I believe I am suffering from a bit of Post-Christmas Letdown. Luckily we have another Christmas scheduled for this upcoming weekend, so there will be further merriment to distract me from the fact that after Christmas, there is only the bleak, endless expanse of winter to look forward to, if by “look forward to” we mean “suffer through, because we do not have the funds or the work visa required to pack up our belongings and move to Maui”. So far today, I have accomplished the following: gotten out of bed, consumed two cups of coffee, turned on the TV for Ellie, attempted to cobble together some sort of lunch for her from the various sad items remaining in our cupboards, and stolen several pieces of Mike’s Christmas chocolate. In my defense, I am still recovering from the cold my body had the temerity to allow past my weak but nonetheless quite complicated system of defense, which includes Vitamin D, Cold FX, Emergen-C Immune Boost Effervescent Liquid in Juicy Orange flavour, my own personal immune system, and optimistic thoughts. As is her wont, Ellie brought this cold upon us, and as is MY wont every time I catch something from her, I marvel at how good-natured she is while sick, because she still plays and sleeps relatively well, whereas I spend all of my sick time flopping listlessly on the couch, occasionally becoming vertical in order to drive to a pharmacy to purchase more products that will inevitably do nothing to alleviate my symptoms. Our medicine cabinet, it probably goes without saying, is quite well stocked.
Yesterday I got desperate enough to google for some home remedies, figuring that even if they didn’t work, exactly, it would not truly be wasted time, at least no more wasted than if I had spent it flopped on the couch, reading about conspiracy theories on my phone. Various sites with folksy names suggested that a spoonful of honey would soothe a sore, scratchy throat, and while I can’t report that substituting irish cream fudge in place of the honey will cure what ails you, it is certainly very good for morale. I also poured some sesame oil that had been heated with mashed garlic into my ear and although it did not unplug my sinuses such that I could actually hear again, I did spend the evening smelling faintly of stir fry. The last thing I remember from yesterday was asking Mike to make me a hot toddy, after which I happened upon the pleasant realization that adding lemon, honey, and hot water can almost make whisky palatable, and adding an antihistamine will allow me to sleep through the night for the first time since Sunday. Verdict on home remedies: they are DELICIOUS.
Mike and I have a fundamental difference in our outlooks on life. He would be considered by most to be an optimist, and as someone who deals with numbers day and in and day out, he has statistics to back him up most of the time. As much as I hate this term, I suppose I would be a pessimist, although I prefer to consider myself a realist because that seems slightly less distasteful and — more to the point — more accurate. It’s not that I think bad things WILL happen to us, it is just that I realize that bad things COULD happen to us. They happen to SOMEONE and I wager that those someones aren’t particularly interested to hear that they beat the odds, so to speak. I realized last week that we’re going to have to work on our approach before Ellie gets old enough to ask tough questions about tragic events, because I don’t think that a 5-year-old will be satisfied with “Statistically speaking, that is unlikely to happen!” nor particularly comforted by “But it cooouuuuld!”
I was thinking, too, that I’m a little unsure about how we’re going to explain Christmas to Ellie once she is old enough to understand. We celebrate the religious side of Christmas in addition to the presents-trees-and-candy-canes side, and I think that the Christmas story itself is an odd one, with babies and angels and wise men and evil emperors and virgin births, and when you throw Santa and reindeer and ELVES into the mix, well, it’s all really quite ludicrous, isn’t it? That might be why I love Christmas so much, though, because it’s remarkable and magical and requires a healthy dose of imagination. I love the idea that any of it COULD happen, you know? The shepherds in the fields, visited by an army of angels, possibly thinking to themselves, “Well. This was unexpected!” Little kids going to bed, all hopped up on cookies and adrenaline, knowing Santa was going to stop by THEIR HOUSE on his improbable trip around the world. Songs with lyrics like “and the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom” only INCREASING in popularity as time passes. It’s all a little bit nuts, isn’t it? But I love it. I really do. So I’d like to wish you all a magical Christmas, if you celebrate it, and a happy day with lots of whatever you love, if you don’t.
(l-r) Good Lambie, Crappy Lambie
To the right (or directly above this paragraph if you are reading this in Google Reader) you will see a photo of two stuffed lambs. They were a gift from my parents and Ellie loves them a great deal. We call both of them Lambie (sometimes Lambie Original Recipe and Lambie version 2.0) and you will have to take my word for it because the photograph is terrible, but they are identical. They came in a two-pack from Costco and we all thought they were a brilliant choice for Ellie’s lovey because there is a backup, in case of what I am told is the inevitable but traumatic lovey loss experienced by most toddlers at some point in their lives. To prevent one from starting to look more loved (dirtier) than the other, we’ve had both in constant rotation since day one. One Lambie usually stays in the car and one stays in the house, but they’ve been swapped back and forth many times over the past few months, and bathed (and bleached) at roughly the same frequency. They are, for all intents and purposes, COMPLETELY IDENTICAL. This was a brilliant system, we told ourselves, chuckling and patting ourselves on the back. Two Lambies! We have outsmarted our child!
And yet! Over the past couple of weeks, Ellie has started to clearly prefer one over the other, to the point where she cries piteously if we try to give her what we have started calling (when we’re out of her earshot) Crappy Lambie. The only difference — and I really mean this, it is truly the only ONLY difference — between the two Lambies is that Good Lambie has an ear that looks a little … chewed. His ear fluff is a wee bit frayed. Mike thinks Good Lambie must also have some sort of ineffable Good Lambie Quality that we just can’t sense because we don’t spend 24 hours a day with him. We’ve tried to return Crappy Lambie to her good graces, hugging him and kissing him and performing elaborate skits in which we hide Good Lambie and then produce Crappy Lambie a few minutes later, joyously exclaiming, “Look who we FOUND! It’s LAMBIE! Isn’t that EXCITING?” but sadly this has accomplished nothing save for reminding Mike and I why neither of us was particularly suited for a career in the dramatic arts.
The child in question, with bonus Christmas tree background
I really wish I could somehow activate some sort of scratch ‘n’ sniff widget on my blog because you would not believe how fragrant and Christmas-y it smells where I am right now. I’m sitting in the mostly-dark in my office with laptop and our Christmas tree, which we decorated in here partially because it is the only room in our house with a big window facing the front of the house, and partially because it has doors we can close to protect the tree from grabby little hands. It’s been a nice weekend — tree decorating, lovely service at church this morning, Christmas shopping this afternoon — and I keep swinging wildly between emotional extremes, so grateful and happy for what we have, and so immeasurably sad about what happened in Connecticut on Friday. I feel like I’m sadder now than I would have been before I had Ellie in my life, and I don’t want to believe that’s true, because EVERYONE is heartbroken by this and it’s not like parents have a special claim on grief (certainly not when they’re grieving a loss that really belongs to someone else) but I think it’s maybe a case of what I saw someone post on Twitter, that I’m more aware now than I was before about how just a few years is simply not enough of a life. I don’t know. I’m probably not being very eloquent here. My reaction feels a little strange and unfamiliar to me, like it is coming not just from Lauren, but also Lauren (Who Is Someone’s Parent). I’ve cried a lot since Friday.
We had a new babysitter come over for a few hours today so we could finish up our Christmas shopping. There is nothing that makes me feel quite as much of a fraud as a new babysitter does. It always feels slightly surreal to be saying this is our house, this is my child, this is how you care for my child, here are the emergency contact numbers, here is her snack, we’ll be home by 5:00, call me if you have any questions at all. I don’t get carded at the liquor store anymore (I can’t remember the last time that happened, actually) and last week I asked our other babysitter how school was that day, which is the sort of question you only ask when you’ve been out of school for a decade or more. Then I saw what she was wearing and I ALMOST told her that I had a pair of that kind of shoes the first time they were in style (… twenty years ago) but I caught myself just in time. A few minutes ago I made an impassioned comment to Mike about an episode from the third season of The Fresh Beat Band and I feel betrayed by this whole Elmo/Kevin Clash scandal and I scoured the whole internet to find a pair of specific pajamas for Ellie for Christmas, so I’m pretty deep in the trenches here, as it were, and it’s not that I MIND feeling older, or defining myself as a parent, exactly. It’s more like this role is a new pair of jeans I’m still working on breaking in, or like I cut all my hair off and keep running my fingers through it in the shower and feeling surprised.
Forgive the radio silence, dear readers, but I am afraid I have been sick. Not just the run-of-the-mill cold-based plagues that Ellie seems to insist upon regularly bringing into our home, but rather the kind of sickness that causes you to lie on the couch moaning about the unfairness of it all while your spouse, who heroically stayed home to take care of you only to be felled HIMSELF by one of the aforementioned Ellie Plagues, brings you ginger ale and applesauce. We were supposed to head to my parents’ this weekend to celebrate my dad’s birthday, but that was rescheduled, and I had an unpleasant feeling that I had been sick last year around this time with strep throat. Through the miracle of this blog’s search feature I discovered it was actually in February that I’d had strep, which means it was my sister’s birthday that I ruined, not my dad’s, but either way I am 2/5 for family birthdays this year rescheduled on account of me being ill. One of the reasons I remember the strep incident is that — aside from the fact that I caught it at the dentist — the most infuriating thing was that I had just made it through a 15 day streak of doing the 30 Day Shred workout DVD, had finally mastered push-ups (and by “mastered” I mean I was able to do a couple of them), spent a couple of days on the couch, and then just … never went back to it. THIS week had just seen the arrival in the mail of the two new exercise DVDs I’d recently ordered, and while I’m not saying that it is clear to me that exercise is bad for your health, I’m not NOT saying that.
Instead of hanging with my family, Mike and I spent the weekend lying on the couch while Ellie charged around, doing toddler stuff and happily eating whatever we fed her, which was grilled cheese sandwiches at least 50% of the time. I highly recommend “strong ability to entertain own self” as a baby feature, and for anyone out there considering having another child, I’d strongly suggest you pay extra for the upgrade, as we did. For the most part she was very easy to parent from our sick beds, very low-maintenance, only requiring we rouse ourselves occasionally to bark commands from the couch, such as, “The chalk goes on the easel, not the wall!” and “Daisy doesn’t like it when you chase her with the doll stroller!” and “You don’t get to say ‘uh oh’ when you deliberately dumped your bowl of Cheerios on the floor! That’s not how ‘uh oh’ works!”
In related Ellie news, a few weeks ago she abruptly started calling me “Mommy” instead of “Mama”, like some sort of fully formed teenager instead of what she really is (my baaaaabyyyyyyy!). Toddlers are so rude, with their developing language skills and their learning new things and their insisting upon trying them out!