Kids care about more than simply presents at Christmas.

(originally posted December 30, 2009)

I have to admit that I was more excited for Christmas this year than the previous three years being a parent. This year, my son really got it...not in the 'he knows who Jesus is and what it really means' but in the guy in the red suit, eats cookies, drives a sleigh, etc. way.

Although we were on a tighter budget than usual this year, we still managed to make it big. When my son woke up, there was a shiny new 'big boy' bike and tons of little presents surrounding it. The tree was lit in the dark and half of the donuts we had to leave out instead of cookies were gone. Milk: polished off.

I laid in bed just waiting and silently begging my son to wake up and step outside of his room. Sure enough, at 6:30 he came padding toward our bedroom. He walked up, right next to my face and here's how the conversation emerged:

Son: Mommy, Santa's here.
Me: He's here right now?
Son: Mommy, Santa was here...and he brought me a bike.
Me: Oh really, well let's go see it.
Son: Come on. It's a bike! (runs out of the room)

My husband I jump out of bed (literally) and race into the living room. Our son is climbing all over the bike and going on and on about the shiny presents. But what he was most taken by was the fact that Santa didn't polish off the donuts we left out. He had three and only ate one and a half. Who would do such a thing!

Of course the bike has a horn, so it didn't take long for baby sister to wake up. And, like her brother, she went straight for the donuts, but decided to take it upon herself to finish them off for Santa.

What a perfect holiday. I didn't even care that none of the gifts were for my husband or I. Neither of us missed them. Our gifts are our children and the innocence we get to relive through them.

There are some things I can't control.

(originally posted December 15, 2009)

Scenario 1: My son came out of his playroom the other day carrying half of a marshmallow gun and a water gun. He pointed both at me and said, "Just pretending mom, just pretending...but put your hands up."

Part of me wanted to laugh and part of me has horrified. I immediately began thinking of all the ways he could have learned this behavior. Was it TV or a day care buddy, his dad or another relative...did it even matter where he learned it?

In my house we've always stressed that guns are for animals only (yes, I realize this could offend some) and not for people. My son knows that when his dad gets all dressed up in camo that he's not going off to shoot at other people, but at some animal. He may not know why but he's very aware of the fact that he wants to join in some day.

In the end, I decided to go along with it. I raised my hands and swore that I did nothing wrong and that he shouldn't shoot me or take me to jail...

Scenario 2: This morning as we were heading to school, my son noticed a vehicle in the ditch. It must have slide off the road during the last few days when the weather was less than delightful. He asked why the car was there and I explained that the person must have hit some ice and slide off the road. My son then asked where the driver was and if he was dead.

You can imagine my shock, but I said no, the driver isn't dead, he must have been picked up by someone and driven home. And that he'll be back to get his car once the snow melts a little. Smart as he son asked how I knew for sure that he wasn't in fact dead...

What amazes me so much here is how, at the age of 4, he can sort of grasp what it means to be dead. He knows that the person is no longer able to move, drive or speak. He just may not realize that it's permanent. Scary and yet incredibly amazing.

Playing Santa is harder than you'd think.

(originally posted December 4, 2009)

Santa doesn't want cookies and milk. He wants donuts.

The moment I heard this from my four year old son, the warning signs should have appeared. It was the first of many conversations we've had on the subject. And with Christmas being another three weeks away, it won't be our last.

My son is in full 'I believe in Santa' mode, which I love and struggle with all at once. This is the first year I have to speak in code to my husband about gifts. I have to hide everything related to the holiday other than the tree...which my son now believes just having the tree up means that Santa is on his way TODAY. I have to buy a million different types of wrapping paper. And lock my bedroom door every time I'm in there.

The odd thing is, I'm not really complaining. It's actually kind of fun and I'm finding myself freaking out that he might find me out. Which ultimately is forcing me to become child-like. It's fun to play this game with him. And it makes me even more excited for the big day.

It's easier to love when we're young.

(originally posted November 20, 2009)

A week ago my son and I were sitting together in our living room. Across from us hangs a large framed picture from my wedding. I'm not really sure why we were looking at the picture but my son got very serious and said, "Mommy, someday I'm going to marry Cali...because I love her."

I realize that he cannot marry his sister but it still warmed my heart. He understands (or seems to understand) that my husband and I love one another so much so that we chose to get married. Regardless of what he knows or doesn't know about marriage, I had to squeeze him tight that night. The simple fact that he expresses his love for his sister so freely is a wonderful gift.

Last night, we had a similar conversation, although this time he said he'd marry me someday and daddy could marry Cali. So now I'm guessing that he is associating marriage with love and maybe that's all it is. But again, it doesn't matter as long as he's loving more than he's hating. It seems the older we get, the more jaded we are and the more walls we build. It seems so much easier to pre-judge and choose to dislike someone than open up and let ourselves be a little vulnerable. I'm not sure if it's the heartache we experience along the way or our own self doubt. Either way, it's sad and I hope that through my children I can become more open to letting more people in.

Not having a baby around is just as fun.

(originally posted November 6, 2009)

After my son officially became a 'little boy' I felt a little depressed. Then my daughter came and it was like a void was filled once again by a chubby, cuddly bundle. And as she's started growing out of the baby phase, instead of feeling depressed and having an urge to re-fill that void, I'm realizing it's just as fun...if not more fun...without a baby in my house.

I'm realizing how much easier it is to communicate. How my family is becoming more a team who relies on one another and not so focused on one single person in our home. My son helps me out with my daughter and he's starting to help around the house (with prodding).

In fact, the other morning he came into my room while I was getting ready for work and let me know that he had had an accident and that not only were his jammies wet but so was his bed and his favorite blanket. I have to admit, that eliminated any sort of grossness that comes with knowing your child had an accident that you have to clean up. We stripped his bedding together and he helped me load the washing machine.

It's the little every day moments with him that make me appreciate him and celebrate his growth. Looking back I realize that in some small way I may have been holding our family back from really charishing each stage of our growth. I'm sure I'll still take it for granted. I'm sure I'll see babies and want to hold them close.

But at the end of the day, I look forward to seeing what my children have accomplished or are working to accomplish even more.