Yeah, corny, I know. Ho ho hope... whatever.
Ah Christmas. Mass at midnight with my father at the organ and my mom in the choir, chicken soup (for the soul, one of my father's traditions), presents that last until 4 a.m. and aren't finished, turkey dinner on Christmas Day, the rest of the presents finally, a Buche Christmas log for dessert. It's all good. Though a white Christmas wasn't in the cards, we're OK with that. It's Christmas in Virginia, Christmas with family. That's why we're here. And after the year our family has has with my dad's open heart surgery in March and arm repair surgery in May, it is even more a blessing to have us all together with his gift of music for Christmas.
But the day after Christmas is another story. It's Boxing Day (link), a day celebrated in many nations for a variety of reasons, most of which include a box but not the sport of boxing, just so you know. For us though, I think we'll do what all Americans like to do the day(s) after Christmas. Shop.
We're using our extended forthcoming time in India as an excuse, because after the nauseating haul of gifts we just received for Christmas, additional shopping for any reason is just plain wrong. But (yeah, there's the but)... there are things we still want. Not need, obviously, no one needs anything beyond warmth, nutrition and safety, but the wants are piling up. It's almost an addiction in the land of plenty. I freely admit that when we step on the hallowed ground of America, we become 100% red-blooded consumers.
Today isn't solely about shopping. I woke up early this morning thanks to a desperate need to pee at 4:45 a.m. followed by my husband's incessant snoring so I hopped on the laptop to get some items checked off my list. I've altered our hotel reservation in Madison so we're back in that hotel the night before we fly out to China (10 minutes from the airport) rather than spend that night at the Great Wolf Lodge (2 hours away). It makes sense what with the lousy weather they've been having. Ice, wind, misery. I also checked our hotel reservation for Beijing and sent a correct copy to myself. The weird reservation I have lists a single room and Ian was certain he'd reserved three. They are small, small rooms. It's China. Better to bug us thoroughly.
I do hope we stop by a Borders or Barnes and Noble today. I'm thinking we need a Mandarin Phrase book. It couldn't hurt. And a Merck Drug Guide to figure out what we're actually taking with our Chennai prescriptions. I also wanted some of the John Schaum music theory books. My dad brought us to Foxes Music last week, and it felt like being in book store. Well, a candy shop if you're a kid, a book shop if you're Ian or me. Rows of violins, guitars handing from the rafters, music books covering every bit of horizontal and vertical space. Oh to be independently wealthy. And talented. Some talent wouldn't hurt. We picked up some Theory books for the kids, the rest of the Schaum piano course books (link), a fingering chart for Katherine, and Ian got a guitar teacher for the computer.
I've declared 2008 a Study Year. I'm intent on learning to play new pieces on the piano, and becoming good enough to play with Katherine on her flute. How hard can that be? I've been "playing" since I was 10, she's been on the flute for 4 months. Um, she'll be playing circles around me if she stays with the flute. I definitely feel the talent skipped a generation.
I'm intent on learning some actual Polish. Ian and I have signed up for an on-line course together through FSI for intro Polish, starting Jan 22nd. And French is on my list too. I've told myself I need to get my French flowing. Our time in Brussels was wonderful for making some rusty basics a little less rusty. I couldn't remember the term for pancake (crepe) so that was pretty pathetic seeing as it was on the menu... but I digress. The French spoken in Brussels is a wonderful French, not the harsher, whiplash-inducing clipped French of Paris or the mangled French-Ewe-mush of Togo, and it was such that we could watch a dubbed movie and actually keep up. I could become proficient with a tour in Brussles. Honey, are you listening?
I'm going to continue with tennis and even if I don't become a good player, at least I'll be getting exercise.
I'm going to read more about Catholicism. Seeing as I have 2 kids heading into their 1st Communion this summer, it's as good a time as any. My dad gave Nicholas his own Mass Missal for Christmas and it was one of the best received gifts; he's been asking for one for a while. My parents also gave the kids a great story Bible, one I could actually see reading to them each night, something I keep meaning to do but reading straight from the Bible to a bunch of kids just doesn't work in our house. I did start reading the Catechism last year, but that is literally a Paragraph-at-a-Time sort of reading for me. Not fun.
I could say I'm going to become a better parent but I don't think that's something I can plan. My parents did get me what seems to be a good parenting book which I will read, but honestly, I'm short-tempered and it'll take a miracle to change that. I suppose that rather than trying to kill the temper I really should look for a way to let the temper out at better times, say, when I'm locked in a bathroom with the shower running to drown out the screams and cursing. I think we'd all be happier if I did that. Hopefully the book will have some useful tips for dealing with near-teens.
Actually, about the kids and behavior, the talking back has reached epic proportions the past week especially from the girls. Ian tossed around the idea of a penalty jar until I reminded him the kids have no money to put in one. But a chore jar might work. Get snotty and there's a bathroom with your name on it. It has potential. At least they'd pull their weight for the rest of our time at grandma's house
Hmm, this turned into more of a New Year's Resolution post didn't it? That wasn't my intent. No, my intent was to figure out the rest of our shopping. Christmas lights and ornament storage are at the top of my list. Ian would like a new tree, a prelit one, but I don't think they sell 220v trees at Target. Target will have to wait anyway, the girls received gift cards from a Christmas party they went to. Today is mostly Ian and I running errands. The Chinese Embassy to drop off passports for tourist visas will take all morning. Since we have to drive all the way in to DC I'm thinking we'll stop at Ballston Mall in Arlington on our way back for lunch. And then the DMV since our licenses expire this summer and getting them renewed can be a bit of a bear. I think I might be a little too ambitious for one day, we'll see.
Oh, and as far as we know, our house is still standing in Chennai and our cats aren't dead. So all is well.