Thursday, December 24, 2009

Handmade(ish) Christmas

Last year we managed to make some wrapping paper and a reindeer pop-up card (too taxing to repeat), oh, and of course the CD of Max's favourites. This year...well that might give too much away. Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action!

I suppose I thought we might hear a few words of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer at the 'holiday performance' at Max's school yesterday...but what with the excitement of being on stage under all those lights, and keeping the antlers in place, and spotting faces in the crowd, well it seems the actual song wasn't so important...

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Proper Fug

It is fug season.  Even in California.  The rain has kept us inside, doors closed, and the cold has reintroduced me to chilblains.  And so the weekend fug forms.  In our house the word 'fug' has broken out of it's dictionary definition.  It still hints of Collins' Concise 'hot stale air' but has also attracted other nuances unique to our family.  For us, a fug generally includes a light floor covering of newspapers; strewn supplements, discarded driving sections and the news pages folded in upon themselves like a fortune telling cahootie. Likewise, cushions and pillows must obey the laws of gravity and find themselves suitably muddled into the mess.  To create a real fug, there must be jumble of toys and bedding liberally applied to the sitting room floor.  One thing that works very well and is the current favourite in our house, is a rocket ship made with duvets dragged from bedrooms, blankets pulled from boxes and the contents of the saucepan cupboard.  A fug can be enhanced when an elaborately engineered train set, built with such care, is then bulldozed and lies abandoned in the chaos.  A Christmas tree dropping needles will help in establishing a proper fug and a warm fire, if you have one, will do wonders.  At that point Dom will be reveling in it, he will sigh contentedly saying 'Ahh, now this is a proper fug, all we need is a dog.'
Some of you will have spotted that a fug isn't that different from a tip. A stuffy tip (thankfully without the dog). In the absence of an open fire, we have a thermostat. And, here is the biggest contention; let's call this, the battle of the fug. 
Our thermostat is on the wall near the kitchen, we walk past it to do just about everything. Dom sets it to 72, I turn it down to 60. Dom raises my 60 to 76, I see his 76 and turn it back to 62. Dom then ratchets it up to 80 and I switch it off. And so it goes on. Saturday. Sunday.
I am by no means obsessively tidy.  But, I generally keep cushions on chairs and bedding in bedrooms.  When I'm down on the floor, playing inside with the boys, I find I group the toys, putting the cars together, or the farm animals in the farmyard. I can't help but search out the missing shape for the sorter, or find a way to make the geometric bricks fit neatly in their cart.  I confess to picking apart playdoh to try and separate the colours.  I dream of having an organised craft cupboard.  And so I fight the fug here too.
By Monday I have majority control over the house again and most importantly, the thermostat. But it's hard not to like a fug, it denotes the weekend, and the season, and I can take solace in the fact that we don't yet have a dog.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A thumb-sucker

I love the fact that my youngest son sucks his thumb.  I love it for practical reasons; that he can soothe himself easily and that the simple act of finding this amazing digit can take the noise level in the house from storm force to silent in just a few seconds. I love the index hooked over the nose and the fact that he can find it in his sleep and sometimes, when I'm dressing him, he will agree to remove it from his mouth, only so long as it takes to put an arm in a sleeve.  I love it because he looks so sweet; his big pupils widen a little as he brings his hand to his mouth and then he settles in to a silent pulse.  He often brings up his other hand in prayer-like support, interlacing his fingers and holding on fast to the little finger of his sucking hand. I've noticed too that when I pick him up, he often pops his thumb in his mouth as if to reconfirm the safety of my arms.  He's putting the keys in the door.  He's home.  I love trying to make him smile until his suction goes. I love the thumb's over-sucked wrinkliness when it is not in his mouth and the strange fact that I never need to cut the nail. I love it because it so clearly tells me his mood.
I think Max hates it for as many reasons.  I've spied him giving it a go, trying to see what Oli takes from it. He puts his dry thumb in his mouth and, with a look of mild confusion, takes it out again, as if someone has asked him to chew clay.  There is no pleasure, no comfort.
'I don't want Oli to suck his thumb!' Max will declare when we are driving somewhere. He wants an accomplice on the back seat. But the two boys have different ways of dealing with the restrictions of car seats. Max wants music to take him somewhere interesting, Oli wants his thumb to take him off to sleep.
I love the story I was told of a friend who, as a child, had so many toys on her bed that every night, she tucked them in under her duvet, then, in the absence of a place to put her own head, would curl up to sleep on the floor.   Max's bed is not dissimilar; a muddle of dogs and cows and lions and bears and some woolly birds.  His dirty blond teddy with the fading blue ribbon round his neck is Oli's thumb in the mouth. For Oli, soft toys are batted away as an irritation.  All those carefully selected rabbits and elephants, given before we realised what kind of boy we had amongst us, are piled up, untouched, in a withy basket in his room.
I wonder what these differences portend. If anything. Are the thumb suckers of this world more self sufficient? Do teddy lovers crave more support from others? And were does it leave the rest of us who remember neither, except perhaps, an old raggy?