turn, but think about it. I'm not saying you're in danger of running out and grabbing a pitchfork, but how tolerant are you? Is different inherently bad? Really cooking my noodle is how to teach my own kids tolerance in a place where there aren't a tremendous number of people that are all that different from them. Guess I'm not as different as those 'hillbillies' from Tennessee after all.

It's just amazing to me what little sponges these guys are. The first thing that Alex does when he sees anyone is smile. He also loves to attack chins. It could be from the teething, but I like to think it's because he gets smothered with kisses all the time, and so he thinks that's how people greet each other, with complete and total happiness. Katie addresses him as Alex, but also as handsome, because that's what I call him. Katie is a little parrot - everything we say, she repeats. It's a good check for me - helps me to actually listen to what I say. Hopefully more good than bad will be absorbed by my little sponges.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

hooray for tivo

This morning I got to share another Christmas tradition with Katie, thanks to the magic of Tivo: we watched Uncle Dave reprise his role as Hermy in the classic claymation 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.' Roger hates it, but it's one of my favorites, although I have to admit that the Heat Meizer does one of my favorite song and dance routines of all time.

Any favorite videos that won't be missed this year?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

getting into Christmas

Here's where we see I am no photographer, and am also seriously lacking in the patience it would take to become such. Younce got me thinking about Christmas traditions, and so here we are. This year I was HOPING that Katie would be old enough to be excited about the ornament-a-day advent calendar, and I was right! At least so far. She likes to reach into the pockets, and is quite particular - SURPRISE! - about where she wants the ornaments to be hung on the tree. I like that this calendar is basically the same as the one we had when I was growing up, with just a few small changes to make it our own. Sewing sequins all over the place really did provide the effect I was looking for, although it took forever. I'd still like to do something more with the background to make it look like it's snowing, but I haven't come across any small snowflake-type sequins, and adding clear ones to make it sparkle just seemed like it would be more of what was already done on the tree. This was one of my favorite things growing up, and it's fun to be able to start this tradition with my own little family.
We found a good spot this year to put out part of the nativity set. It's fun to watch Katie check out the figurines and go over the Christmas story as we look at them all. It's also nice to have a visual reminder of the real reason for this season.

It's also fun to go out with Katie looking for 'Christmas Houses.' We took a meandering route home from the park the other evening - Captain Handsome had a long nap, so we were late making it outside. But it did provide a good excuse, albeit a bit nippy out, to go and check out some Christmas lights. I love that Katie gets excited to see Christmas lights, and all the kitschy stuff that people put in their yards. The cheesy gigantic blow-up deals are her absolute favorite!

I would like to copy Younce and make stockings that are unique and representative of each member of our family. Outside of Seven, however, I'm still just not certain what the theme of each stocking would be. Interests change. How do I figure out what Katie and Alexander will be into years from now? Or even myself and Roger for that matter. I'd probably be safe with ribs and a smoker on Roger's stocking. If I made a sock for Katie this minute, there would be dolls, trains, books, and M&Ms on hers. Alexander's would be covered in something drippy and gooey. Hopefully that will not always be the case! Harder still for me to do something that isn't just copied off of a pattern.

So, what are your favorite Christmas traditions? And . . . What would YOU put on a stocking for anyone in my family?!

Monday, December 3, 2007

faster than the speed of light

'NUMMMM! Man, this is dah-WISH-us!'

Someone is having some trouble letting go of the plug, and someone ELSE is having trouble with all the whining that comes along with that. It could also be that someone #1 is simply super-tired since she was up being a bookworm last night. At any rate, in an effort to distract her, I suggested we make 'fancy drinks' before lunch. Katie suggested lemonade, so today's drink was raspberry lemonade with seltzer and ice smashed up in the blender. Amazing what happiness a pink liquid drunk with a straw can bring! She's smiling so hard she can't even open her eyes! It made mom happy as well. I love a fancy drink as much as the next gal.

Moments later, girlfriend is all smiles, happily slurping away on her lemonade and contemplating eating some cheese sandwich, until she spies her advent calendar over on the wall . 'I want candy!' Since I'm the mom, I say NOPE!

Cue the tantrum! She still has a lot to learn as far as beating her hands on the ground and shrieking louder if she wants to compete with Aunt Mag for tantrum skills, but this one wasn't bad. Maybe it was just the contrast between total happiness and utter and complete sadness just seconds later that made it a good one.

Before too long, I'll have some video of Alexander climbing up the bookshelves. For now, he gets around by rolling like a roly poly, spinning around on his belly, and sliding backwards on the floor. Until the climbing shots, here's a good smile just so sister doesn't score all the print.