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Month: December 2008

Travels of Crazy People and Their Small Child

Travels of Crazy People and Their Small Child

We drove from New York to Ohio on Tuesday night. It took us two hours to get through Manhattan (who the heck decided it was a good idea to close Canal Street?!) and then when we were almost through Pennsylvania we hit a rain storm which promptly turned the roads to ice. Our 9 1/2 hour drive became almost 14 hours, many of which were spent going less than 40 mph on the freeway. We passed several cars and semis that had gone off the road, including two Toys’R’Us trailers and two UPS trailers, which probably means Christmas was canceled after all, at least in the tri-county area. But we made the journey safely and with our adrenalin levels only spiked a couple of times with near misses (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say “near hits”). Simon slept most of the time and we enjoyed passing the time talking and listening to Christmas music on the radio. It was fun, but please don’t make me listen to “Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer” again in the next 365 days.
We’re here now and although we haven’t slept much since we got in, we are enjoying all of the other kids (and adults), the food, the tree, etc. We went caroling this evening and the kids put on a Nativity production. Simon played the part of a sheep, a role which suited him well. He even gave his shepherd a hug before wandering away and losing himself in a basket of toys. Ah, the little lost lambs.

Other than that, there are two babies here already with another driving in tomorrow and there are several light switches at child-level. Simon gets no end of pleasure turning these lights on and off and on and off and on and off. And on and off. There are more bananas than he can handle and his brain gets stuck on banana mode whenever he sees them. I’m told he had three bananas for breakfast, although I was asleep at the time and cannot verify that statement. I’m sure Grandma’s house is the closest thing to his own personal heaven he is likely to achieve at this point in his life.

Christmas Culture

Christmas Culture

Here’s the deal with Santa: He doesn’t exist. At least not for our child/future children. We came to an agreement last year that we would not perpetuate that particular myth in our home and we still feel pretty good about that decision. We have come up with numerous ideas for traditions that we will implement in place of the Jolly Old Elf and we are hopeful that our children will still feel the magic of Christmas without the belief in a magical visitation from Santa Claus.

But here’s the other deal: We don’t have any idea what the consequences of that decision will be. Will the child(ren) feel that they are missing out on something because Santa visits all of their friends? Will they spoil it for the other children by telling them the “truth” about Santa? Will the traditions we have help them to feel the “magic” of Christmas even if they don’t get a magical visit on midnight Christmas Eve? These are somethings I am starting to think about as Simon has grown into a little boy. This year it doesn’t matter so much — all he thinks about right now are lights and babies — but next year it might.
Right now our plan is to focus on the giving and on Christ. We plan to do a lot of homemade gifts so that the kids are focused on making and doing things for others and have less time to think about what they are going to get. We plan to keep up with our CookieFest tradtion (which was kind of curtailed this year for various reasons and ended up producing less than 200 cookies — pathetic, I know) and on learning about other cultures during the Christmas season, which was a tradition in both of our families growing up. We are thinking about making a box or some sort of container in which the kids can put ideas about a “gift” they could give to Christ for his birthday or things that they noticed about others that were Christ-like. And when they are older we’ll probably have a family Christmas project — doing a Secret Santa or 12 Days of Christmas for a neighbor, something like that. And we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the magic really is in the giving of Christmas, because I wouldn’t want my kids to miss out on that.

It’s better than a kick in the teeth, I guess

It’s better than a kick in the teeth, I guess

For those of you who are interested in how we’re doing in this recessionary atmosphere, take a little listen to this NPR piece.

It’s about Micah’s company, which was expecting to take a big hit this season but is doing surprisingly well. As a journalist, I wish they had gone into more depth on the strategies they are using to keep the money flowing in: what have they changed since last year? What kind of deals are they doing to lure people in? As the wife of the company designer, I wish they had talked about how the emails my husband and the rest of the creative team have been sending out make 2-3 times as much money as the ones sent out at this time last year and how they are so visually striking and fun that customers are actually commenting that they like to open the emails and see what new thing they are coming up with. And as a human being I wish they didn’t end the story on such a downer. It’s depressing to think that things could be even worse a year from now. Or maybe all three of those are the wife in me wanting my husband to get the recognition he deserves. But I suppose I should be content that he is still employed.

*Note: The UncommonGoods website is expecting a nice facelift in 2009. It should look (and work) much, much better.

It's better than a kick in the teeth, I guess

It's better than a kick in the teeth, I guess

For those of you who are interested in how we’re doing in this recessionary atmosphere, take a little listen to this NPR piece.

It’s about Micah’s company, which was expecting to take a big hit this season but is doing surprisingly well. As a journalist, I wish they had gone into more depth on the strategies they are using to keep the money flowing in: what have they changed since last year? What kind of deals are they doing to lure people in? As the wife of the company designer, I wish they had talked about how the emails my husband and the rest of the creative team have been sending out make 2-3 times as much money as the ones sent out at this time last year and how they are so visually striking and fun that customers are actually commenting that they like to open the emails and see what new thing they are coming up with. And as a human being I wish they didn’t end the story on such a downer. It’s depressing to think that things could be even worse a year from now. Or maybe all three of those are the wife in me wanting my husband to get the recognition he deserves. But I suppose I should be content that he is still employed.

*Note: The UncommonGoods website is expecting a nice facelift in 2009. It should look (and work) much, much better.

We can’t say NYU never gave us anything.

We can’t say NYU never gave us anything.

I sold some of my textbooks back to the NYU bookstore today. I didn’t make a killing off the books or anything, but I did get a little something extra with my refund. The bookstore gives you a scratch-n-win card when you sell your books back, and the grand prize is a $250 gift certificate to the bookstore. Last time I got a “10% off select items” card, which wasn’t really useful so I didn’t use it. Go figure. But this time my card said “Winner! Prize A.” I looked on the back and it said to consult the prize list, so I was looking for the prize list when a friend of mine from my first semester (who happened to be working behind the register checking in the returned books) followed me and asked me what my card said. I showed him and he said “Prize A” was the grand prize. And suddenly Christmas in the Heiselt home was uncancelled. I picked up my gift card and called Micah. We have big plans to blow someone else’s money at the bookstore this weekend.

It would be fun to think that I was just lucky like that, but I have a sneaking suspicion the girl who gave me the card knew what it was. I don’t know how she would know, but it just seemed like she wanted to make sure I scratched it off before I left the store and she was cooing over Simon as I signed my receipt and telling the other cashier that she was a sucker for babies or something like that. And then my friend followed me to make sure I didn’t throw it away and that knew where to claim my prize. So my theory is that Simon worked his magic and got us a little extra Christmas cheer. He’s a nice good-luck charm to have around.

We can't say NYU never gave us anything.

We can't say NYU never gave us anything.

I sold some of my textbooks back to the NYU bookstore today. I didn’t make a killing off the books or anything, but I did get a little something extra with my refund. The bookstore gives you a scratch-n-win card when you sell your books back, and the grand prize is a $250 gift certificate to the bookstore. Last time I got a “10% off select items” card, which wasn’t really useful so I didn’t use it. Go figure. But this time my card said “Winner! Prize A.” I looked on the back and it said to consult the prize list, so I was looking for the prize list when a friend of mine from my first semester (who happened to be working behind the register checking in the returned books) followed me and asked me what my card said. I showed him and he said “Prize A” was the grand prize. And suddenly Christmas in the Heiselt home was uncancelled. I picked up my gift card and called Micah. We have big plans to blow someone else’s money at the bookstore this weekend.

It would be fun to think that I was just lucky like that, but I have a sneaking suspicion the girl who gave me the card knew what it was. I don’t know how she would know, but it just seemed like she wanted to make sure I scratched it off before I left the store and she was cooing over Simon as I signed my receipt and telling the other cashier that she was a sucker for babies or something like that. And then my friend followed me to make sure I didn’t throw it away and that knew where to claim my prize. So my theory is that Simon worked his magic and got us a little extra Christmas cheer. He’s a nice good-luck charm to have around.

Our Christmas Tree

Our Christmas Tree

Simon loves this year’s tree. Every time he wakes up or we walk in the door from being out, he requests that it be plugged in and we are happy to oblige because we rather like it too. The tree is one of the ways we realized that he knew the word “awesome.” It cost us nothing, we don’t need to dispose of it before we go out of town, we don’t have to remember to water it, but it brings in that special Christmas glow. We do miss the pine tree smell, so we may end up getting a pine scented candle or something. We don’t plan to make a habit of having a faux tree (or no tree), but this arrangement is working well for us this year.

The End is Here

The End is Here

I remember about a year ago, walking down 45th St. in Manhattan on my way to meet Micah when he got off work. I was thinking about what a wonderful accomplishment it would be to finish my degree and to be a relatively normal family again, rather than a crazy-frazzled-busy, trading-childcare-duties-on-the-train-platform kind of family. And now it has happened. I’m done. My classes are finished. I turned in my last assignment a few hours ago. There is nothing more to do. We didn’t even have to hand off Simon at Atlantic Avenue station last night, as has been our habit for the past several months.

School was hard and it was stressful but it went by quickly and, I believe, it was worth it. I learned so much, I gained so much confidence, and, most importantly, I realized more than ever that writing is what I want to do and what I can do. I know how I can be successful at it if I really want to be. And I do want to be. But it is not the only thing I want to be successful at. Even though I’m done with school, I’m still a mom and that part of my life will always be there. It will always be something that will help me balance out my other talents and goals — whatever they may be. I say that because one of the things I realized in school was that, outside of being a wife and mother, I don’t really have any goals after school. Journalism doesn’t have a set career path — you make your own way. But that it is hard to do if you don’t know where you are going, and I don’t know where I am going — what my goals are. I have vague ideas that, in some ways, are coming into focus a little bit. But the immediate future is still kind of fuzzy as far as my writing goes, which is why this liberating feeling of being done is also a little bit frightening.

What I do know is that I want to teach Simon to read and write. I want to play with him without worrying about the writing I’m not doing. I want go to the park and make cookies and be the stereotypical housewife/mother.

As I’m writing this we’re missing out on playing in the first snowfall of the season here, which I’ve been waiting weeks for. So right now we’re going outside to catch snowflakes before it is too late.