Christmas Sentiment

This year, I’ve had a nearly overwhelming sentiment to my family and the traditions we had when I was growing up. So when I heard this song by Tim Minchin on the radio on Eve’s morning, it struck home. Hard.

Minchin’s a native of Australia and is raising his family in England. Christmas memories for him are of Summer, a warm and sunny place. Though California’s not exactly in its hotter days of the year, it too is a naturally warm, sunny place. And I have as many family memories of Summers visiting family all over as I do from the holidays.

“White Wine in the Sun” is a feeling strongly infused with family for me. On those hot days, I learned from my grandma to just pop an ice cube in your white wine to keep it chilled, and it stays just as tasty. As we kids, my sister and cousins, grew up, it got easier to just enjoy one another’s company. Have a dinner, drink some perfectly pressed grapes, and revel in life itself. Nothing loud or overwhelming; my family is generally small and quiet.

Christmas got better as I got older, I think. The gifts were great, but they could wait. Waffles from scratch with a side of bacon were of utmost importance. We would see each other and eat meals together when we could. But even as a kid, I was just as excited to visit my cousins or my Auntie as I was to tear open those gifts.

Even now, so far away, my own family grown and active, it’s thinking back to my family times that warms my heart. Meatballs passed around my one grandma’s table, or cheese and crackers on my other grandma’s patio under the vine-covered canopy, those are my times. Those warm days, mentally or meteorologically, drinking white wine in the sun.

So I listened to Tim Minchin in my car, in the closed garage, on a quiet Christmas Eve morning. Tears in my eyes.

It’s tough being away from so many of my family. I love them. I miss them. They’re who I grew up with.

Merry Christmas. Mine is, and I hope yours is too. The sentiment is as lovely as the day itself.

Onward and Upward

It feels like a long time coming, writing this.
After five years, half a decade (to make it sound more impressive), I’m bidding farewell to my school and am working in the private sector. The new gig is at an ad agency in the city, where the hip people are. I’m still doing IT support, but then again I’m going to go way beyond that. There are opportunities to wield computer systems in ways I’ve only speculated on before. I’m going to become the second in a two-man team to keep these systems running. It’s very cool, geeky stuff.

I found this gig through Craigslist of all places. To add to the utterly coincidental nature of it, it was using an utterly unprofessional cover letter. They hired me on for a month of contract work this summer. Following some very kind compliments, I was offered to stay on full-time. After much deliberation over the weekend, on Monday I accepted the offer and submitted my resignation to the school.

Still, so many years and misplaced ventures are being left behind. I will miss some of what I used to do, but oddly most will have nothing to do with my job requirements. The computer work was fine, but stagnant. Working with the kids, though, was great. Between the occasional snot-nosed punk were huge swaths of good-natured, budding minds that were as insane as they were delightful. And I learned so much from the good people who stood in front to show them their world.

I’m glad to be moving on. Very glad. There is a lot of ground to recover for them, and I wish them all the best. But I’m happy to move to a place where I am the one learning so much and getting inspired again. I’m surrounded by incredibly creative, savvy people and I can only image what I will glean from them. Hopefully they won’t mind me asking questions about their work.

It has been a long, bittersweet day. I’m not a very sentimental person, and I loathe goodbyes, so I’m glad the school was nearly empty as I carried my banker’s box out.

I’m not one to believe in signs either. But after loading my box into the back of my little station wagon, buckling up, and turning the ignition, the classical station came on. It was in the middle of playing Shostakovitch’s Festive Overture.

It felt appropriate.

Wisdom Teeth Extracted…

At around 10:30 this morning, I went under general anesthetic. At 11:11 (a very lucky number) I was awake enough to ask the time. My two wisdom teeth were out and in their places were a pair of chunks of bloody gauze. I was still fading in and out, and my dearly beloved was smiling her beautiful smile, holding back from utterly mocking me in my state.
Recovery has been easy, really. I just sat around watching movies, waiting for numbness to subside enough for me to down some ibuprofen and penicillin. Then yogurt. By the evening, I was up and making dinner for the kids.

It’s not that M wasn’t helpful. She handled Em in all her snotty, cold-laden glory. For me, since I was able to be up and about, following my routines helped distract me from the pain and hunger.

Still, I tried a homemade egg drop soup. Simple and worked okay: 2 cups of chicken stock, 2 lightly beaten eggs, and a bit of salt. Boil the broth, slowly pour in the eggs, gently breaking them up a bit with a fork. Last, add a touch of salt for taste (not that I could taste all that much). Don’t add too much salt, because you don’t want to hide the flavor of the egg. I also want to try adding a bit of ginger next time I have a cold; supposedly that will help.

I was also able to gum down a bit of what I call bachelor chow (a la Futurama). It’s just a pound of ground beef for tacos, with a can of refried beans mixed in at the end. Long-lasting leftovers no one else in the house will touch. I made it in anticipation of my surgery.

Sorry for all the food talk. I got hungry after mandated fasting before the anesthetic, a minimum of six hours. Now I’m waiting to take another dose of preventative penicillin before bed.

Cabinetry and Bicycles…

Recently I acquired something awesome. Now, my awesome is of a different definition than most. I live in a different universe than everyone else; I know that for certain. I once told my five year old son that what he said was interesting and he replied, ‘No, Dad, it’s not interesting.’ He knows better than I do, certainly.
Still, I think this development at my household will be appreciated by some. Check out what I scored for my garage:

garage-cabs11

That’s right, I got cabinets! In one fell swoop, I managed to quadruple my storage and give me a workspace for about 25¢ of gas. It was sitting out in the back of the school to be thrown out. So it’s heavy, ugly, used, and since it came from the teacher’s lounge, covered in coffee stains.

In other words, it’s perfect! There’s even room for the cat food and water dispensers at the end of it. I can actually start storing things without taking up more space and have a place to work on stuff outside of a basement closet. I still have some cleaning and sorting (and pitching) to do, but the garage is on its way to being useful. Here’s another view:

garage-cabs2

And yes, that’s the Lad with his patented grin wearing a bicycle helmet. And on top of the shelf in the background is my sweet new glow-in-the-dark basketball to replace the one that, ahem, a certain Uncle managed to puncture (wink). The bike was the big Easter present from Mom and Dad this year. He’s mighty stoked. And of course, knowing he’s being filmed means he’s going to grin at the camera.

Come and Gone…

A whole year passed since my daughter was born. My parents came out this past weekend to join us in celebrating, and the Lass rewarded them with lots of smiles and even five new steps. It was a grand visit for sure. I think they enjoyed sitting back and just being with the grandkids. This was good, because I apparently had a bout of food poisoning to get over (it’s a week later now, and I finally am feeling more like myself).
My dad and I did a number of little projects around the house. He always has good ideas for solving the problems I have. I still need to complete putting chicken wire in the basement ceiling to keep the cats out. But at least some holes have been patched, doorstops installed, and a baby gate blocking the stairs. The Lass is really enjoying having more room to roam.

It still is astounding how much faster life travels when you are older. I think kids really make a difference with that too. As a parent, a big chunk of your life is lived for them, but time does flow right past, even while you’re not concentrating on yourself. And rather than celestial events to use as markers, you use your children’s events.

A year ago, my daughter was born. It was a little warm, but it snowed and got slushy. She held my finger so tight while she was wheeled to the nursery to have blood drawn and tests done (all standard stuff). My wife and I hadn’t settled on a name quite yet since after being born, she didn’t fit the ones we had thought of originally.

Then life kept moving. She’s gone from nothing to a smiling, babbling, nearly walking kid with a sense of humor. Just a year. But it also feels like so much more than a year, as if it was a different life entirely when my son was still in daycare and Mommy was home with the baby.

Now I have a new life to handle. The Lass up and about, and will be more and more. Toddling is coming. Meanwhile, the Lad is moving up and out. Riding a bike and skateboard will be happening shortly. High chances of handling crappy neighbors will probably follow. I hope that this summer he can find a kid or two nearby that can fulfill the needs for a friend that I cannot (and frankly should not).

Rock The Vote!

From my wife:

Hey everyone! Emily is entered into the Star Tribune’s cutest baby contest. The winner is decided by user voting and I need some help!! The voting is only open for 1 day for each of the 10 voting rounds so I need everyone I can get to vote for Emily. If you click on the link below you can register to vote. Emily’s picture is below in case you don’t go right to her page. She is on the very first page.

Thank you!!!

http://startribune.upickem.net/engine/Details.aspx?PageType=VOTING&ContestID=5242&SubmissionID=543077&IncrementNumber=2#SubmissionDisplay

image002.jpg

Addition: It appears you can vote every hour, so please do so if you’re inclined!

What Have I Been Doing?

I know the fastest way for a blog to commit suicide is to not post. The next best way to kill a blog is to talk about blogging. So instead of all that, I’ll list all the things I’ve been doing instead.

  • Tending to ill children. Since the beginning of the year, I have had a single week of being at work for my full hours. There’s always been at least one member of the family ill, including myself. I’d get a call in the middle of the week saying one of the children has a fever and I’d have to get them and keep them home for an extra day. And if you think you’re in a place to be even minimally creative when you’re cradling a baby with a 104 degree fever, you’d be wrong.
  • Reading. Not all that much; just a couple of novels. Still, it’s far more than the nothing I’d previously been reading. And to my wife’s great satisfaction, I have read the first book of the Twilight series. It was good, but it definitely reads as a teenage chick book, including the irrationality that goes in the mind of its target audience.
  • Working. When I’m not handling sick children. It’s been both busier at work and, at the same time, unmotivating. There’s been enough to keep me occupied lately; we’ve switched over to new servers, so we’ve of course had to deal with bugs that crop up with that. But the lack of quieter downtime keeps me from working on other projects and following the blogs that I formerly did. That all becomes a damper on my inspiration to blog.
  • Experimenting in the kitchen. The lad and I have been watching cooking shows. I’ve been inspired to toy around with what little I know about food. I should take some cooking classes; I’ve always wanted to. But until that time and money frees up (cough), my family will be my guinea pigs.
  • Journaling. Again, at least more than usual. I don’t know how long I have been writing for myself. Since junior high? Maybe late elementary school? Either way, I’m glad I’ve been putting pen to paper more often than twice a month.
  • Nothing. It always feels like nothing. I have felt really stagnated for a while now. Getting myself into a new teaching licensure program has been slow. Taking so long to get healthy around here has meant falling behind housekeep. It’s been just a matter of existing from day to day.

Sorry to end on a downer. To cheer you up, go watch some season six of The Simpsons. That’s what I’m doing for my last day of spring break and I am laughing plenty.

But the ball! His groin! It works on so many levels!

Belated…

Thanks, folks, for sending me the kind birthday wishes. And I’m sorry if I didn’t get back to some of you who sent me messages. My day went a little stupid and then ended with, thankfully, a nice dinner out (steak!) and rummaging through a bookstore.
I have a strange relationship with birthdays and their ilk. It’s nice to wished well, but I think it’s the quantity of the acknowledgements all at once that brings out my inner agoraphobe. When I know that lots around me, especially people I barely speak to, will up and talk to me because it just happens to be a birthday or a family member recently died. I have a strange preference to celebrate or (especially) mourn in quiet solitude.

Then there is the fact I’m 26 and I have a family. My birthday is pretty low on the food chain in comparison to kids’ birthdays, first/last days of school, anniversaries, major holidays, ValgoddamnHallmarkentine’s Day, cats’ birthdays, and British Bank Holidays. So there’s a lack of importance even on my radar. Maybe I’ll care when I’m 30 and contemplating running for Senate.

The number brings up another point: I have a little bitterness toward being young. At least, I am usually in comparison to the people in any given room. Of course I’m older than the students around here, but they also can readily see that I look 60. Or 19. Or 48. Or 22.

But knowing that I’m the younger fellow in a room usually makes me think that people look down on me for it. I do admit it’s in my head entirely. But there is that hesitation to speak in me partly based on that. Just the same as ‘I’m not as educated, I don’t have as much experience, this person started talking and is totally wrong but I don’t want to cause strife’ bogus ideas that run through my head.

All that said, I do think birthdays should be everyone’s own personal floating holiday. No matter what, if your birthday lands on a regular weekday, you get it off, free of charge. For those whose birthdays land on a weekend that year, tough, we all have that occasionally. For those on national holidays, you can pick the day before or after (so long as it’s a working weekday). No massive trips or flight congestion or run-up flower prices. Just a day for you.

However, don’t forget your birth isn’t entirely about you. Some time should be devoted to the woman who gave birth to you. They deserve the credit for not devouring you like other species would after all that nonsense you pulled as an infant. First-borns especially owe Mom for all the havoc wreaked upon her body when first transitioned for motherhood. Follow-up kids (as I just now deemed them) don’t necessarily have this burden on them, but then again, they’re totally uncool copycats anyway.

Thanks, Mom, for letting me be. It’s meant a lot.

Go Robot…