December 31, 2008

Attack of the Multitudinous Toys

Hello. I do believe it's been a while since we've chatted. How are you? How's the family? Did you over-eat at Christmas dinner, too?

This last week has found me up to my elbows in train tracks, ABC magnets, puzzle pieces, and Mr. Potato Head parts. Which is to say Caleb had a very merry Christmas. =) Actually, we all did.

Here's what our livingroom looked like Christmas Eve:

A pup tent all ready for exotic adventures, a train set, and a little stuffed kitty hiding in the Christmas tree. Caleb adores kitties.

And that, friends, is the cleanest my house has been since December 25th. Because about twelve hours after these pictures were taken, the grandparents showed up. Our home has looked like a tornado-hit toy store ever since.

I really can't blame the grandparents. After all, they asked me what to get him for Christmas. They just followed my suggestions; sheesh, people really shouldn't listen to me half as much as they do. Haven't they figured out that I'm crazy?!? How else would you explain why I wanted puzzles and magnets for my son?
Small wooden pieces that get stuck under the fridge, in the laundry basket, and in the diaper pail. Should've stuck with Veggie Tales and Elmo dvds. Nice, safe, easily organized dvds.

What was I thinking?? Sheer madness, friends. I've got it bad.
Actually, I know what I was thinking. I was thinking ahead. You know, ahead to where Caleb starts learning to read and oh how fun those ABC magents will be when he starts sounding out words. Ahead. To those leisure mornings where Caleb and I do puzzles together and then, when we're finished, we sing the Clean Up song and put everything neatly away. Ahead. To where Mr. Potato Head provides not only quality toddler entertainment, but the chance to teach our son the parts of the body.
Ha ha.
I should've stopped while I was "ahead." And stuck with those DVDs.
But I'm mad, remember? Mad as Mad Martigen. As the Mad Hatter. Mad mad. Mommy mad.
That, and I'm an over-achiever. But you didn't hear that from me, ok? I like to pretend I don't have any problems or issues, and if you'll just pretend along with me, we'll all get along peachy. Ok?
Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled Caleb has new toys. We were due for an infusion. The barn set and the pretend keyboard were getting pretty boring. Now I have plenty to rotate in and out and Caleb will be busy for a while as he discovers everything his new toys can do.
I do miss our livingroom floor, however. It's kinda become a good friend, and I get a little nervous when I can't see it.

So if you don't see me for a while, I'm probably hyperventilating in the bathroom. Or, you know, trying to make organizational order from the chaos. Ooo, my home-maker senses tingle even as I write this. A challenge! Mom v. The Toys. A battle of wits to the bitter end! Who will be the victor?


Ok, that's all for now. I don't want to scare you off for good. Also, I need to take a nap and start emotionally preparing myself for Saturday. Why, you ask?

Because Saturday, dear friends, is Caleb's birthday.

December 24, 2008

A Christmas Meme Just For You

I saw this Christmas Meme ( I have no idea how to pronounce that . . . Mem? Meem? Meh-Meh?) over at Thoughts and Whatnots and decided to give it a go. I've been getting to know LeAnna over there (Hi! Hope you don't mind I stole your Meme!), and this looked like such fun. So here you go, a Merry Christmas Eve Meme from me to you. =)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper!!! Lots and lots of it, too! Bags are too easy to peek into . . .

2. Real or fake tree? I prefer real; I grew up with a real tree every year. But alas, we have a fake one. Easier to care for, not such a fire hazard, or so my husband tells me. ;) Sure miss that pine smell, though. =(

3. When do you put up a tree? Since it's fake, right after Thanksgiving . . . I guess there's something good about a plastic tree. =)

4. When do you take it down? By Valentine's Day, if I'm lucky. Kidding, kidding! I only did that one year . . . no, usually after New Years. Before, if I'm really with it. Which does happen on occasion.

5. Do you like eggnog? Bleh! Absolutely NOT! I don't eat anything with "egg" in the title, except maybe egg rolls. That goes for omlettes and quiche, too. *Makes sour face*

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Anything American Girl. From about 10-14 years old, I played with my Molly doll. =) One Christmas, I got Molly's radio and matching pajamas that my mom had made.

7. Hardest person (people) to buy for? Usually my dad.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My mom, my husband, my son . . . the list goes on.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yep. In fact, I have two. My pewter Precious Moments one sits on the window sill above the kitchen sink and my clay one from Peru is in the bathroom.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I didn't know you could email Christmas cards . . . I mail mine. Never mind they might be a bit late from year to year . . .

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A Barbie clothes set. I never had barbies growing up; course, the relative who gifted me the barbie clothes didn't know that . . . I was still bummed.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Christmas Carol, both the Muppets version and the one with George C. Scott made in the 1980s.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Depends. When I was into crafts and such, I'd start making gifts in September. If I do baking gifts, not till December. But on average? Prolly October/November. That totally didn't answer the question, did it?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No. Of course not! What sacrilege! What heresy! Now I have re-gifted a wedding present . . . but that's different. Totally.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Um, everything? All things sweet and chocolate-y and peppermint-y.

16. Lights on the tree? Wasn't aware another camp existed . . . are there really people who don't put lights on their trees? Can we say a prayer for them?? Oooo, unless they're blind . . .

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night. I like Celine Dion's version, but I've heard many other good ones.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home. With family. =)

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Probably. But I'm too lazy to list them here. I remember Dasher and Prancer and Cupid were always my favorites. (Cupid is a reindeer, right?).

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Nothing currently. Hoping to find something on sale after Christmas and put it away for next year.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas pajamas are opened Christmas Eve. Presents wait till morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The traffic! I can't go food shopping without playing bumper carts with people on every aisle. And don't even ask me about the parking lot . . .
23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? Every year we add an ornament to commemorate something important from our year. A star with two bears for the year we were married. A rocking horse picture frame for Caleb's first Christmas last year. A diploma for the year I graduated college. Etc.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and my special corn fritters. Mmmmmmm! Oh, and Mom's apple pie. Darn it! Now I'm hungry.

25. Favorite Decorations? All of 'em. =) I don't have a favorite. They come out of their special box each year after Thanksgiving and decorating is like getting reaquainted with old friends. Well, ok, I guess I especially like my two Christmas Boyd's Bears.

26. What do you want for Christmas this year? I would love a renaissance-period dress, complete with hat. Not that I dress up all that often, but hey, it's Christmas and I'm allowed to dream, right?

Merry Christmas, everyone! Now I'm off to work some Christmas magic with Jason; we have a train set to put together and a pup tent to put up. Our livingroom is going to look like a toy shop (Or Ikea . . . either way. =)

December 22, 2008

Update, Update!

Another rainy day. Wonder if it will rain on Christmas? I was going to take Caleb to the park this morning, but we had to settle for Barnes 'n Noble instead. They have a train table there in the kids section and Caleb loves moving the little engines around the track. =) He even shared with the other little kids. *Sniff, sniff* My baby's growing up!

I spent a good part of the weekend resting and getting my strength back from the episode in the hospital. That little two day adventure really took it out of me; but thank the Lord, I am feeling better. Thank you all for your prayers! I appreciated them so much!

While I seem to be out of the woods, health issues aren't over yet. I have two doctors appointments scheduled for next week, on the advice of the ER doctor who treated me. Since he couldn't pinpoint exactly what was wrong with me, he wants my family doctor to run some extra tests, bloodwork, and all that jazz.

Yippee for me. =p Better to be safe than sorry, right?

In other news, several of you have been asking me how my step-mom is doing. I am happy to report that Anne is doing well. She has one of the more curable types of leukemia (APL, I think it's called), so she is expected to make a full recovery. When she's supposed to make said recovery is still up for debate, however. The doctors hope to send her home the first week of January, but a lot depends on her white blood cell/platelet counts. These continue to fluctuate and until they stabilize, she's going no where.

I talked to Anne today and she said to tell you all thank you for your prayers. She has felt every one of them. All things considered, she's doing pretty darn good. =)

We attended our church's Living Nativity last night. So fun! The story of Christmas all brought to life with real animals and people playing the vital roles of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, and wise men. Even a Herod in a richly decorated throne room! The best part was seeing a real baby in the manger and then, further down the "tour", a little one year old boy crawling around in the hay while the wise men came and presented gifts to him. =) Seeing it really helped me remember why we celebrate and why I love this holiday so much.

December 17, 2008

So maybe I should've had a flu shot . . .

Hello friends! I'm home!!

Home, as opposed to the ER and the Hospital. Where I spent yesterday and most of today. =(

What was wrong with me? Well, the doctors still aren't real sure. Their best guess is that I had food poisoning or a nasty flu bug. Lemme tell ya, friends, I've never had anything like it before. And I really hope I never do again.

Yesterday was NOT fun. Not the being sick part and not the waiting-in-the-ER-for-three-hours-before-being-admitted-part.

But hey, this time yesterday the doctors thought I might have apendicitus (sp?) and that I would have to have surgery. Obviously, because I'm home typing this and not in a recovery room somewhere, that didn't happen. God's grace.

Then there was my "neighbor" in the ER bed next to me. We were separated by a curtain, but curtains don't exactly afford a lot of privacy, especially when it comes to overhearing doctors and nurses. After an hour, I knew he was in there for diabetes, and I'm sure he knew I was having abdominal pain. After Jason left last night to go home and sleep, my neighbor and I talked for forty-five minutes through the curtain about life, our families, our medical histories, and the weather. The nurses thought that was quite funny, the two of us having a conversation without being able to see each other.

But hey! what are you going to do when there are no rooms for you in the hospital and you can't sleep in ER because they won't turn the blaring lights off or stop pricking you for blood? Believe me, you'd start talking to curtains too! I mean, er, the people behind them . . .

Troy (my neighbor) was more of God's grace to me last night. The hospital is a pretty lonely place at 11:30 pm.

So anyway, I'd appreciate your prayers that I recover ok and that this episode isn't indicative of a deeper issue. Because, as I stated above, the doctor never really nailed down what was wrong with me. And if you think of it, pray for Mr. Troy, too. He's in pretty bad shape with his diabetes.

Thanks you guys!

December 10, 2008

We're not a bunch of Grinches . . .

Today is December 11th and already the holiday season is in full swing. Our tree is decorated, our stockings are hung, pine-scented candles burn, and even the weather seems to be cooperating. =) I've watched "White Christmas" twice and I'll be showing "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" to my ESL class later this week.

No doubt about it. No denying it. Christmas is here.

And while I enjoy everything this season has to offer, I love it for one more reason. It is the season of giving.

I love to give. When I was ten (and making all my Christmas gifts by hand), I planned to give four gifts each to my mom, dad, grandparents, and best friend. I have the old secret Christmas notebook to prove it. Four gifts each, proving that a) I am an over-achiever, and b) I seriously love to give.

Think I outgrew that trait? Ha. Just ask Jason. He'll tell you I'm still an over-achiever. =)

And I still love giving. It's one of my spiritual gifts. And I have a spiritual-gifts-multiple-choice-test-paper-thingy from church proving that, as well. =) I'm bona fide.

I'm also addicted. Whether I'm mailing money to feed hungry children or making free glyphs for our guildies in WoW, I get this tingling-y happy feeling from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Every. Single. Time. Better than caffeine.

Good thing I married Jason, or else I'd be broke right about now. Jason does not have the gift of giving. That's not to say he doesn't enjoy gift-giving. He does. Just not to the same break-out-and-start-dancing-in-the-rain-while-singing-at-the-top-of-your-voice way that I do. Which is good. He brings balance; he also makes sure we still have money for things like food and rent and all that.

So with all the joy to the world flitting about our home this Christmas season, you might be surprised to hear that we aren't giving gifts this Christmas. Not to our family and not to each other.

Gasp! Shock! What the . . . !

Now before you write me off, or stop reading, or hurriedly cover your children's eyes for fear of what they might see, let me explain: this is all God's fault.

The Lord has been doing a work in my heart. A work that started last Christmas and has been quietly, unobtrusively going on for the past twelve months. Last Christmas, we had no money. Literally. We had enough, praise God, for the important needs, but no more. We told our family not expect presents. I think we scrapped enough money together to get our son one small thing. That was all.

And oh! how I struggled. How could you have Christmas without presents? Would the holiday even come if you had nothing under your tree? I felt poor. I felt humiliated. I certainly didn't feel very Christmas-y.

Then a strange thing happened. December 25th arrived. And like the Grinch observed: "It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. I puzzled three hours, till my puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch, er, I thought of something I hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," I thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Christmas 2007 wasn't ruined as I had feared. We had a wonderful day, full of family and good food and a little boy who thought the wrapping paper and bows were the best part of the gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. =) The day was still beautiful and special.

Fast forward twelve months. This year we have more money. We have money to buy presents, anyway. But when I sat down to start my gift list last month, something stopped me.

Maybe it was the realization that our pantry is full of food and our closets are full of clothes. Maybe it was the realization that all our needs are met every month, and many of our wants are, too.
Maybe it was the thought that the friends and family I planned to buy presents for were in the same boat: all needs and many wants already met.

Maybe it was God who brought all these things to my mind.

Suddenly, the idea of lavishing more stuff on those who really didn't need it felt shallow somehow. Why do we give gifts after all? Well, because it's tradition. And as I so foolishly believed last year, you can't have Christmas without presents. Right?

I'm not so sure about that anymore. So this year, we Neuhausers are trying something new. We are spending our Christmas money on items from this catalog and we've asked our family to do the same.

Now if I were a super-spiritual type person, I'd have three Bible verses listed here on how Jesus told us to help the poor and why giving is so godly at Christmas time. Heck, maybe I'd even use the Three Wise Men as an example, just for good show. But I'm not super-spiritual, and I'm NOT going to tell you that you should be doing what we're doing.

Simply put, our family is thankful to Jesus that He so faithfully and abundantly provides for us. We want our Christmas gifts to make a difference to the people who receive them. I'm not writing this so that you guys will think "Wow! How philanthropic those Neuhausers are! How sacrificial! How godly!" Absolutely not. And before you get any other weird ideas, yes, we are still planning one or two surprises for our son to find under the tree. We didn't go off the deep end completely. =) I just wanted to share with you what the Lord has shared with me; it's been a hard lesson, but you know what? My enjoyment of the holiday season hasn't diminished at all.

And with a Christmas party next week, my last night of teaching tonight, and Christmas Eve approaching, I still have plenty of opportunities to scratch my gift-giving itch. Granted, most of the giving will involve food, time, and energy, but that's ok with me. =)

Merry Christmas, ya'll!

December 5, 2008

V is for Vendetta and F is for Fugue

Last night, our home fellowship attended PLNU's annual Cider Celebration. The Cider Celebration has become a tradition for Jason and I; we were at Point Loma for the very first celebration six years ago; we had just started dating "officially" and Jay came down to visit me before finals. I knew friends in the choir, and hey! cider's always good, right? So we went.

And we've gone every year since (except for last year).

Beautiful music, silly campus campy-ness, snow machines, hot cider, dancing reindeer, what's not to love?

One thing comes to mind: Bach.

As in the composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Never before has Bach invaded our dearly beloved Cider Celebration. Tchaikovsky and Brahms, yes. Bach, no. But last night, he showed up.

Oh the Horror!

See, I have a long-standing grudge against Mr. Bach. I hate his fugues. I used to play piano, back in high school, and for my senior recital, I decided to play his Fugue in C Minor. Don't ask me why. I'd heard the first few bars in an old Amy Grant song; like the sadly naieve person I can sometimes be, I thought to myself "Awww, how pretty! I should play that!"


I spent the next six months practicing that dumb fugue. Minor keys are difficult to begin with, but I personally believe Bach was insane when he wrote this. Most of the great composers were. In addition to the minor key, Fugue in C Minor is supposed to be played allegretto or fast. But no matter how hard I practiced, Bach continued to beat me. My fingers flew, but they never landed quite right on the keys, or quite fast enough. I loved playing (and still do), but that music made me wonder why I'd ever started piano in the first place. I cried many tears during those six months.

On recital day, with all kinds of encouragement from my piano teacher and my family, I sat down and played that Fugue.

And lost track of a few bars. Forgot where my fingers were supposed to be. Rushed the ending.

And I've hated Bach ever since.

So when the choir sang another of his great works last night, I set my jaw and wrinkled my nose and endured it. (Incidentally, the song they sang didn't make much sense, either, so now I'm wondering if Bach was ever in his right mind).

After the concert, as we stood around talking, I declared to Allyl how much I detested Mr. B. She stared at me in shock, herself having played flute in high school, and asked me why.

Well, now you know. ;)

Wishing you a very Merry and Bach-free Christmas this year, friends. :)

December 3, 2008

An Addendum to the Post Below (the one with singing elves)

As evidenced by my earlier elfy post, both Caleb and I needed naps today. Neither one of us got one, however, and the inordinate amount of silliness resulting from said lack of sleep couldn't help spilling over into BloggieWorld.

Hence, the dancing Neuhauser elves. =)

Jason only had a small heart attack when he saw it. =) =)

(I defended myself by telling him that the dancing and music kept our cranky, sleep-deprived son from crying . . . a good enough excuse in any parent's book).

Now it's much later, and Caleb is sleeping. Finally. =) But, quite obviously, I am not.

Tonight was my first night back at work in over two weeks. I was greeted by Roy, who wanted Spanish lessons (go figure!), Annie who sings while she writes, Kaitlyn who continually bugs me for pictures of Caleb, Green who likes to pronounce "covet" with the stress on the second syllable, and Ryan who decided Ratatouille was the movie we should watch Friday night.

Just a typical night for me. =) It's good to be back.

I apologize I haven't been on Blogger much lately. My muse has gone missing and I hesitate to write without it. You wouldn't like my un-inspired posts, methinks. Methinks you might just go running for the hills and erase every trace of this website from your hardrive.

But fret not, friends. My muse never goes missing for long. I'll find it one day when I'm not looking, next to the bananas or under a pile of bills. You'll be the first to know when it returns, ok? Promise.

What I Do When My Son Won't Nap

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