Friday, December 21, 2012

Creature Comforts

Let me start this post by first saying that I live in the city. Not like sort of in the city, but really in a nice suburb, no, I live in the city, less than a mile from the airport, the major mall & shopping center, and only a few miles from downtown. So I live smack-dab in the city, but after the events of the past couple of years, you would think I lived out in the country somewhere.

I have never had so many interactions with wildlife in my lifetime, and this is mostly thanks to our wonderful dog, Boston!

One evening we let Boston outside, and he immediately began barking furiously. He wouldn't let up, and we knew something was wrong. Tyler went out to investigate and try and convince Boston to come in when he discovered that Boston had cornered an oppossum at the back of our yard, and unlike all the stories you hear, he was not playing dead, he was reared back, fangs showing, and hissing loudly. Thankfully, we eventually got Boston inside and no one was hurt! But that wasn't the last of the oppossum interactions.

A few months ago, I had just gotten one baby down for a nap, and had another to go when Boston began his ferocious barking again. With a baby on my hip, and no shoes on my feet, I walked out back to find that Boston had once again managed to tree an oppossum. This one, however, seemed completely bored with our dog, but I was concerned in seeing a nocturnal animal out in broad daylight. So there I was trying to wrangle my 85 pound black lab and shoo away a possibly rabid oppossum with a tree branch in hand, all while barefoot with a baby on my hip. I can't even imagine what the neighbors must've been thinking, but I'm thankful they don't have video cameras or know what YouTube is!!

But that's not even the funniest creature interaction I've had. One fateful night, while Tyler was working upstairs on Ryder's nursery, I went to the backdoor to let Boston in, and had gone to sit back on the couch to rest my swollen ankles and sore back from the extra baby weight. I had just sat down when suddenly a black object came swooping around the corner, heading straight for my head! I let out a blood curdling scream that sent Tyler flying down the stairs tumbling and stumbling worried that someone was trying to kill his pregnant wife. It took me a few minutes to calm enough to get the words out, "A Bat. Just. Flew. At. My. Head!! And then it flew up the stairs, and I have no idea where it went after that!" This brought on an hour long search for the bat in our two bedroom upstairs. We let Boston help track the bat, and Tyler's weapon of choice was the broom and bag to catch it in. I heard lots of bangs and clunks and a few panicked yelps, as I sat safely on the couch below while Tyler and Boston went on the hunt in our bedroom with the door closed. Eventually, Tyler and Boston emerged triumphant with the bat in the bag. I can honestly say, I haven't opened the back door at night since then without cautiously looking around for any creatures flying in unexpected!

But if bats and oppossums aren't enough, we also have rabbits. This spring, Tyler discovered a nest of bunnies in our front yard while mowing. Ryder and I spent the next two weeks checking on them and nursing them to health. I admit that I teared up a little the day I discovered they had finally learned to jump out of the nest, and only two were left in our yard. I loved that they stayed close by and that one even made its home under our shed, that is until today...

Today, once again Boston was outside barking, I had just put my babies down for naps, so I looked out the window to see what that crazy dog was making a fuss over this time. I immediately noticed the furriness sticking out from under the shed, and my first thought was, "Oh no, not again! Please don't let it be another oppossum!" But it was too small and when I got closer to the situation, I knew with certainty that it was my baby bunny that was not so much a baby anymore and had frozen to death overnight. I called Tyler to tell him he would need to dispose of it when he got home and headed back inside hoping Boston would let it go. Unfortunately, Boston had other plans in mind and insisted on an immediate burial. He managed to drag the rabbit out from under the shed while I was inside sweeping, but had left it alone since then, I was going to let it wait for Tyler, until a hawk swooped down into our yard out of nowhere trying to snatch up my rabbit. That was the last straw, my baby bunny was not getting eaten by some crazy hawk even if it was already dead! I headed outside in the freezing, windy cold, pulled out two shovels from the shed and carefully worked to scoop up the frozen rabbit, all while squealing, shuddering, and groaning. I finally managed to get the rabbit in a box and was working my way to the trash can trying not to look at the dead creature when I happened to see it's eye wide open, I squealed and groaned again and was about to drop the box in the trashcan when I looked up to see the meter reader staring at me oddly. I sheepishly dropped the box in the trash, and began to quickly walk away as the man called out an awkward, "Merry Christmas," to me. I wanted to turn around and explain, promise him that I found the rabbit that way, and that my dog had nothing to do with its death, but instead I went inside, scrubbed my hands furiously even though I'd not come into any contact with the creature, and texted Tyler to tell him that he owed me big time!!

I love our dog, but his habit of attracting other creatures to our yard is definitely not my cup of tea! And I worry that if he can find this many animals in the city, what on earth would he discover in the country?!?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Santa Debate

Lately, I've seen quite a few Facebook posts from friends who have decided not to do Santa with their kids. Honestly, I see nothing wrong with Santa, and loved growing up with the tradition, but I'm not at all bothered by others' decisions not to do the whole Santa thing.

However, I do have a problem with the tone of some of the posts I've seen of people who have chosen not to do Santa. One said they applauded a particular celebrity for not wanting to lie to his children with the idea of Santa as his parents had done to him. Another talked about how they loved their child whether they were naughty or nice and therefore would not use Santa as a deterrent for behavior and would not be doing Santa for that reason.  I guess the issue I take with it is the undertone of criticism.

I ask the parent that says they won't lie to their child and tell them Santa is real, will you also tell them that Elmo is in fact a puppet made of fur and cloth that is essectially dead? I mean, come on, we can play pretend and make believe, and it doesn't mean we're lying, we're just playing a game, and just like games, we play along for as long as our kids want to play. My parents allowed me to believe in Santa for as long as I was willing, and I wanted to believe for a long time even though it seemed unreasonable because it was fun and magical! When I asked my mom if Santa was real, her reply was always, "It's all in what you believe," so if I wanted to believe he was real then he was. Fortunately, I had a much younger sister and got to "believe" in Santa until I was 20 years old. When my 7 year old sister became determined to figure out if he was real or not, I was a little upset with her for taking away Santa after all those years, and I even tried to convince her to keep playing along and not let mom and dad know that she knew. Of course, I knew how it worked, but it was fun! In my mind, it wasn't a lie, it was a fun game of "make believe" that I got to play along with my parents! And I can't wait to play the game again with my own children, who I hope won't read this until they're grown with children of their own, so that we can experience the magic for as long as possible.

As for the other issue another friend raised about teaching conditional love. I don't necessarily think that's the message that Santa is trying to convey. I do see her point, however, in that parents take the whole, "Santa won't bring gifts to bad girls and boys," deterent too far. But again, in my experience, the emphasis was not in the correlation between behavior and the amount of gifts I got, it was more about the fun and excitement of Santa's secrecy and surprise in what he brought, how he got it there, and when he came. I loved it!! I do see lots of people using the Elf on the Shelf toy, and I suppose that that item can also be taken to an extreme in focusing on behavior, but I think if parents can keep balance and emphasize the secrecy and surprise of finding your elf each day and the mischief they get into, then it becomes more about fun than discipline. Again, I see the point my friend was making, and I know that in some homes Santa as a discipline tool is way out of hand, and is also reinforcing the idea of conditional love, but I think that as parents we can adjust the emphasis to what works for us and our children, and possibly even teach them about unconditional love through the giving heart of Santa to any and all children and his desire to see that everyone recieves a gift, and that all children will obey and honor their parents and do what is right. To me, that is an excellent picture of Christ that might be a bit more attainable for small children and fun to experience and see lived out, but again it's all in the emphasis that parents choose.

Finally, I've also heard a lot of people say that Santa takes away from the true meaning of Christmas. Again, this can be true if Santa is all you talk about or exceeds the miraculous birth of Christ. But I don't think it has to take away from Christmas. I never felt that Santa took away from the message of Christ, I think we could've done more to intentionally focus on Christ at Christmas, but it doesn't mean that because I believe in Santa that I didn't believe in or care about Christ. It was actually quite the contrary, as a child I remember driving home from my grandmother's house Christmas Eve night and staring up at the sky searching not for Santa's sleigh, but for the Christmas Star that announced Christ's birth and led the wise men to His home. I was caught up in that part of the story more!

I don't think Santa has to overshadow Christ at Christmas, but I do think that Christ should overshadow Santa. I think there's room enough for both, and I think families can find traditions that incorporate both. But I won't judge anyone for not doing the Santa thing. However, if your child is the one that sends my child home crying because they've decided to tell my child that Santa doesn't exist, well then we might have a problem! But honestly, I don't think it makes you better or worse to include or exclude Santa in your Christmas, and I hope you can feel the same towards me. There are far more important issues to deal with in the world, and honestly, if you're judging me over Santa, then we have far bigger issues to be dealing with, like pride maybe? :)

And in case you're wondering, yes, we will be doing the Santa thing for as long as my kids will let me, because boy, have I missed him these last 8 years! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Writer's Block

It's been forever since I've written a post. I'm not sure why because I have tons of things to talk about, and lots of ideas. In fact, as I look at my entry list, I see Draft upon Draft, that are posts I began to write on things that were on my mind, but then stopped a few sentences in because the words just weren't flowing quite right, and I didn't have the time to think it through more. I don't know that it's true writer's block that I'm dealing with or maybe just a lack of motivation to sit down and write. I love writing though, and I wish I took more time to do it. Writing is cathartic for me, it's an opportunity for me to get my thoughts organized and figure out how I really feel about certain issues. But sometimes, as is the case now, my mind is so jumbled and there are so many things going on that I fear sitting down to write because I don't know where to start, go to next, or even finish a topic. I usually do well to choose a topic and let the thoughts flow through my fingers, and then I re-read, edit and organize those thoughts and "voila!" I've written something, but I can't even organize my thoughts enough to pick one topic and just stick to it.

I have an idea for a book that I've considered writing one post at a time for. I know the main point of the book, and I even have several sub-topics for chapter divisions, but I haven't made myself sit down to write anything yet. The thoughts are flowing in my mind, and daily I'm reminded of the need for a book on this subject, and yet, I still can't seem to make the time to write. But it's time. I miss writing, I miss putting thoughts down on paper, on speaking about the issues that are near and dear to my heart. Even if I'm the only one who ever reads my posts, I need to write. So I promise to make the time. I will admit that some have come to expect this blog to be a place where I udate regularly on my precious son, and I still will, but my blog is going to become something more than just a family scrapbook. Here you will also find bits and pieces of the book project I'd like to work on, as well as, some more personal journalistic writings of things I have observed and how I feel/react to them.

So here it goes, it's time to put pen to paper, or in this case fingers to keys, and start writing once again!

I'm back.... :)