Wednesday, December 23, 2015

it came upon a midnight clear

This time of the year is always magical.  But this year, the lights are a little brighter ... the songs are a little merrier ... and the feeling is just a lot more holy.

All the pathology reports are back and the right side tumor was negative.  My healing is progressing - slowly but surely - and I'm grateful for family, friends, and joy.   I've been like George Bailey, smiling from ear to ear, hugging my children and husband at every possible moment, and winking at the heavens every time I hear a bell ring.

"Atta boy, Clarence. ATTA BOY!" 

When my mother was here, in between working with the children on their knitting...


And playing games of Connect Four ...


Mom took on the task of wrapping all of our December books for us while the children were in school.


Each night this month, we've read a page from our Advent book, and unwrapped a Christmas book while the excitement has been steadily, steadily, growing.


Last year at this time, William and I had "the talk" about Santa.  And this past October, as I was tucking the girls in to bed one night, they asked about Santa.  They'd already had several questions about Jackson the Elf (including why they found him in our Virginia closet this past summer before our move?!), and after hemming and hawing, I told them the truth about the Man in Red, just as I had told their brother.

I also let them know that although William knew, Henry didn't and it was very important for us to preserve the magic for him.

Even though the older kids KNOW the truth, the girls choose not to BELIEVE the truth, about Jackson or Santa, which is 100% fine by me.  If they want to keep writing letters to Santa, and excitedly hunt around the house each morning for the Elf alongside Henry, I'm more than happy to oblige.

Now before I go any further, it's important to mention that last year we put the triplets in braces.

I'd seriously debated putting Elizabeth in, because she was still sucking her thumb and I didn't want to put for the effort (or money), if she wasn't committed to having straight teeth.  But she promised me.  Crossed her heart and pinky swear'd and all of that.  No surprise to anyone (least of all me), she didn't give up sucking her thumb, because she couldn't function without Bunny.

So this year the braces came off, and the thumb is still in and I'm again reminded how the wise do not trust their children with a secret, nor make deals with said juveniles.  I've also been frequently encouraging Elizabeth to try and go a day or more without Bunny and thus, thumb sucking.  Because the only time she sucks her thumb is when she has Bunny.

So this week, Jackson the Elf - who let me remind you, the triplets know is not real - hijacked Bunny.  When we woke up on Sunday morning,  as I posted on Twitter, Jackson was perched way on top of the kitchen cabinets, with Bunny in his clutches.  We laughed and laughed, thinking how funny it was that Bunny would get a ride to the North Pole and meet Santa.

Everyone laughed, including Elizabeth.

Jackson our Elf-on-the-Shelf has taken a hostage. Looks like Bunny is going to the North Pole...!
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I'm thinking how great it would be if Bunny appears at the bottom of Elizabeth's stocking on Christmas morn, smelling of peppermint and wearing a little red scarf.

I've got it all planned out. 

But the next day, when Jackson appeared on a chandelier still clutching Bunny, it wasn't funny anymore and Elizabeth wanted Bunny back.  Now. Now. Now.

On Monday, Henry sneaks in to our bedroom closet and discovers (almost) the entire unwrapped present stash which had been hidden beneath blankets.  Fortunately, we intercepted him before he gave a FULL REPORT to his siblings. We immediately sit the children down and talk to them about the excitement and anticipation of Christmas, the element of surprise, and the feeling of magic.  Much of that will disappear if they are sneaky, so please let's not ruin the surprise, or we'll have no choice but donate all those toys. And they'll get coal.

Charlie takes off to bring Henry to a birthday party, and I'm home with the the trio and we're sitting down at the table, beneath Jackson (and Bunny) to work on math.  While I'm all for sleeping in, and watching movies, and playing nonstop ... I'm also an advocate for keeping their minds sharp.  At least a few times during their break from school,  I'll have them write in their journals and work on IXL.  (If you have children and haven't yet discovered IXL, discover it now ... it's the best online math program I've found!)

William and Carolyn plow through their math, no problem.  Elizabeth, who was off to a good start and is fully capable of doing her math, starts to slip.  She becomes distracted and wants Bunny back. Her bottom lip comes out, as I'm telling her that first and foremost, legend has it we aren't supposed to touch the Elf.  Also, she promised me she'd stop sucking her thumb if we put her in braces and more than a year later - she is still sucking her thumb.  And then the tears start to roll. And roll.  

And roll. 

I'm probably going to do a dismal job of explaining what an overly dramatic tween is like.  But if you have - or have ever had one - you might understand.  This may come as a surprise, but my Elizabeth, my precious sweet child that I adore more than life itself,  is one of the most overly dramatic tweens that has ever lived.  At least,  she eclipses and then repeatedly orbits her identically aged tween siblings. As I've previously conveyed, one of her nicknames is Loki, because of the chaos she will intentionally cause.

I know there is a reason behind this irrational behavior, and I'm working on that tirelessly. The cure involves a lot of one-on-one time, patience, and love, love, love.

You know, the key ingredients to parenting, or life, in general.

But there we are on Monday, the Winter Solstice - the triplets and me.  Christmas music is playing in the background, cheery sparkling lights are on throughout the house, the smell of pumpkin spice muffins fills the air.  Carolyn and William have finished their math, and are writing to their Compassion friends, and Elizabeth is now on the brink of a seizure because her Bunny - which she knows is safe, and will come back to her, is currently in the clutches of a fictious Elf, above her.

After a few minutes of trying to logically work through the situation and fairy tale consequences, my patience meter - along with the patience meters of William and Carolyn - was tapped out.  I reached up and grabbed Jackson off the chandelier, and pulled Bunny out of his arms as a look of horror swept across Elizabeth's face.

Handing Elizabeth Bunny, I took a deep breath and said, "Elizabeth, how else would I get Bunny down if I didn't touch Jackson? You knew that this would happen...."

She throws her hands over her face and continues to cry, "YOU RUINED THE MAGIC! YOU RUINED THE MAGIC!"



The one who is slowly recovering from brain surgery and has done everything within my ability to make this Christmas a special one?? 

Suspecting that I might be trespassing in the parental fail zone from which there is very seldom any return,  I had an out of body experience and watched in disbelief as a mother who looked just like me went in for the field goal and dropped kicked that Elf across the living room.

Mrs. Clause shoots ... and scores.

After a brief stay in the Elf hospital, Jackson is back to work today, Bunny is MIA, and I'm reminded how fiercely human we all are.  Thank goodness for apologies and forgiveness.

And every so often ... egg nog with a little spot of brandy.