Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some People Just Don't Care for Sugarplums

My statute of limitations on blogs is about a week....if I haven't blogged it in a week, I probably won't. This is my Christmas Eve Blog one week later. We really did have a nice Christmas Eve in spite of myself . Corey was supposed to work all day, but was sent home at noon because of all the snow......ALL THIS SNOW...stay focused Vanessa....I will save my snow blog for another day.  Anyway, back to Christmas Eve.  Corey knows that I get grumpy if I don't exercise and wisely immediately sent me out snowshoeing. While on my trudge through the snow (I gave up on the snowshoes because they just sink in this genre of snow), I created my own visions of how the rest of the day would transpire. It went kinda like this: 

' I will return home refreshed and exhilarated.  The entire family will float to the kitchen to contribute to the preparing of their favorite dishes for Christmas Eve dinner, while listening and humming along to Handel's Messiah. Perhaps some cartoon song birds will fly on the windowsill and accompany the music or help put the linens on the table. As darkness falls and with only the light of the candles, we will simultaneously sit down together for our Christmas Eve meal....conversing about the magic of Christmas, the happiness we are experiencing just being together, etc. etc. You get the picture. After dinner is done (the birds will clean this up, of course) we will settle down for our Christmas Eve program which will consist of singing our favorite carols, reverently reading from Luke 2, and discussing the overwhelmingly convincing conclusion that giving is far superior to receiving. This will continue for several hours at least. With the first sign of a yawn, the family gifts will be opened and quickly donning the new Christmas Eve pajamas, the children will giggle, lay out their stockings and scuttle of to bed for their own dancing visions of sugarplums.'

It really went like this. I was exhausted after my hike through the snow. Only Corey helped me make dinner. The kids groaned when I put on the Messiah and no helpful birds made an appearance. Ansel played with the candles, the shrimp was rotten, and the meal was over in 12.4 minutes. Our Christmas Eve program consisted only of me and Ansel singing carols with the rest of the family covering their ears.

Music was such a huge part of my Christmas Eve growing up that I am sure my 'celebratory' aggression has traumatized my children a bit. I imagine I must seem like the Wicked Witch of Wenceslas, threatening to eat my children if they don't sing 'Silent Night'. I remembered this year and will probably have to reremember next year that I can't force my visions and personal magic of Christmas down my children's vocal chords. It is my personal magic and I should savor it and then savor the magic that the children are creating on their own...sans maternal intervention. I think traditions are important and see the excitement of some of these traditions in their little faces. The problem arose when I tried to suffocate them with a tradition that they just don't want right now. Trying to squeeze my evening into a tailored gown is a sure way of ending up depressed. Corey does a superb job of letting the kids be who they are. He tries to keep me grounded in that way.

I'm speculating that Mary had envisioned the circumstances surrounding the birth of her son a little differently. There must have been a point of letting go...of submitting to faith . A point when she decided to go with the flow, knowing that she was a witness to a gift of love and  a humble observor to the miracles that were taking place around her.

We open our family gifts on Christmas Eve. The kids had each thought about and purchased a gift for each member of the family. This is so much better than Christmas for me because I love observing the happy anticipatory face of the giver as the receiver opens his or her gift. I was a witness to miracles that were taking place around me and all I had to do was sit there and watch.

Savanna gave Ansel a Lego jet plane. I think he liked it.

Emmy gave Ansel a much desired Doodle Pro. They played with it together for an hour that night

Ansel, the victim of commercialization, was convinced that I needed and wanted to the "Ove" Glove. I think he truly believes that I will no longer burn the cookies. He was so excited about his gift that I really did need and want the now named "Love" Glove.

The day after the girls both put Gel Pens on their Christmas list, Ansel made me take him to the store to get them. They were the first gifts under the tree.

Ansel gave Corey some die-cast cars that they have been collecting. Corey is truly as excited as he looks.

Emmy picked a Barbie for Savanna.

Savanna chose a webkinz bear for Emmy. She knows her well.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Dog Ate my Holiday Letter

I sent out Christmas cards this year. I promise. In fact, I made two batches.  I know that many of you received the first successful launch of Christmas cards and can vouch for me. I also know that some of you or many of you didn't get the dud batch.  This totally sounds like some lame excuse a student would throw at a teacher when he or she didn't complete an assignment, right? So this is what happened. I completed a stack of cards and then ran out of envelopes. My second batch of envelopes (bartered with cash at World Market, by the way, and may have been crafted by Marco Polo himself...I'm trying to remain positive about my purchase) were, I believe, made out of gold wax paper and were obviously not Marketable in any World that I know of.  Only 2 have been positively identified as reaching their destination. 
First of all, these wax paper envelopes would not accept ink of any kind.  Being a problem solver and ardent homework finisher, I made sticky labels and addressed them.  And sent them....yes, WITH those of you who are 'in the know' of my spurts of "puffy brain".  Everything seemed to be going according to plan.  But then, the next day, some of these golden envelopes reappeared in my mailbox because my homemade address labels had peeled off, having fallen victim either to the slippery make of the envelope, the sneaky clutches of a label thief, or from the frigid electron rejecting below freezing temperatures.   The next time I successfully pried open our frozen mailbox, two more had been rejected because the stamp had escaped or had been stolen...desperate times may call for stamp stealing  (yes, you could see the mark of the stamp....oh, ye of little faith in me).  Obviously, I didn't receive any that had our return address labels peeled off. These were made by the World Wildlife Foundation and I think these devoted heroes and heroines are serious and efficient about saving the animals because these labels STUCK......earning another donation this year. However, if anyone spies any unmarked gold envelopes creeping around their neighborhood,  you can guess from whence they most likely did originate. But don't touch it... and notify the authorities....just in case.  I just don't trust those gold mysterious envelopes.

This all wouldn't be that big of a deal if we hadn't been snorkeling through the snow the past week. Getting to the mailbox down our road was a major accomplishment. Excuses Excuses. So I can open them and find out who didn't get them and resend them. But until then, we are going out of town tomorrow and I don't have any functional shouldn't take that much for an envelope to be functional, should it? Sheesh

I just want those of you who didn't receive their cards to know that we thought of you and are still thinking of you. I have heard that some fellow humans despise 'happy perfect' family holiday cards and some even go so far as ridiculing them in public.  I am not sure if I have any closeted "holiday letter hater" friends and family.   I personally love receiving them, even if they are people I don't know all that well. So, for those of you who defied the odds of the gold envelope and DID  receive your cards and letters, Redirect your Blogging elsewhere. For those of you who HATE holiday cards and letters and were fortunate enough not to receive ours, smile at your narrow escape and go on your merry way. For those of you who do enjoy our holiday letters and DIDN'T receive yours, linger a little longer.  And for the record, we are Happy some of the time, Sad some of the time, Angry some of the time, Hungry all the time, and Perfect none of the time.  

Judd Family 2008
Proposed House Legislation That Has Absolutely No Chance of Passing

I. PROPOSITION 125 authored by Corey Judd (old)

Proposal to limit stuffed animals in the house to 125. This equates to approximately 41.333 stuffed animals per child. Any additional fake animals found on the premises will be considered a threat to family space and consequentially confiscated. Any family member who feels the overwhelming inclination to acquire another stuffed animal is urged to step outside the premises and play with the REAL animals (i.e. deer, frogs, coyotes, bark beetles, chipmunks, ticks, porcupines, and the left and right winged owls.) that frequent our 10 acres. Their will be no limits, however, on biking gear or ski paraphernalia.

Opposition submitted by Savanna: We would not need so many stuffed animals if Founding Parents would only allow us ownership of even one furry pet. Furthermore, there is convincing evidence that if Founding Father would just strap a stuffed animal to his handlebars while riding to work, he would be just as enamored with it as we are.


Chocolate is a blatant attack on personal happiness and well-being. Members shall not attend preschool if chocolate is going to be served as a snack. Constituents are free to spit out any chocolate accidentally ingested at any time and in any location. In 1982, only 10% of Halloween Candy consisted of chocolate. Today, the percentage has risen to 86%. This is an alarming statistic. If the distribution of chocolate is not curbed and eschewed, chocolate will be widely accepted as a breakfast entrée and the next thing you know, we will be kicking balls of chocolate in soccer classes.

Opposition submitted by Vanessa: You can never have too much chocolate and I already accept it as a breakfast entrée.

III. REFERENDUM ROTE GRINDWORK authored by Savanna Judd (almost 11)

The existing legislation in place that requires residing students to complete homework in a timely manner shall be overturned and amended to state that homework is OPTIONAL IF residing student is writing a medieval novel. Residing students lose precious writing time at piano lessons, Spanish class, swimming lessons and other various mandatory family outings. School work that is returned with LATE marks shall be overlooked and/or praised for being completed.

Opposition submitted by Corey: Lateness will never be accepted. In fact, I am working on submitting legislation that will require schoolwork to be completed before it is even handed out.

IV. PLEBISCITE INCOGREADO authored by Emmy (almost 9)

Passage of this would make it perfectly acceptable to hide in the corner of bedrooms whilst reading. This law will also allow for unlimited nonresponse to any solicitations or requests for revealing one’s location. Reading a book shall be an activity that is equated with not actually being present in the home.

Opposition submitted by Ansel: The Drafters and Framers of our new home included more than enough living space. There is no reason to be smashing oneself in crevices. We should be running freely through the home, jumping on beds, and sliding down banisters.

V. BALLOT MEASURE 12-1 authored by Vanessa (older)

It is the intent of the Founding Mother of this Union to uphold Freedom of Expression through the medium of SONG. This right has been thwarted, booed, and even forcibly squelched by little hands over mouth. The ratio of time spent chauffeuring, cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, helping with homework, packing lunches, nagging, etc. to time allotted for ditty singing shall be 12 to 1. For example, for every hour of nurturing and protecting, Founding mother is granted 5 minutes of uncensored harmonics.

Opposition submitted by Emmy: This ballot question would be considered if Founding Mother could sing the correct words to even one song.

Love the Judd Family

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy 9th Birthday Emmy!!!

 Emerson Asher entered this world less than a fortnight before the new millennium, or as most of us remember it, Y2K.   There were constant mumblings that there would be universal chaos , the global economic infrastructure would collapse, and that possibly the entire world would go dark at midnight on January 1, 2000.  Some apocalyptic wishful thinkers even speculated the end of the world.  Committees were formed and people were scrambling to prepare themselves for what was to come.   It wasn't until the safe passing of the main event itself, January 1, 2000, that public fears were fully quelled and  our hope in the stability of the world was reinforced. My hope for peace and light in the world was reinforced 13 days earlier, on December 18th, 1999.  A new being has a way of doing that.  

Prior to Emmy's birth, I, too infrequently, experienced several paradigm refining moments in which my ambitions and intentions were all inclusively decontaminated by the reminder than I am part of something much bigger than myself...something that knows I am capable of giving more.  I usually received this cathartic purification on the trail of a solitary hike, during an inspiring conversation,  or while reading a soul-evolutary passage in a book.  These moments resulted in wide awake late nights not poisoned by the typical guilt and fear, but by the eager anticipation of starting the next day a new and better person.  

There is something about Emmy that invokes this feeling on a regular basis.  Even as a baby, people would identify something wise and peaceful in her nature.  Just being near her makes me want to be a better person. 

Admittedly, I still have days when my desire to hide from the world overtakes my ambition to help make it a livable and lovable place for my children...when I am brimming with pessimism and question my reckless behavior in bringing these children into this troubled world. But it is more often that I recognize that it is my children that have truly brought me into the world they see.....a world full of hope, mercy, potential and simple wishes

So on this day, I wish to celebrate Emmy with my traditional birthday list of facts:

1.I had a crazy Bolivian doula for Emmy's natural birth.  She made me color a birthing ball and got mad when I wasn't coloring with enough enthusiasm.  
2. We were moved onto a separate floor in the hospital because of all the millennium babies being born (we promise, we were not birthing a child at this time for all the prizes)
3.  Corey had finished his finals and his mother had flown into town the same moments I started labor.  What a convenient baby...other than the middle of the night stop and go labor. 
4. weighed exactly 8 pounds 
5.  We had her name picked when I was pregnant, but didn't know I was pregnant.
6.  Slept for 20 hours a opposed to Savanna's crying 20 hours a day
7.  Landed a paying modeling job for Cracker Barrel at 6 months.  

8. Was a lady bug for her first Halloween
9.  Let Savanna poke and prod her all she wanted
10. Started walking at 10 months

1 year 
11. Got 4 shots and a fever on her first birthday.  What was I thinking?
12. Emmy fell asleep in her food all the time
13. Was the messiest eater ever
14.  Has dreams about eating and grabs at the air
15.  Her nickname is Boofus

16. Emmy loved to dress up.  She must have been completely saturated, because now she hates to wear even a skirt or jeans.....prefers sweat pants every day.
17. The word "danny" was used in every situation that requires any emotion.  If she is scared, she says, "DANNY" and if she is excited she says ,"DANNY"  It is a word we heard a lot of.  In fact, we started saying it as well.
18. moved from St. Louis to Spokane
19. won't go to sleep unless I am holding her hand
20.  let's Savanna talk her into making huge messes

2 years
21. Becomes pathologically attached to a water balloon
22. Was a rabbit for her 2nd Halloween
23. Will eat a whole can of black beans for breakfast
24. Loves beans, cheese, mango, rice, meatloaf, pizza, artichokes, popcorn and carrots
25. Does not like potatoes, orange juice, cereal, asparagus
26. She is hungry all the time
27.  Particularly loves her Dad, Uncles, and Grandpas
28.  added a crayon to the Soup while I was making dinner because she wanted it to be pink
29.  falls off picnic table benches constantly
30. used to love to sing and dance...but now she hates it

3 yrs old
30. Received a thorough haircut from Savanna during dinner.  All she had to say about it was, "my dinner is ruined."  We turned it into a darling pixie cut and so she...
31.was Tinkerbell for her 3rd Halloween
32. Had a popcorn kernel stuck in her nose for 6 weeks
33. took ice skating lessons
34. loves to climb trees
35. I used an explicative when I burned my hand while making dinner.  Emmy asked "Is that the   Spanish word for BURN?"
36. looks for fairies wherever we go

37. Went through a huge Peter Pan phase and was obsessed with pixie dust
38. Goes to Disney land
39.  asks if she will be "Emmy Incorporated" after she gets married
40.  Prays for the fairies to be safe

4 years
41. Wonders, "Do Barbies speak Chinese because they were make in China?"
42. Exclaims sadly, "I don't like Ansel because he is too breakable"
43. Says on her 4th birthday, "Remember that I am the birthday girl and I rule the day?"
44. Trips on the sidewalk and breaks her arm
45. Tasted her first alcoholic beverage at 4 yrs old (unintentionally, of course)
46. Went Trick-or-Treating with some neighbor girls a month BEFORE Halloween and came home with plenty of candy.
47.  called 911 for no reason
48. Has hyper mobility (the real term for being double jointed)
49.  Asked me one day, "Mom, do you feel empty inside?"
50.  Will always let the other person win 

50. Emmy has a lot of headaches this year and has an MRI
51. took a climbing class and became a real spider monkey
52. played on a soccer team and never won a game...but had a lot of fun
53. drew a million fairies 
54. took a ballet class and hated it
55. saved all of her allowance for hungry children 
56. was an angel for her 5th Halloween
57. went to speech therapy and finished in record time

58. Emmy started skiing this year and picked it up without hesitation
59. Emmy is very fidgety.  I wonder where she got this from?
60.  loves squishy things

1st grade

61. was a dragon for her 6th Halloween
62. drew a million bees in 1st grade and made a few into stories

63. Emmy is very adventurous and will try anything new.
64. She fails to recognize her "dizzy" limits and has thrown up on several occasions.

65. Emmy loves to Run and MOVE
66. Set her Pogo sticking record at 2000 in a row
67. She Also loves to Read Quietly for hours
68. Wrote this poem that received school-wide recognition

Dark liquid
Hardly looks like water
Full Of unknown creatures
What forgotten treasures lay down there?
The sand dances with the tide
To the shore
Revealing the secrets of the shells
Beneath the sea
69. Made a book of poetry
70. She jump ropes in the house and the neighbor is annoyed
71. Emmy hates to get in trouble
72. Emmy is always the first one asleep and the first one awake
73. Likes me to create 'Harry Potter teams up with Shaggy and Scooby'  stories to pass the time while hiking
74. Will cross any downed matter how high or dangerous

2nd grade
75. was a fairy for her 7th Halloween
76. she HATES putting anything in her hair
77. Had a pet jelly fish for a week
78. She does not like to be called Emerson....maybe someday. 
79. She gets some pretty brutal spontaneous bloody noses
80. Has true empathy and puts other's happiness before her own
81. had a pet goldfish for one day
82. wants to be where Savanna is almost all the time....I'm hoping this lasts through the teen-aged years.
83. Says she wants to be a teacher 

3rd grade
84. was a black cat for her 8th Halloween
85. She is very organized and takes care of her things...always has the cleanest room.
86. She NEEDS her stuffed bunny to fall asleep and watch scary movies
87. She takes school very seriously 
88. Learned to cross-stitch and makes her own patterns
89. Doesn't love to talk to adults or talk on the phone
90. She is VERY picky about her shirts.  The collars have to be just right and no itchy TAGS

I love you, Emmy

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tired of being "Tired" : Countdown to my Breakdown

Thursday, December 11
A storm is coming. Our tires our balding and we have an long incline, decline and incline to get the girls to school. We need snow tires for educational purposes. Corey calls on Wednesday to reserve some tires. The employees graciously invite us to stop by 'anytime' to have them installed. I drop the girls off at school and head directly to Les Schwab. I handover my keys and they inform me that due to the coming storm, there is a bit of a backup. It may take 2 hours. I can handle a few hours. I came prepared with notebook, a book, and Nintendo DS. Ansel spends the first hour on the DS and I spend it reading. This will be delightful.

Ansel wants some of the free 'all you can eat' bio hazardous popcorn that is so generously offered. I shovel some in a bag and eat most of it. Ansel gets mad and I have to get him HIS OWN bag. I watch some of THE VIEW (it is so loud, I really can't help it) and get really annoyed at the women interrupting each other constantly. Good thing Whoopi is there to mediate or they would probably be pulling each other's hair. Ansel interrupts by pulling the lever on the water cooler without putting a cup underneath.

I have to get out of here. They aren't even close to getting to our car. We walk out into the fog and cross the street to the second hand book store. Ansel pulls out the books he wants me to read....Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, and Scooby Doo....Really Ansel? I am so disappointed in his selection. I love reading to my children UNLESS I am reading the mind-numbing script from a television episode.

I am expecting Les to call any minute and have my phone close by. Our next stop is the coffee shop where Ansel and I get some hot chocolate and a muffin. There is a cozy fire, a box of toys, and today's newspaper. OK. Maybe I will find some redemption in this little slice of heaven.
We do have a nice hour despite the background Pop star desecration of timeless Christmas Carols.

Convinced that they have the wrong cell phone number and that our van is ready and waiting, I decide to go back to Tire Headquarters. A feeling of Doom sets in when I see the same people waiting in the 5 ft by 5 ft waiting area. I call Corey and try to blame all of this on him. It is a short conversation. I have a long conversation with an older gentleman about all the artwork that he completed as a young boy while Ansel draws the ABC....ELLEMENOP's in his notebook and Sings the ALPHABET song very loudly. I eat more popcorn.

There is a posted sign saying, "Please do not ask us when your car will be done. The time we quoted you when you arrived is an "estimate" and the waiting period may exceed our quote." What a lame disclaimer. Their "estimate" has now been exceeded by 3 hours. I have gain a little control over the situation ignore their little sign. With complete composure, I let them know that I will have to pick my girls up from school and that if I knew that is was going to take this long, I would have arranged a ride. They shrug their shoulders and hand Ansel a box of crayons. This keeps him happy for about 3 minutes. Several people come in to complain about snow tires that were installed improperly the day before. I have to get out of here. We walk to "Zips," a local fast food restaurant, and order a kids meal. Ansel eats the hamburger and I eat the fries. My internal organs are about to slip out from all the grease I have ingested today.

We return again to headquarters and find that our car is in the dock. They are removing the old tires. I need to pick the girls up from school in 1/2 hour (luckily, they had Spanish class giving us an extra hour). Maybe I will make it. The employees disappear. There are no tires on my car. It is getting dark. I picture the girls vulnerably waiting for me in the foggy darkness. I try to call the school secretary. No answer. Nobody is working on the car. I suppose they decided to take a break or maybe they are bored of the monotony of replacing tire after tire after tire and want to find out what the crazy blond lady is going to do. I get a hold of a friend who can drive over to the school and retrieve the girls. I know they will be disappointed because I promised them I would take them to the last day of the book fair which closes as 5 pm. I, unlike the people at Les Dweeb, take my promises seriously. Oprah is interviewing Sarah Jessica Parker, who is wearing some hideous shoes, about her upcoming Sex in the City movie. It is a repeat so no one will mind when I turn it off. It become eerily quiet.

Someone is finally putting the tires on my slow motion. Ansel starts to cry . He wants to go home. I start to cry. I want to go home too. I am humiliated that I am crying. I never cry in public. I can't help it. What a stupid thing to cry about. I am sure it is all the supernaturally yellow popcorn that is making me cry. The older employee who gave Ansel the crayons steps over and says, 'Lets get you out of here'. He goes out to the dock and whispers in the installers ears. They move a little faster. Sometimes it pays to be crazy. I should have started crying hours ago.
This better be one big snow storm.

POST-BREAKDOWN It snows one measly inch. Not even enough to make a snowball.

Because this post is so grinchy, I will end on a positive note with a cell-phone snapshot of a spectacular sunset that we witnessed on the way home from school last week.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stopping by Woods on A Not So Snowy Afternoon

There is no snow at our house.  We have been waiting ever so impatiently.  Corey bought his ski pass in July and Savanna can ski for free this year as a 5th grader.  We have our massive snow blower eagerly waiting to be broken in.   My first vision of our new home included backdoor walks through the snowy woods.  Is it too early to be freaking out?  Probably, but I have a hard time putting a reign on my "freak out" sleigh.   Since the snow hasn't come to us, we decided to go to the snow.  It wasn't until we reached the tippy top of Mt. Spokane that we even found a trace of the dope.  

What we really found was a thick layer of ice covered by a thin layer of snow.  It was still really pretty.

Corey looks for the best route

The girls trust his judgement and follow him


Ansel loves the slipping and sliding........until the last half hour.

Emmy can't get enough of it. 

Corey starts a snowball fight.

You don't want to start a snowball fight with Savanna.  

Ansel creates his own snowstorm......

and then eats his own snowstorm

Emmy cuts out the middle man

Time for some posing.

It was a fun afternoon.  Playing in the snow for the first time each season is always a wickedly epic experience filled with a renewed awe for the awesomeness that is snow (Geez, Im yappin like a snowboarder).  It is also a tear-jerking reminder of how fast my children are growing.  I pulled out the bag of gloves and snow pants and froze at the sight of the tiny gloves in which Ansel comfortably nestled his fingers just last year.  They looked like doll gloves.  I took a big heart-wrenching gulp and kept digging for something that would work.  Savanna had to wear my boots with high-water pants.  I guess we are not quite ready for snow.