12 Kinds of Awesome

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I sang in choir from junior high through high school, in an a capella group in my sorority at U of I, and then later in the UIC choir.

I own CDs from The Other Guys and The Nylons.

Needless to say, I geeked out like you would not believe when I discovered Straight No Chaser.

Please enjoy a little bit o' hilarious holiday a capella awesomeness...

Pragmatic to a Point

Friday, December 24, 2010

A couple of weeks ago my BFF approached me with a strange request.

She is quite possibly the most pragmatic person alive, so it shouldn't have surprised me when she said admitted she was struggling handling the subject of Santa Claus with her 2 year old daughter (aka Bear's BFF "Yiyi").

She said she always wants her daughter to feel that she can trust her and that she is a reliable source of information.  Which means she can't bring herself to tell the Santa Claus myth.  But, she also doesn't want to deny her Santa altogether.

I promised to handle the Santa story for her.  Which is an easy promise to make, but tricky to execute when you've been struggling with it yourself.

After so many years of trying to conceive, I spent more than my fair share of holidays tearfully reading our tattered copy of The Night Before Christmas and wondering if there would ever be a tiny human snuggled on my lap to share it with.  I never doubted I'd go the Santa Claus route with any children I might be lucky enough to have.

Bear's first Christmas was easy enough.  He was only 5 weeks old and we were predictably schoompy about the whole thing.

But it's 3 years later, and I'm feeling a lot of uncertainty.  Now that he's this fascinating little human sponge / parrot hybrid, I feel keenly the weight of my responsibility to accurately inform him about the world.  And we're uber geeky secular humanist types, so we take scientific literacy very seriously.

Yet, I'm the same girl who - just a few weeks ago - admitted to my husband while watching Harry Potter that I wished magic was real.  I share my dear friend's pragmatism... to a point.

Since standing in a long line of heinous brats noisy kids at a blindingly bedazzled mall to sit on the lap of a stranger is hard for the average preschooler, obviously it's flat out impossible for a child with SPD.  So, I had a little leeway with the Santa conversation and decided to wait until the omnipresent seasonal imagery raised the question.

Now, the questions are here and I'm living that nightmare where you show up naked for a final exam you forgot to study for.

Grandma made Santa when I was born
There is something so wonderful in witnessing a child getting excited about Santa Claus for the very first time.  It's especially fun around here because this year it coincided with huge leaps in language skills and so quickly follows his 3rd birthday party (at which he first grasped the concept of "omg presents for ME?!?!")

So, I never thought about NOT going the Santa route, but the more I wrestle with it the less I feel like doing it old school - especially the whole emotional blackmail naughty vs. nice bit.  When your child struggles with SPD, a behavior the average outsider may perceive as "naughty" might be the very best they can do in a particular situation. There is no way I'm going to make that any harder for him with threats about Santa.

A 4th century figure for the 21st century
I've always felt strongly that generosity of spirit is something we should practice as a matter of course, and this time of year the rest of the world joins me in that sentiment.  Since the original St. Nicholas was a real man known for generosity to those in need, I figure that's a pretty good place to start.

At this age, I'm content to read classic tales about a jolly old elf with flying reindeer.  Their fascination is a joy to behold, and that's enough for me.

But next year... or maybe the one after that.  When they're older and wiser and pose precocious questions beyond their years, I think I'll be ready.  I can feel good about telling them that Santa Claus was a real man who lived such an inspiring life he helped the whole world understand that there is magic in giving.  We celebrate what he taught us through giving to others, and that will keep him alive in our hearts forever.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Tacky

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This first appeared in 2005 on Hitting My Stride (my triathlon blog). But the phenom has grown to epidemic proportions, so I was inspired to elaborate. 

As my nearest and dearest are aware, I have no patience for the zeal with which people display the most gawd awful Christmas decorations. When we drive past a particularly heinous display we will exclaim, with the joy of the season in our hearts, "Look, honey! Christmas puked in their yard!"

The newest trend in the annual travesty of taste are giant inflatable yard decorations. It started a few years ago with an occasional puffy Santa and devolved into an absurd collage of holiday-spirit-cum-pop-culture. (Does anyone else have a problem with 10 foot tall Santa Homer or Reindeer Scooby Doo?)

More than once we've joked about declaring open season on these earthbound Macy's parade rejects and driving around town with a pellet gun.

As new figures came on the market, some folks got the bright idea to put out little groupings of them - some of which approach what I can only imagine are LSD induced nativity hallucinations.

Now, of course, the folks who were creating makeshift nativities don't have to worry, because some enterprising d-bag took bastardization of the season to whole new levels with the creation of this monstrosity:

I'm an atheist and still find this offensive to Christian theology.

Hellbound blaspheming blowups aside, there is one local twit who still holds the record in my book for holiday WTFness. 

Oddly enough for a season in which people strive to out-garish each other, this blunder is elegant in its simplicity. These aren't folks that shingled their roof with lights or filled their yard with plastic reindeer and blinking candy canes. They have a single inflatable Santa. And at some point, these folks must have asked themselves "how can we make the most of our lonely balloon Santa?" And then they must have gotten high, because their solution was... (drumroll please)... to suspend Santa from a tree.

Yep. A tree. The topmost rope is nearly 40 feet in the air, so this took some serious effort. I'm guessing heavy equipment rental was involved. And, while I assume they were going for a benign "father Christmas looking down on us all" motif, the result falls far short.

A number of ropes going in various directions off Santa into the tree create a prisoner-on-the-rack effect, and for that special redneck touch they anchored his feet to a wheelbarrow. It's creepy in general, and is particularly disturbing when the wind blows, adding a Santa-having-a-seizure effect. When he's not inflated, it looks like a body that's been on the gallows for too long.

I desperately want to meet these people so I can ask them why they hung Santa in effigy.

Another Kind of Holiday Self Control

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This time of year, most people worry about exhausting their willpower reserves to resist overindulging in holiday sweets.

Is there anything more symbolic of holiday overindulgence?

I'm not gonna deny that I have a giant sweet tooth and struggle with the sugary holiday bounty as much as the next girl.  But there's another thing that's actually quite a bit harder for me to control this time of year.

My beloved Bear is always up for whatever new and interesting thing is going on in the house.  Last year he has just turned 2 when the tree went up.  We gave him a couple of plastic ornaments, he goofed around the tree a bit, threw them at the dogs and wandered off.

This year it was a different story.  He was so into it he got upset if he caught anyone else putting up "tissus oments." 

This challenge was multiplied because we don't just put ornaments on the tree - I string garland around 3 big windows and doorways and hang ornaments there as well.

He eventually accepted that we could work together to deck the halls, and the job got done.  But it turns out the hardest thing for OCD me and the Martha Stewart that lives in my head was the wonky little clusters of ornaments that shriek "BEAR WAS HERE!!" in most endearing fashion.

The sappy mommy in me is proud to leave this off-kilter evidence that my baby is growing up and taking part in family holiday traditions.   But the OCD monster in me desperately wants to fix them when he's not looking.

I won't let my own issues ruin his proud handiwork.  I just wish it wasn't such a mental battle for me (though I'm happy to note my urge to interfere diminishes with each passing day).  I'm trying to simply enjoy this phase, because I know it'll only last one or two Christmases.

Looking Forward

Friday, December 17, 2010

The scene at my back door:

What my neighbors think it means:
I'm a poor sweet doggy left all alone out in the snow and nobody loves me. Won't you take pity on me? Pleeease? Let me in where it's warm and dry so I can shed on the couch pleeasse?

What it really means:
omg you guys there's snooooooowwww!!! And it's aaawweesoooooome!!! omgomgomg you have so totally got to get out here and check this out! Plleeeaaaaaaaaase won't you come out to play? Huh? Huh?! Comeoncomeoncomeoncomeon come out and play in the snow with meeeeeee!!!!

I adopted Kona 4 years ago because I was a triathlete who needed a running buddy and he was an under trained, overly energetic abandoned pup who needed to live with someone who needed a running buddy.  I still feel guilty for turning up pregnant 3 months after he joined our family and suddenly making him live a slower paced life he wasn't built for. 

Bear's and Kona's energy levels are a match made in heaven, and every day that passes brings us *this* much closer to a heartwarming boy and his dog scenario worthy of the smarmiest Hallmark channel movie.  Watching Bear growing up with this sweet, wonderful dog for a best friend is one of the things I'm looking forward to most of all.

2011 SPD Awareness Calendar

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The new 2011 SPD Awareness Calendar is now available for purchase at Sensory Plant for only $12.50!

Proceeds will be donated to the SPD Foundation and The Children’s Institute for Learning Differences (CHILD).