Tuesday, December 18, 2012

R is for Ridiculous

Ridiculous is the only word for my Christmas tree project.  It's seriously something worthy of Pinstrosity. (BTW, if you're a Pinterest fan and haven't checked out pinstrosity.blogspot.com/, you have to go take a look. Hilarious!) 

The Backstory
A few years ago, we had an artifical Christmas tree. It was pre-lit to save a little work when setting it up. And for the first year or two, it worked really well. But then some of the branches started to droop. The gaps grew bigger. The tree was wobbly. And the pre-lit lights started burning out. It was sadly bedraggled. And that was before the cat started climbing it. By the end of its last season, the tree was in bad shape. It just wasn't worth storing and pulling out again the next year. So out to the curb went the tree.

Instead of buying another artificial tree, I decided to go with something a little untraditional. We put up an outdoor tree of lights and used it as our Christmas tree. It was a bit unusual, but I liked it. It was actually quite convenient the way you could stack all the gifts inside the tree as a bit of protection from curious cats and toddlers.

But these trees are not very durable, either. So after a few years, it also found itself on the curb.

The Project
When it came time to put up a Christmas tree this year, we no longer had a tree - artificial, outdoor, or otherwise. I looked for something in my price range, but could not find something that I liked for a price I was willing to pay. And then I had a bright idea! I would create my own tree of lights.

I bought several strings of discount LED Christmas lights online, some green wrapping paper, and a bag of bows usually used to decorate presents. I spent about $15 altogether, which was right in my price range. :)

And then I started building the tree. I carefully cut out a traditional tree shape from the wrapping paper and stuck it to the wall with double-stick mounting tape. It looked good, but plain. So the next step was to add lights. I used the mounting tape to meticulously criss-cross my light strings and it looked pretty good! The kids stuck the bows all over the tree for the final touch. Unfortunately, I was unable to take a picture before the tape started giving way.

It turns out the paint on my walls has some sort of adhesive-repelling properties. (Marker, crayon, and dirt, however, are not the least bit repelled.) The tape would just not stick. So I pulled out the painter's tape and started fortifying the mounting tape with the familiar blue tape. It didn't look quite as pretty any more, but at least it was up. I took time to fix some dinner for the family - during which time the blue tape gave way as well, bringing most of the tree crashing down. Frustrated, I turned to the ultimate tape... traditional silver duct tape. The real stuff, too, not some knock-off brand. It didn't blend. It wasn't discreet in any way. But it was going STICK, darn it! Nothing beats duct tape. I taped that tree and lights with about half a roll of duct tape to be sure it wouldn't move. I watched it suspiciously for a while, but it seemed secure. I went to bed. And by the time we got up, the tree was falling from the wall. The paper was peeling down in strips. The bows were mostly laying on the floor. The lights had become a tangled ball dangling randomly from the front of the "tree."

Just what I had pictured when I had this idea, can you tell?

The Project - Take Two
This pathetic excuse for a tree remained for a couple of weeks until I finally had a chance to build it again. I finally wised up and bought a big box of pushpins. I cut out a new tree and pinned it securly to the wall. Then I wrapped the wires around the end of the pins. Much easier this time to criss-cross my light strings and keep them all up! I pinned the bows as well. So my wall is full of pin-holes, but my tree is up and has stayed that way for almost 2 weeks now! It's a pretty good-looking tree now, I think. Maybe even Pin-worthy instead of a Pinstrosity. :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Q is for Questions

Today I am questioning why people make such horrible choices. There are so many questions and thoughts racing through my head, but they all boil down to: Why did Adam Lanza decide to go into an elementary school and start shooting children?

I know that people have free agency to make their own choices, but it's never so hard to accept that doctrine as it is when terrible things like this happen. It doesn't lead me to question why God lets it happen, though, because I have faith that He is there. He is comforting those children now. He will comfort the families as much as He can. He weeps as much as we do over these terrible events, yet still he allows us all to keep our free agency - no matter how much it hurts.

A mass shooting is always a terrible event. I don't understand the thinking that leads someone to decide that is the course they should take. But as the mother of young children, this one hits even harder. I have a kindergartener. And for all that he drives me crazy at times, I would be devastated if anything were to happen to him. Since hearing the news of the CT shooting, all I can do is wonder What If.

What if it were my child's school? What if it were my child's classroom? What if it was my child? I am in tears. I am shaking and queasy and so, so sad. I can't imagine what the parents of those children are going through.

I don't know if we'll ever have answers to our questions about today's terrible tragedy. We may never know why Lanza decided to do this horrible thing. I wish we could know. I wish that knowledge would help us stop this from ever happening to another school, another family, another community.

I cannot find the answers. I cannot do anything to help from the opposite side of the country. But I can leave work to go see my babies and hug them all so tight. I can say a prayer of gratitude that I am still able to hold my family close. And I can love them with all my might every single day.

Excuse me while I go do that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

P is for Preston

Preston is my sweetheart little boy. He loves to come up and give you hugs. And cling and climb all over you. And just wants to be way too close all the time. But even if I occasionally have to cry Enough! to the clinginess and send him on to play, it's still sweet.

He's so tiny. He's currently outweighed by his 4-year-old brother and is only about an inch taller than Brekken. Needless to say, that makes him the smallest in his 1st grade class by far. But it rarely seems to register with him. He's such a little dynamo - constantly running here, there and everywhere. Aaron and I joke that the reason he doesn't grow is because he's so full of energy that he burns off every calorie he eats before it has a chance to do him any good!

Running, climbing, jumping off of things, breaking things, constantly fighting with his brother... he's all boy. Frankly, it drives me nuts sometimes. :)

He's also very emotional. Everything is a worst-case scenario for him. If he gets banned from the computer for an hour then he's NEVER GOING TO GET TO PLAY COMPUTER AGAIN! A time out leads to YOU HATE ME! YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO LET ME OUT OF THIS ROOM! Time to stop playing and get ready for church on Sunday? NO!! I HATE CHURCH! I'M NOT GOING! JUST LEAVE ME HERE BY MYSELF! And this in spite of the fact that once we're at church he has fun and frequently on the way home from church he tells us - I'm not going to throw a fit next week. I just forgot that I liked it. *sigh*

He loves dinosaurs. A few months ago he picked out a book about dinosaurs from his school book order. I looked at it - a 20 pg book about various types of dinosaurs - and then looked at the book next to it - a dinosaur encyclopedia of over 100 pages about every dinosaur currently known for only a couple of dollars more. I made the swap and got him the encyclopedia. It's best buy I've made for him! He adores that book. He looks at it every night. He and Aaron sat together for many nights until they had read every page. Now Preston sits with me and reads the pages to me. It makes me laugh a little that I sometimes have to help him with everyday words like first or later, but he has absolutely no problem reading paleontologist, Eoraptor, Dimetrodon, or Corythrosaurus. Nothing we've done to help him start reading has been anywhere close to as motivating as that impulse purchase of a dinosaur book.

He also loves to play on the computer. Given his choice, he would spend hours and hours on end just playing Lego and racing games and puzzles and alien wargames online. It's devastating to him when he is forced to move away from the computer and do something active. (Of course, once he has gotten over the fit, he moves like a whirlwind and wreaks so much havoc that you want to beg him to go back to the computer.)

His siblings are his closest friends. And his deadliest enemies. They laugh and play joyously together and then minutes later they're slugging it out in earnest. Screaming with laughter or screaming with rage. All in the course of a normal 10 minutes at our house.

In spite of the fact that he makes me crazy, I adore him. He's such a cute, precious child. We're lucky to have him in the family.

Monday, December 3, 2012

O is for Oops

I have soup for lunch pretty much every day. A different variety from day-to-day, sure (for example, today's offering is chicken and wild rice and tomorrow I'm going to get crazy with some pasta fagiole), but still - every day it's soup.

This habit is due less to my love for soup than to the fact that the local store often puts cans of Progresso soup on sale at 10 for $10. I stock up whenever there is a sale, then keep a supply in my desk at work so I always have lunch on hand. And for only $1 a day, I feel like I'm being fiscally responsible.

Having the same thing for lunch every day lends itself to creating a bit of a routine. Every day I reach blindly into my desk drawer to grab a can of soup. (This is where I get my excitement from lunch - I know it's soup, but until I pull it out I don't know which one! Whoopee!) I then go to the break room and pour the soup into a bowl, place the bowl in the microwave, and set it for 3 minutes. (It's always 3 minutes.) While it heats I refill my mug with ice and water, drop it off back and my desk, and make a quick visit to the ladies room. When I get back, my soup has finished heating and I can head back to my office to eat while I read a book.

Nothing too thrilling about the routine, but it generally works pretty well. Until today. When I apparently followed all the usual steps in my routine except the one that says I should press "Start" on the microwave before I walk away. Oops! I did follow the rest of my routine, including removing the soup from the microwave and sitting down to eat. I didn't notice until I took the first bite that it was stone cold.

I may be the only one laughing at this one - but I found it amusing. Not as good as the time my aunt popped a piece of gum in her mouth without removing the foil, but right up there with my sandwich last week that included the wax paper from my slice of cheese. :)