Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Foreboding of Winter

I'm cold. If you ask any of my friends, they'll tell you wryly that I'm cold any time the temperature drops below sixty-five degrees. But no matter how much everyone laughs at me, the fact is that the temps are now in the fifties during the day and the thirties at night. According to my body, it's winter.

For the last three days, I've had a chill I can't shake, so today I decided to wear long johns underneath my jeans when walking the dogs. It helped, and I'm both chagrined that it's about two months earlier than I usually have to do this, and relieved that I thought of it. This year, though, I have a bigger problem. It seems Ben has the same system that I do. This has made mornings downright painful.

Thankfully, my high-schooler is very self-sufficient. He gets up at six a.m. (bless his heart), makes his breakfast, packs his lunch and gets himself out to his bus before seven. That's about the time I drag myself out of bed, go wake Ben and proceed to put my coffee on and prep his food for the day. But even though Ben's bus doesn't come for almost another hour, I know I will have to go back and try to rouse him at least three more times.

Today, it was about thirty nine degrees outside. Ben looked like he was encased in a cocoon in his bed, blanket wrapped like a hood around his head. Part of me wanted to crawl in next to him. It's not a fatigue thing when bears like us don't want to get up in the morning. I actually send Ben to bed earlier than most kids his age, and I go to bed earlier in winter. This is to help keep me from being tired the next day because, let's face it, being cold *and* tired is a pretty good way to insure I will not want to get up unless the house is on fire. No, on these days, I've come to realize, it's about warmth. We don't want to get up because we are so very, comfortably, toastily, cozily warm. And I hate that he has to get up, because I completely understand how he feels.

I'm doing what I can to make it easier for both of us: I have the heat come up well before we have to rise so the rooms are warm. I have Ben lay out his clothes the night before so he can stumble into them drowsily and not have to get his brain going too (I'd be happy with just the body at that hour). And I have stocked the freezer with pancakes and waffles, and the cabinet with hot chocolate and oatmeal, so as soon as he makes it to the table, I can start warming his insides.

Time will tell if these tactics will work, and I'm trying to remain optimistic, but this morning was not a positive indicator. I asked Ben what he wanted for breakfast and lunch. He barked, "Waffles. Bologna. Now get out." Strangely, it didn't hurt as much as you might think.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Haunting

Boy Sundae
If you're here because this title sounded like a fun Halloweeny, crafting post, I'm going to level with you: Halloween is not involved, although there is some reference to crafting and definitely some haunting to be discussed.

Still here? OK, you've been warned. 

A few years ago when I was young and ambitious, I decided that, despite having no real crafting skill or history, I would try to make a Halloween costume for Ben. It turned out great, and inflated me with a sense that, with enough determination, Internet access and hot glue gun sticks, I could create anything. 

Today, my novel is stuck at 47,000 words. Why is my novel stuck? Because this is Ben's birthday month. Normally not a big deal. But when I asked him where he's like to have his party this year--the bowling alley, the driving range, the gym--he said "at home". I admit I had become one of those parents who throws money at a venue and bakes a cake, letting the birthday decorations, entertainment, food and cleanup be taken care of by someone else. Let's face it: it's easy, it's painless and the kids still have a great time.

But for the last two years, Ben has watched me go a bit over the top for his older brother's birthday parties (at home, where the teenagers could be supervised), planning James Bond- and ComicCon-themed parties, games, invitations, decorations, prizes and even food. And yes, it was lots of fun and the kids all loved it. But it was so much work that one per year was enough. In fact, this year I sent Jacob to the *real* ComicCon in NYC, swept the dust off my hands and called it a birthday. I figured I was off the hook for good. 

So when Ben decided he wanted a Minecraft-themed party at home for the first time in...ever, after what I had done for his brother, I couldn't very well say no. Thus, for the last week, and for the next several days, my schedule looks something like this:

print Minecraft Creeper faces onto t-shirt iron-on paper 
iron them onto green t-shirts
hot glue 12 glitter, shiny "item" boxes to hide for an item hunt
create a Minecraft-themed punch box where kids can punch through a hole in the box and get a prize
print Minecraft food labels
blow up "Enderman" balloons for a "Kill the Endermen" game
make a Ghast pinata
wrap up licorice "TNT"
burn CDs with Minecraft song parodies for goody bags
create Creeper faces to hang for a "shoot the Creeper" contest
bake meringue "bone" cookies
print Minecraft pig faces and attach to pink goody bags
bake square "dirt blocks" with green frosting "grass"

and the list goes on. 

In a way, this is all happening because I am now haunted by that first decision to make a Halloween costume, and the subsequent swell of pride that something worthwhile came out of it. But in truth, I know these parties mean a lot more to my kids than the ones at the bowling alleys and driving ranges. The boys will remember them forever because they feel extra special. Yes, they require a boatload of time, effort and planning. But my legacy as a mom will be one of making super birthday parties for my kids while they were young. I know because I'll be reminding them of it for the rest of their lives.