Saturday, December 30, 2006

Post-Christmas blues

On a dreary Saturday, my mood matches the atmosphere on the sixth day of Christmas. Something just seemed off this year. Maybe it was because this is the first year without my mother, or that the holiday came WAY before I was ready for it, or that we weren't here to open presents Christmas morning. After spending the night Christmas Eve at my brother's, Faith stayed the rest of the week with her aunt and uncle and returned last night. In a matter of minutes, she made her way through our gifts for her and those left by disappointed relatives who missed her while she was away. Bang. It's over. I didn't even get all the decorations out and now many folks have already packed theirs away for next year. I shouldn't be so blue. We're about to celebrate Christmas with my husband's family. It's beginning to look like Christmas all over again and I should be happy my husband didn't get me six geese-a-laying.
-- Liz Fabian

Thursday, December 28, 2006

mall madness

I thought BEFORE-Christmas shoppers were intense until I went to the mall today and encountered the AFTER-Christmas shoppers.
The orthopaedic surgeon says the best thing for me is walking, but I can't lift anything. My neighborhood is full of hills, so I thought I'd head to the mall for a litte flat-surface spin. A neighbor had a Bath and Body Works gift card, so Daniel and I tagged along. Well, apparently $3 body wash is a massive draw. I confess to getting five bottles, and standing in line to pay. But I don't think I've ever seen a store so crowded! Fortunately, Daniel has been clingy lately and wanted nothing more than to hold my hand!
So I walked, Daniel carried, and now I'm sore and ready to call it a night. Kind of sad when just a turn through the mall wipes you out - and you only went to one store!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ready or not

The question kept coming up every where I went. "Are you ready for Christmas?" The answer was, "No." If asked today, the answer would still be, "No." Although I shop year-round, getting the packages wrapped and under the tree is always a challenge. Here is one of the times I really embrace my Catholic upbringing. Ahh, the 12 Days of Christmas. We are now on Day 3. Perhaps I will have all the gifts ready by Day 12, which is January 5th. I've been sorting the presents by priority. We won't see my husband's family until next week, so I'll be ready for them. Because we missed our first deadline of having the cards out just after Thanksgiving, we'll have to really hustle to get them out before the dozen drummers come calling. Thank goodness the wise men are on the front of our cards. The feast of Epiphany, which celebrates their coming to see the baby Jesus, is on January 6th. Of course, historians say Jesus was really about two years old when they came - sooo, I guess if I get the cards out by 2009 I'll still be OK.
--Liz Fabian

Saturday, December 23, 2006

no slowing him down

Daniel and I have been home together for three days now.
Three days in which I'm still moving at half-speed from my surgery and he's moving at twice the speed of preschooler, it seems. How many times can I yell "walk!" as the thundering of small feet carries down the hallway? Haw many times do I have to say "STOP!" just prior to full disaster?
This morning, my young man learned the hard way that I'm not chastising him to walk, not run, in the house. He had just finished writing a thank-you note and I told him to get his shoes so we could walk it down to the mailbox. He pivoted and sped away - right into the corner of the kitchen counter. I was sure we were headed to the ER for some x-rays.
But once the sobbing stopped and I checked his eyes, I decided the eye bone was still in place and he just had a giant goose-egg on his forehead. And now he's off and running again. *sigh*

Christmas weather

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - at least the Christmases I remember as a kid!
Because even though I was born in Michigan and still claim that snowy state as my home state, my family spent six years in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, while I was growing up. And I remember getting things like roller skates for Christmas, which I promptly put on and tried out.
So 75 degrees and sunny feels just like Christmas, to me!

Similar stories

When I read Liz's post about the angel ornament, I was reminded of my granddaddy's pecan tree. It was the only thing off-limits to us grandkids growing up. No climbing on that tree! And each year, it produced plump fruit - enough to fill grandma's freezer. Twelve years ago, when grandaddy passed, so did the tree. The first time we went to grandma's and that massive pecan tree was missing from the yard, it was like losing him all over again. I think there are tangible items we associate with the people in our lives, and more than any headstone, they remind us of those we have loved and lost.

The lost angel

She's gone. After writing my Christmas column in the paper last week, I've been eagerly anticipating finding the tiny angel decoration that adorned one of my packages at my first Christmas. I was a little more than two months old, but as the years went on, my mother made sure I knew the significance of that two-inch celestial being fashioned of chiffon and pipe cleaners. She always found a little perch on my tree, although the years were beginning to take their toll. Her gown needed a little freshening up to mold her back into shape. I can't believe she's gone. This morning, I still had another box of ornaments to sort through and I was sure she was there. She wasn't. The star of my story, the ornament that started it all, is missing. I don't think there's much of a chance I'll find her. She's likely swimming with the fishes now. The only thing I can think of is that she was left on the tree last year when we took it down. She's so small and is usually nestled on an inner branch. Perhaps she fell down into the tree and was overlooked. The tree is at the bottom of Lake Sinclair now as a fish haven. I hope they enjoy her. Of course she only meant something to me and my mother - and Mom's gone too. I had anticipated crying over some smashed ornament that might have slipped out of Faith's grasp, but I never imagined grieving over my angel. It seems so silly to be crying about something so small. Only Mom would understand.
- Liz Fabian

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Timing is everything

As I went to bed last night, I was delighted to switch off my alarm clock. Today is Faith's first day of Christmas vacation. When I was getting into bed well after midnight, I thought about how nice it would be to wake up when my body was ready instead of when an electronic beep roused me from my sleep. What a joy it would be to get a little extra rest, I thought. Well, Faith's stubborn internal clock had other plans. Before the sun was over the horizon, she bopped into our room and woke us up. The same child who has to be pried from her bed on school days, was bouncing around telling us to get up. When I reminded her she didn't have school, she did climb into our bed for a little bit. But now she's ready to go-go-go. Some vacation. I wish she had a snooze button.
--Liz Fabian

Monday, December 18, 2006

life insurance for your babies

Just after Daniel was born - and I mean like within a month - I had a small life insurance policy on him. It's like $10 a month, and just carries enough to cover the exorbitant cost of a funeral.
Morbid? I prefer realistic. And why, a week before Christmas, am I telling you this?
We've had a tragic death in the family. My favorite uncle's only daughter passed away - we think of natural causes - at her college in Eastern Michigan. (
And now her parents - business owners, smart, funny, loving people, are faced with not only the loss of their daughter, but at least a week of having their small-town business closed and having to deal with the cost of an autopsy and funeral. For anyone living paycheck-to-paycheck (what family with kids isn't) this could be a back-breaker.
It's certainly been a heartbreaker.

Friday, December 15, 2006

No Bounty this holiday?

Is is just me, or did the holiday paper towels and napkins come and go already? It seems as though I saw some and thought, "I'll get that later." Are designer holiday napkins the latest Elmo tease for adults? That got-to-have item that quickly sells out and creates a furor? Please paper-products cartel, don't do this to me. I have too many deadlines to meet to add advanced paper-product purchasing to the list. Maybe I'm a little weird about my paper towels, but I like to pick out the pretty little prints. Light bulbs, holly and my all-time favorite - the Peanuts gang. There's just something about those little faces that can even brighten up cleaning the kitchen. Well, I've stocked up on another 9-pack of Bounty holiday designs and my husband is budgeting-out the rolls. Snowmen move to the back of the line. They last through the winter, he thinks. I've got news for him. The rolls won't last through the four calling birds of the fourth day of Christmas. (We celebrate all 12 and I'll tell you about that later.) Anyway, I keep looking for holiday napkins. I'm splurging on the high-dollar stuff this season. Holly Bounty where art thou?
-- Liz Fabian

Gentle with mommy

When I got home from the hospital yesterday, we showed Daniel "mommy's owies." HE has done well - better than I have - about respecting them and being careful. I think it helps that his aunt kim is here to wrestle and play with him.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Barbie stoops to a new low

While decorating my Christmas tree, I got quite a surprise - doggie doo all over. There was some under the tree, on the floor under the table where I wrap presents and even on the table! "BARBIE! Your dog is pooping all over the house!," I should have exclaimed. Lucky for me, I'm talking about odorless tiny capsules that serve a dual-purpose in the fashion doll kingdom. Yes, moms and dads, Barbie has a dog and the dog does what dogs do-do. Lucky for the blonde babe who walks him, the package includes a pooper scooper to remove the brown ovals from the floor and put them in the doo-doo bin that funnels them right back into the "treat" box. Yes, there's a new concept of recycling at work here. Take that, Barbie's dog - "Eat treats and die." The doll and her doo-doo dog were one of Faith's favorite birthday presents. "Mommy, Barbie's dog really poops," she proudly noted. Although my 6-year-old loved it, be careful gift-buying people. Barbie is a little slack about the scooper and I'm worried about younger siblings swallowing the treats - think brown tic-tacs. They are probably too small for a choking hazard, but who wants their child eating fake doggie doo?
-- Liz Fabian

Christmas Chaos

If you haven't finished you Christmas shopping, I'm saying a little prayer for you.
I listen to my coworkers commiserate with each other about the crowds at the mall, and hear my roommate's story about finding a parking space and I am grateful I was forced to be finished early this year. Most years, if I'm not done by Thanksgiving, I finish up online.
See, every year I tend to pick a theme and everyone gets something from that company. One year, I actually wound up with a discount from because I ordered so much. This year, it was Tastefully Simple. Everyone got a gift pack or a soup and bread bag. In years past, I've done candles (PartyLite, of course), scrapbooks or photo frames with pictures, and then there was the year everyone got clothes. That way, I kind of remember what I got everyone, so when I talk to them, I can say something intelligent - like "well, there's your New Year's dinner!"
Of course, now the cat's out of the bag, I'll have to come up with a new strategy.

calling in the reinforcements

So my surgery is tomorrow, and we're all as ready as we are going to get. The house is clean, the laundry is done, there is food in the house. Daniel has been told about mommy's neck and doctors and hospitals - he even remembers the last time daddy took him to the hospital when he was sick - two years ago! And I've alerted my support system.
My mother and sister are on the road as I type. They left Virginia at some unGodly hour this a.m. Mom is amazing - I learned everything I know about cleaning and organizing from her. And Kim is a paralegal/office manager/nanny by profession. She's awesome with kids, and will some day have half a dozen to call her own. So Daniel is taken care of for at least a week. Beyond that, I've alerted my Phi Mu sisters, my coworkers, and Daniel's teachers of the proceedings.
So as I go into the operating room tomorrow, I'll at least know that my little family will be taken care of - and that's the biggest concern a mom has.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Gifts for Grands

You and I both know that Grandparents are difficult to buy for. If they want something, they go out and get it. So here are the best ideas I can offer on a Friday morning:
Family portraits. A couple of Thanksgivings ago, every member of all four generations were actually going to be present at my grandmother's for the family Thanksgiving. So I hired a photographer. $100, and he came out, spen an hour taking group shots. The whole family, each generation with Grandma, each family group. Most photographers will post their shots on a Web site and whomever wants to can order whichever shots they want. The large group shot graces Grandma's living room still.
Memory books. One of my favorite Christmas memories is the year I swiped all my mom's old family photos and put together a photo album of me and my sister from birth on. She cried...But she still has the album, and every now and again I do it again - with pictures of Daniel through the past year.
Story books. A friend of the family spends his spare time typing up his memories from childhood. He tells the stories as though he's telling them to his kids, or his kids' kids. Then he gives copies of the collection to his mom and sisters for Christmas. They look forward to it each year.
Dinner baskets. My husband's grandparents really do have everything they want, so a couple of years ago I bought a bunch of fresh fruit and made a basket out of it. This year it's Tastefully Simple soup, bread and salad dressing. I know it's not going to go to waste, and it seems better than gift cards for dinner out. Grocery stores actually sell whole dinners - turkey or ham, sides and dessert - all you have to do is pick it up.
Gifts to charity. One year I made a donation to charities that were near and dear to each set of grandparents. The charity usually will send out a card letting them know a donation was made in their name. They were tickled.
Got a better idea? Click on "comment" to share it with us!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tacky, tacky, tacky

I was happy to see this morning's edition of the Telegraph address those blow-up holiday decorations. "Tacky or Terrific?" was the headline. In my world, there's not much tackier! I mean, where did these things come from? What happened to candles in the windows, lights on the house, maybe some ornaments hanging from the blue spruce in the front yard or a star on the roof representing the star (or comet) the Wise Men followed?
I was driving around the weekend after Thanksgiving and told someone "It looks like the Christmas Spirit threw up" as I passed one yard where every plastic figure and inflatable do-dad in existence has popped up on the lawn. Think I'm exagerating? Take a drive. Make a list of the tackiest decorations you see and send it to me - or better yet, take a picture and e-mail it to the Houston Peach!

Two to one

As I read Liz's post about Faith and the glue gun, I laughed out loud. Since Daniel learned to walk we've been having those moments with him. "You did WHAT?!?!?" But that's why there are (ideally) two parents. Also why we stopped at ONE kid. Two of us, one of him, maybe we'll be able to keep up.
Some of Daniel's more memorable behind-my-back moments:
He and the little girl next door ran away together. They made it to the next street over. They were three.
He woke up at one in the morning and decided to make eggs. When I woke up, he had the frying pan out and two eggs cracked in the middle of the living room floor. He was two.
He discovered the vaseline jar and proceeded to coat himself and the floor around him. Water in the bath beaded up on the kid for a week, but he had the softest skin in the world. Photos exist of this adventure.
While getting in the car to go to school one morning, he decided he didn't want to go. He bolted under the deck and laughed like a maniac when I crawled under the house to pull him out.
Like I said, it takes both of us to keep up with this one.

Too much information, yet not enough

This is not the sentence you want to hear from a 6-year-old. "I plugged in the glue gun," Faith told her father, who was working in the yard. SHE plugged it in? How did we get to this point so fast? Now that Faith is armed with plenty of knowledge, she's dangerous. Sure it's great she's becoming self-sufficient, but there is still so much to learn. Number 1 - which her father immediately taught her the other day - she is NEVER allowed to plug in the glue gun! It's reminiscent of her impromptu haircuts, but much scarier. Hair grows back, skin grafts can leave scars. She is so misguidedly confident and sure of herself. How do I reel her in without curbing her enthusiasm?
-- Liz Fabian

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tiny tears cut to the heart

My schedule didn't allow me to attend the funeral of fallen firefighter Steven Solomon, but the front page photograph of today's Telegraph took me right there. With sunlight kissing her face, little N'Kya Solomon accepted her father's badge in her tiny hand. The little girl, who looks like she is barely three, will live the rest of her life without her daddy. The same is true for her three brothers and their mother, Kennetha Solomon, who lost her best friend. She spoke of her wonderful husband's love and support for her and the children. "I know he was tough, but that was because he loved y'all so much and he wanted y'all to grow up and be respectful people," she told the children in front of more than 1,000 people who came to honor their daddy's sacrifice. They all have my respect and I will especially pray for strength for that mother, the widow of a good man who died in service to others. Thank you to all who selflessly put themselves in harm's way for the greater good.
-- Liz Fabian

flickr flashes

Have you ever spent time on the flickr Web site? I love seeing what people put up, especially since I know a lot of photographers - both amateur and professional. Best part? it's free.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Is today Christmas Day?

Tired of answering the same question four times a day, Daniel and I made a paper chain this weekend. Every night before bed he gets to tear off a red or green strip. When he tears up the last one, the next day will be Christmas. And stop asking if it's your birthday - that's in June!

early to bed

Another side effect of Daniel's ongoing growth spurt: when he's not eating everything in sight, he's sleeping. He fell asleep right after dinner Friday, and slept until after 8 Saturday morning! Saturday night, he curled up with me on the couch at 7:30 ans we were both in bed by 8 - me with a migraine. Again no one stirred before 8:30 Sunday morning. Nice. Now I just have to hope half the stuff under the tree is new clothes!