Saturday, December 22, 2012

An Elf of a Time

Well, as is our annual tradition, I have fallen far behind on the Harold Hubert Piggybottom posts. It wasn't a very elftastic week in general though.

So, here we go:

The morning after Harold arrived, we found him resting in the nativity:

He was snuggling the baby Jesus, and he had a tiny traveling trunk with him! We opened it, because we didn't think he would mind.

It contained a tank top, a tiny rubber credit card, and a little envelope full of little pictures! I was amazed by the photos. The boys gave them a cursory glance. little kid was more interested in the logistics of using the credit card.

The next day we found him enjoying the Florida experience. And wasting food. He was wearing a straw fedora, glasses, jean shorts and the tank top, and floating in a pool of marshmallows on top of a bagel.

Big Kid was annoyed because that's his reading lamp. little kid was interested in the pool, which even had a drain. little kid was also disappointed by the lack of naughtiness.

The next morning was quite a surprise:

 The tree was surrounded with fluffy stuff!

The cat appreciated this the most. Big Kid said maybe he should just sit on a shelf from now on, and I agreed.

 The next morning he was on the shelf, but he replaced all of our family photos with Zoolander-like photos of himself. Weirdo. Big Kid wants me to replace the family photos pronto. I still haven't done it, and it is rather creepy.

Banksy Harold:

Then Harold tagged the sliding glass doors with snow spray. Not cool because that's my most hated chore, as you can see by the flash reflecting off of the streaks on the glass. Then I decided to be fun mom and let the kids spray the windows with the leftover spray, which was a gigantic mess. little kid miraculously managed to make snow balls with an aerosol spray--Florida kids will go to great lengths.

Big Kid refused to do it at first and I asked why.

"If I graffiti something, it's going to be for real," rule-abiding, property-respecting Big Kid said with a sudden burst of assertiveness.

"What?" I asked, incredulous.

"You know...with spray paint?"

"What are you talking about, Big Kid? You'd be in so much trouble. You could go to jail!"

He looked slightly serious then, like he hadn't realized it was such a big offense. Then he shrugged it off. "Well...I still might do it."

"Uh, no, you wouldn't," I assured him.

What is this? I laugh out loud to imagine sweet Big Kid, who literally cannot tell a lie (boy's got no poker face) spraying gang signs somewhere, but am also fearing for whatever kind of nonsense the next phase of life may bring. So...maybe elf graffiti wasn't the best idea. I guess. Thanks, Harold.

But the next day he brought Coca-cola, which is my favorite. He was even drinking his own itty bitty coke, much to little kid's amazement. We were slightly worried if caffeine was counted in the energy drink warning we received from the North Pole, but the can appeared empty, so what could we do?

Croquet Harold:

This was very cute and not messy. little kid hopes we get to keep his croquet set. I am glad Harold has calmed down.

Then he grew a mustache and brought mustache glasses and chocolate milk straws! He also attached vinyl mustaches to various photos:

 I thought it was funny.

The next day he brought Santa's Coal bubble gum, which really tasted like coal, according to little kid. Not sure when little kid has eaten coal, but I believe him.

Then we found him in front of the computer the next morning, watching video reports from Santa for both boys. He had a small notebook and he had written both their names with "Nice!" next to them, which was a big relief around here. People admitted to being slightly worried about yesterday's coal gum. He had also written "Redbull- Naughty!" so we think he learned his lesson.

This morning we found him under the tree with a book of Christmas stories and two tiny Christmas books of his own. Everyone appreciates books around here, and they were grateful to get a new one. I am grateful that all is calm on the elf front and am glad it's a shorter visit this year.

Phew, I am also glad to be caught up on that! This may be a record in falling behind.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All the Small Things

Short sad break

Dear Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse,
Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison, and James:

It feels wrong to move on with the lighthearted story of my life without acknowledging your precious and all too brief existences. Most news stories are just that, news stories, a mostly unwelcome distraction from our day but your stories have changed me. I am not able to not think of you, and am having great difficulty picking up and moving on from the terrible thing that happened on 12/14/12. I don't know if it's because I have a child your age and realize the eternal silence that would haunt me in his absence, or if it's because I spend a lot of time with first graders and can picture your wide set eyes, lightly freckled noses, Twinkle Toe shoes, twirly skirts, chubby fingers with marker residue all over them, and cargo pockets containing treasures of rubberbands and toy dinosaurs, or if it is because I am a human being; a human being currently unable to comprehend how this happened to such sweet and innocent creatures living in a civilized world.

I feel paralyzed by my grief and shock. I feel torn between never wanting to let my children go and having difficulty looking at them because it makes the loss of you that much more real and that much more profound. In times of uncertainty I often have this mental image of unlatching tiny double doors in my heart and tucking my boys deep inside, where they will be safe from reality. I cram them in there tightly, so they are safely insulated from the bumps and bruises of the world and so that they cannot leave me. I wish I could do it for real. My heart aches for the ability to do it for real.

But I see your brave parents (your dear, courageous, sweet parents whose pain I would bear in short shifts to alleviate this burden placed on them) sharing your memories with us, tales of your big hearts and carefree smiles, photos of your wide-eyed wonder for the world around you, and I know that you would not want us to be paralyzed with grief and fear. You would want the world to keep smiling, to keep playing, to keep making friends, to keep learning, to keep being a joyful playground.

I will honor your memories by not forgetting this and by not throwing my hands up and saying "Freak incident, nothing we can do," because I think we can do more in many areas and I will advocate for those changes. I will remember you in times of frustration and hopefully stop and count my blessings. I will feel true gratitude and appreciation for the teachers and administrators of my children. You will help me become the parent I want to be by lending me patience and perspective about our time here. I will try to be a better citizen and a helper, while also trying to be observant and honest about the true condition of people and what desperation or illness may drive them to. I will take more time to enjoy the little things and allow the fun, messy things more often.

And I will place each of you in that empty spot in my heart, behind those tiny pretend doors, safely tucked away, and I will not forget you. I will not let you become another news story in my life. I will carry you with me and you will be the reminder that I can do better, that we can do better, and that it's worth being better.

God bless your dear, sweet hearts.
Although we're the ones who need it.

With Respect, Sincerity and a Heavy Heart,

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sectional Feeling

Mr. Ashley has decided we can't have a television in the bedroom.

So I decided I need a couch that's like a bed. Like one of those big sectionals that has the upholstered ottoman that fits into the non-sectional space? So I can lie on it and watch television restfully.

So there's been a ton of couch talk, couch shopping, measuring, explanations of how we can't buy a couch right now, more couch shopping, explanations why a $3000 couch is not going to happen right now, more measuring, color indecision (gray or aqua, gray or aqua?) and finally a (possibly pretend) agreement that we're saving up for my new couch (aqua!). We're going to go visit the showroom this weekend. Mr. Ashley will be so excited when he finds out, I'm sure.

The other day I was pointing out, again,  that it was impossible to cuddle on our couches (disparaging the current couches is all part of the plan) and I sang out, "That's why we need a Seeeeeeeectional!"

"Oh my God, mom! Gross. I do not need to hear about it," Big Kid said in complete disgust.

I was confused for a moment...and then I laughed my ass off.

And assured him that I don't do that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Harmonica

Big Kid saw the harmonica post pulled up on my laptop and read it out loud before laughing hysterically.

little kid looked troubled. "You shouldn't say that. We shouldn't laugh about that!"

"Oh man, I know. It is kind of mean." I answered. (But I didn't really feel bad.)

"It's very mean! You're insulting my friends!" He seemed more pissed as the conversation progressed.

"Oh, really? You know him?" I asked, confused as to where this was going.

"Yes! I have many friends that celebrate Hanukkah!"

"Oh my, no!! HAR-MON-ICA! Not Hanukkah. Wow. I'm glad we clarified that. I love Hanukkah and whoever invented it. A lot. I'm proud of you for standing up for your friends but that's not what I said."

Can you even imagine if he told someone that I wished death upon whoever invented Hanukkah?

It's too scary to even laugh about.


Death by Harmonica

I hope whoever invented harmonicas died a slow and painful death.

I know that's mean.

But seriously.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

He's baaaaack (HHP: Day 1)

 This morning I heard little kid shout "HAROLD!" with an excited squeal as he walked through the living room. And so it begins. Again. 

Harold arrived late last night via hot air balloon. We thought he may have a note for us so we unrolled it but it was a strange, tiny map; very exotic looking. 

little kid took it to school and was a big freaking deal all day long. That's why I can't take a photo of it for you, it's certainly been squirreled away in one of his many treasure boxes by now.

Big Kid was too tired to exclaim much. He was busy counting down the hours until winter break. He also asked that Harold be relocated while he did his homework, as he did not want to be watched. I understand.

So, we've been reunited. For better or worse.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wanted: Harold Hubert Piggybottom

Well, the holidays are upon us.

(How?!? How on earth is this possible? We just did this, people! And I like the holidays, I just need more time in between. A year isn't enough these days.)

The kids have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of our elf, Harold Hubert Piggybottom. They were positive he would arrive December 1st and when he didn't, there was some concern. By December 2nd they were positively morose, despite me telling them that Harold was probably extremely busy...and possibly really worn out from last year still. Maybe Harold was coming later in the month. On December 3rd, Big Kid sadly said, "Maybe I'm just too old for an elf."


I said maybe we'd get a new elf, a sweet elf that just hangs out not doing much. 

They both made it clear that they wanted Harold and only Harold.

Sigh. Oh, Harold. Why did you have to be You should have been a normal, quiet elf, Harold. You should be an example to other elf foster parents everywhere, Harold.

I urged the boys to write a letter to Santa, maybe they would get some clarification on whatever was going on or perhaps Harold was MIA, sneaky little punk that he can be. Then we would mail it and it would take a while for it to get there and for a response to be returned to us.

The letter says:

Dear Santa Claus,
We are wondering if Harold is coming to our house. He didn't come the 1st, the 2nd or even today. We are getting worried, could you please send him soon, please? We understand if he's too busy working with Rudolph, Comet or Vixen or Dancer, Prancer or any of the other reindeer.


Unedited exclusive

(Big Kid was supposed to be born Canadian, I swear. "Uh, we really want our elf...but if you need him, that's cool, sorry, cheers!")

They were pretty irritated that the North Pole takes a long time to respond, but they finally got a reply. I would take a photo but my phone just doesn't want to, so whatever. There's letterhead and quality paper and everything, folks.

Season's greetings! Thank you for inquiring about Harold Hubert Piggybottom, we are quite relieved to hear you are looking forward to his arrival.

There was an incident with the reindeer that has forced us to reassign Harold to the mailroom and due to the high volume of incoming Christmas lists, mailroom elves are not sent out until the 10th of December. I apologize for not getting this information out to you sooner and for any concern it may have caused...we have had quite the hectic month up here.

We must request that you not keep Red Bull or other energy drinks in your home this season, if at all possible. Harold fed Red Bull to the reindeer one night with near disastrous consequences; the sleigh is simply not calibrated to handle that type of velocity. Can you imagine a team of 9 flying reindeer hopped up on caffeine? No, no you can't. Rudolph's nose was lit up for a solid week! It was awful, the stable master may never forgive him. Harold claims he was trying to improve productivity, but he was fascinated with the Felix Baumgarten space jump. Anyway, we strongly advise you to avoid it. And the warning from last year about power tools still stands. As you know, Harold loves Christmas and has a very good heart but sometimes makes questionable choices. Please be a good influence on him with your own excellent behavior.

Again, we greatly appreciate your continued participation in the Elf Live in Foster Service. Harold enjoys his time with your family and the Florida weather agrees with him. And we get a lot done around here in his absence!

Please keep an eye out for his arrival. Or should I say up?

Fa La La La La, La La La La,
Bristol Pinelin Treebright

So, it looks like Harold's coming back.

Which is wonderful, because who doesn't need even more magic during the holiday season? Hmm? Right? It will be awesome, I'm sure. Really. I can't wait to see his creepy little face again. Can. Not. Wait.


Merry Christmas.

(Here's the history of Harold Hubert Piggybottom, in case you're new.)